Jack Johnson

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson

Full Name: John Arthur Johnson
Profession: World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

United States of America

Biography: As the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion Johnson is considered one of the most influential boxers of all time.

He won the title from Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia on Boxing Day, 1908 after which he was the victim of huge racist press coverage and had to face a series of fighters each billed by boxing promoters as a "great white hope".

After an 8-year reign Johnson lost the title on April 5, 1915 when KO'ed in the 26th round of a scheduled 45-round bout in Havana, Cuba by Kansas-based working cowboy Jess Willard.

With money from boxing, endorsements and business ventures, Johnson led a very high lifestyle and flouted conventions regarding the social and economic "place" of blacks in American society such as marrying 3 white wives.

He still boxed professionally until 1938 at age 60 when he lost 7 of his last 9 bouts.

Born: March 31, 1878
Birthplace: Galveston, Texas, USA
Star Sign: Aries

Died: June 10, 1946 (aged 68)
Cause of Death: Car accident

Historical Events

  • 1908-12-26 African-American boxer Jack Johnson stops Canadian defending champion Tommy Burns in the 14th round in Sydney, Australia, to become the first black man to win world heavyweight title; Burns is favourite in 12th title defence but Johnson dominates before police stop the bout
  • 1909-05-19 In his first title defence Jack Johnson fights 'Philadelphia' Jack O'Brien to a no decision in 6 rounds in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to retain his world heavyweight crown
  • 1909-06-30 Jack Johnson fights Tony Ross to a no decision in 6 rounds at Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to retain his heavyweight boxing title
  • 1909-09-09 Jack Johnson retains his heavyweight boxing title when he fights Al Kaufman to a no decision in 10 rounds at Coffroth's Arena, San Francisco, California
  • 1909-10-16 In his 4th title defence Jack Johnson KOs Stanley Ketchel in the 12th round at Mission St Arena, Colma, California to retain his heavyweight boxing crown
  • 1910-07-04 "Fight of the Century": Jack Johnson beats James J. Jeffries by TKO in 15 in Reno, Nevada to retain his world heavyweight boxing title
  • 1912-07-04 Jack Johnson beats "Fireman" Jim Flynn by disqualification in 9 in Las Vegas to retain world heavyweight boxing title
  • 1912-10-18 Black boxer Jack Johnson arrested for violating the Mann Act for "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" due to his relationship with white woman Lucille Cameron, allegedly a prostitute. Later convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to a year in prison.
  • 1913-12-09 Heavyweight Jack Johnson-Jim Johnson fight to no decision in Paris
  • 1913-12-19 Jack Johnson fights fellow African-American Jim Johnson to a draw in 10 rounds for the vacant world heavyweight boxing title in Paris, 1st time two black fighters compete for the title
  • 1914-06-27 Defending champion Jack Johnson beats fellow American Frank Moran on points in 20 rounds in Paris, France to retain his lineal heavyweight boxing title
  • 1915-04-05 Jess Willard KOs Jack Johnson after 26 rounds to win the heavyweight boxing title in front of 25,000 fans at Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba
  • 2018-05-24 US President Donald Trump posthumously pardons boxer Jack Johnson for racially orientated criminal conviction - transporting a white woman across state lines

Biographies and Sources

Famous Boxers