John Arthur Jack Johnson was an American boxer who made a name for himself when he became the first African American to win the World heavyweight boxing champion. He was famous to be the most notorious and African-American boxer in the world at the time and was dubbed a nickname “Galveston Giant.” History might just have him be the most inspirational athlete in the Boxing world, as the famous Muhammad Ali has, on a few occasions, talked about how he was influenced by Jack Johnson.
Being a boxing legend, Johnson naturally was able to hold the World champion title from 1908-1915 and was named the Galveston Giant seeing as he hailed from Galveston, Texas.
In 1913, the boxing legend was formerly convicted for traveling with one of his then-girlfriends, Belle Schreiber, at the time. As a result, the Texas-born boxer left the country due to this and went overseas to have his fight matches instead before eventually losing his title to American boxer Jess Willard back in 1915 in Havana. Five years later, Johnson returned to the United States and was handed a 10-month sentence in Leavenworth. In 1946, he was reported to have been killed in a car crash on U.S Highway 1 near Franklintown, North Carolina after racing from a particular diner that failed to serve him at the age of 68.
Those are the most obvious fact there is about him. Today, we will be talking about facts you probably don’t know or haven’t heard before.
The Cotton Club
Right after getting out of prison, the Texas-born boxer joined hands with a friend called Budd Levy to open up a nightclub with the name Cafe de Luxe in Harlem back in 1923. The new club was said to be a big hit in Harlem then that invited gangster Owney Madden, who immediately forced Johnson and Levy out of the club for a takeover after muscling his way in. Madden then renamed the nightclub to The Cotton Club.
We all know for a fact that Johnson loved driving fast, we even know that car accident was due to him driving fast, but did you ever think of him challenging a racing legend, No right? The Galveston Giant challenged then-famous racing legend Barney Oldfield to a contest of automobiles. The racer had formerly set a world speeding record of 131.724 mph back in 1910. With the race taking place in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, it went just as we expected as Oldfield left the Boxer in the dust.
Losing the Title
After leaving the country due to him being charged, he left for Paris, France where he defended his championship title three times before leaving for Cuba to fight against Willard. According to Britannica, some spectators who watched the match thought that Johnson somehow understood that losing the Championship title to a white man will see the charges against him dropped, hence his loss to Willard back in 1915. In his 114 matches, Johnson won 80 of those, with 45 being knockouts.