Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

By Boxing News on July 4, 2013
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson was a ring genius with a flair for the theatrical, both in and out of the ring.

“Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson” is Ken Burns’ award winning documentary on the first African American to hold the heavyweight title. To call Jack Johnson a historical figure who was before his time is the understatement to beat all understatements. Not only was he a ring genius with a flair for the theatrical. He also liked fast cars, fine wine and, worst of all, white women. Johnson lived in unenlightened times. Racism was rife and virulent, even more so than today. His upending of the status quo was more than society at the time could bear and he paid a heavy price. But there was only one Jack Johnson. There will never be another…

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"The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson-Unforgivable Blackness" (Part 1 of 2)



"The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson-Unforgivable Blackness" (Part 2 of 2)



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  1. Eric 10:04am, 11/22/2012

    Jack Johnson was IMHO one of the most overrated of all heavyweight champions. There are those including Nat Fleischer and other boxing historians who consider Johnson the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. Johnson built up his reputation largely on defeating a 5’7 1/2” 180lb Tommy Burns for the title, and defending it against a totally washed up version of the great Jim Jeffries, and dispatching a great middleweight Stanley Ketchel who stood a mere 5’9” and weighted about 165lbs give or take a pound for the Johnson fight. Even though it is largely rumored the Ketchel-Johnson fight was “rehearsed” and Ketchel suddenly abandoned the plans and went for broke flooring a totally off guard Johnson, it doesn’t bode well for an all-time top 5 heavyweight to be floored by a 160-165lb fighter even if that fighter is Stanley Ketchel. Johnson, subsequentially came up off the floor and just flattened the much smaller man, but still one was left to wonder how even an ususpecting all time heavyweight champion could be dumped on his arse by a middleweight. Of course with Jeffries,  Johnson beat a man who had been in retirement for 5 years and had gotten his weight up to over 300lbs and had to drop nearly 100lbs of flab to get into something resembling fighting shape of his glory days. The sudden dramatic loss of so much weight and Jeffries inactivity and age left Jeffries a mere shell of his formiddable prime, but still it took Johnson nearly 15 rounds to get an aged, weakened, and rusty Jeffries out of there. It took Johnson 14 rounds to dispose of a blown up middleweight Tommy Burns for the title. In between Jeffries and Jess Willard, Johnson would defend his title infrequently and against limited opposition even refusing to fight a former opponent the great Sam Langford who stood 5’6 1/2” and weighed about 165-180lbs when fighting the bigger boys. It was said Langford had given Johnson hell in their past meetings and Johnson ironically drew the color line on the black Langford. The giant Jess Willard who might have been more inept than even Primo Carnera would defeat an aged, overweight, inactive Johnson for the title, just as Johnson had feasted on a aged Jeffries years earlier. While Johnson routinely makes top 5 lists of all time heavyweight champions it would be a stretch for me to include him in my top 10.

  2. Ste 06:23am, 08/24/2012

    Jack Johnson was the ATG.

  3. Adam 09:53pm, 08/08/2012

    Does anybody know where I can buy or download these doco’s.. Thanks..

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