Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Title

Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Title

Jack Johnson becomes the first African-American to win the world heavyweight title when he knocks out Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. Johnson received little support in the United States, where many called for a “Great White Hope” to put the heavyweight title back in a white man’s hands. Johnson defeated several U.S. challengers and successfully defended his international title. His marriage to a white woman further incensed American racists, and in 1912 he was convicted of an antiquated U.S. law that forbid a man from transporting an unmarried woman across state lines. Johnson fled to Europe and remained a champion in exile until he lost in 1915 to white American Jess Willard in Cuba. Upon returning to the United States in 1920, he was imprisoned for a year. After his release, he boxed occasionally and became a vaudeville and carnival performer. He died in 1946.