US boxer who became the first black to hold the world heavyweight title (1908–15).
Born in Galveston, Texas, the son of a bareknuckle fighter, Jack Johnson ran away from home to work in racing stables before deciding to become a professional boxer. In 1908 he took the world title by beating the Canadian Tommy Burns. He lost it in 1915 in Havana, Cuba, to Jess Willard, when he was knocked out in the twenty-sixth round. Apart from Muhammad Ali Johnson was arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time. Outside the ring he lacked popularity, largely because of his flamboyant and arrogant lifestyle. After one comeback, he retired officially in 1928. He died in a car crash in 1946.
Subjects: United States History.