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Jack JohnsonOriginal Vintage Boxing Photo, circa 1910.
This is a rare, unusal photo on heavy card stock (cabinet style photo) of Jack Johnson. A nice image of Johnson with a sign in the background "Drink Jack Johnson Whiskey". On the back someone has written in pencil "Jack Johnson Champion". A really amazing and rare photo (maybe one of a kind as we have never seen this photo before or since).
Size: Card is 5.5" L x 5.25" H
Bio:John Arthur Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), better known as Jack Johnson and nicknamed the “Galveston Giant”, was an American boxer and arguably the best heavyweight of his generation. He was the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World (1908-1915), a feat which, for its time, was tremendously controversial. In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns said: “For more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous, and the most notorious African-American on Earth.
In 1910, former heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement and said, "I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro." Jeffries had not fought in six years and had to lose around 100 pounds to try to get back to his championship fighting weight.
At the fight, which took place on July 4, 1910 in front of 22,000 people, at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno, Nevada, the ringside band played, "All coons look alike to me". The fight had become a hotbed of racial tension, and the promoters incited the all-white crowd to chant "kill the nigger". Johnson, however, proved stronger and more nimble than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after he had been knocked down twice for the first time in his career, Jeffries' people called it quits to prevent Johnson from knocking him out.
The "Fight of the Century" earned Johnson $225,000 and silenced the critics, who had belittled Johnson's previous victory over Tommy Burns as "empty", claiming that Burns was a false champion since Jeffries had retired undefeated.
Johnson was an early example of the celebrity athlete, appearing regularly in the press and later on radio and in motion pictures. He earned considerable sums endorsing various products, including patent medicines, and indulged several expensive hobbies such as automobile racing and tailored clothing, as well as purchasing jewelry and furs for his wives. Once, when he was pulled over for a $50 speeding ticket (a large sum at the time), he gave the officer a $100 bill, telling him to keep the change as he was going to make his return trip at the same speed. Johnson was also interested in opera (his favorite being Il Trovatore) and in history — he was an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, believing him to have risen from a similar origin as himself.
Johnson continued fighting, but age was catching up with him. After two losses in 1928 he participated only in exhibition bouts.
Johnson died in a car crash near Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1946, aged 68, just one year before Jackie Robinson broke the "color line" in Major League Baseball. He was buried next to Etta Duryea at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. His grave is unmarked, but a stone that bears only the name "Johnson" stands above the plots of him and two of his wives.