Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey C Ward

PUBLISHED: 10:26 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

ON December 26, 1908, Jack Johnson beat Tommy Burns in Sydney Australia, to become the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. For years Johnson had pursued his dream, but previous title holder James J Jeffries had refused to face him on th

ON December 26, 1908, Jack Johnson beat Tommy Burns in Sydney Australia, to become the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

For years Johnson had pursued his dream, but previous title holder James J Jeffries had refused to face him on the grounds that blacks were not deemed worthy to compete for the coveted title.

Johnson was an extrovert inside and outside the ring and in early 20th century America he was seen as a danger by the white establishment as well as some African-Americans as he flaunted his wealth and publicly dated white women, marrying three.

This is a revealing insight, not only into the man, but also into the social history of the time. 4/5


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