Jack Johnson
photo from Library of Congress
John Arthur "Jack" Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946) was the first Black world heavyweight boxing champion (from 1908-1915). He fought two fights in Oakland in 1901 and 1902. His nickname was the Galveston Giant. He trained in Oakland at Link Dennis' on 7th Street.

His fight in 1910 against formerly retired champion James Jeffries was called "The Fight of a Century". The white media, eager for a "Great White Hope", found a champion for their racial pride in James Jeffries. Jack London is quoted as saying, "Jim Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the golden smile from Jack Johnson's face." 2 It was originally going to be fought at the Oakland Trotting Park in Emeryville, but there was local resistance so the fight was moved to Reno. 5

Bits and Pieces

In 1907 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Johnson would be marrying a white woman, an Australian named Lola Toy,4 but they never married.

According to a newspaper article from 1911, Johnson owed a debt of $25.25 to Oakland clothing merchant James T. Moran, and references Johnson having trained at the Reliance Club. 3

Links and References

  1. Jack Johnson on Wikipedia
  2. James Jeffries on Wikipedia
  3. Lil' Artha Must Pay $25 For Old Overcoat San Francisco Call March 17, 1911
  4. Johnson To Wed A White Girl: States That Miss Lola Toy of Sydney Is to Be His Bride San Francisco Chronicle May 10, 1907
  5. Time Capsule: Ringside seats for sports history Oakland Tribune September 15, 1991