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Born John Arthur Johnson in 1878, and eventually nicknamed the Galveston Giant, Jack Johnson was one of the most influential boxers in history. He came from a large family and began boxing in 1898, quickly achieving national, and then international fame, by being the first black man to be crowned World Heavyweight Champion in 1908 - during a controversial era of US history dominated by Jim Crow laws which enabled and enforced segregation - after winning a fight in Australia against Tommy Burns, a white boxer from Canada. Burns was one of the very few white championship fighters at the time who was willing to cross the racial barrier in boxing and take on black opponents. But Johnson's victory over him stunned the world, and especially America. In 1910, Johnson went on to fight a retired champion dubbed The Great White Hope, James Jeffries, in what was called “The Fight of The Century” - scheduled for 45 three minute rounds - and in the aftermath, which Johnson won, race riots broke out across 25 states. Johnson continued boxing, operating various businesses, dating and marrying white women and running from the law, ending up overseas, and died in a car crash on June 10, 1946, at the age of 68.

Black Boxer who Lived Without Fear - a documentary -

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