Don’t blame me for what an ancestor did , that was then , this is now
Over the past ten years a concerted effort has been made to right an evil wrong perpetrated within this country , that most would rather forget and simply choose to ignore , or better yet, claim , that as it was a thing of the past , then it should be forgotten . Well , racism is not a thing of the past nor has it been forgotten . Today , we have the proliferation of sex trafficking and slavery across the globe , and the United States has become one of the largest market places for the industry . Many of those who are being trafficked are young girls , as well as young boys , as the purveyors of this trade cater to the needs of their perverted customers . Never let it be said , that money doesn’t get you what you want and when you want it . And yes , the oldest profession known to man remains the livelihood of many , with law enforcement simply at a loss as how to eradicate its presence .
Many of you may well be aware of such boxing luminaries from the past , Archie Moore , and Floyd Patterson , who reigned over the heavyweight scene , when the sport was rich in talent and the title fights actually meant something . Long before, the prominence of Muhammad Ali , George Foreman , Sonny Liston , Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson came into being . The two most celebrated fighters within the division , of any era and weight category , were boxers who paved the way for the sport of boxing to be respected and where boxing historians still reveled in their notoriety , fame and skill-set . Less of the stupidity , as to the “ greatness” of Rocky Marciano , who on his best day would have been hard pressed to defeat either Jack Johnson or Joe Louis Barrow . The latter , whose given name was Barrow , took the name Joe Louis , and then rose to become the greatest heavyweight in boxing history , until the ascent of a young man from Louisville , Kentucky , by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay. Clay , as you know , would later become known as Muhammad Ali , having converted to Islam , and the Sufi sect, of one of the world’s great religions.
Jack Johnson became boxing’s first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion , when the sport , not so much in its infancy , was still finding a way to legitimize itself and become recognized as a sport that appealed to the masses . Routinely , triumphed as a discipline of gentlemen , the sport was essentially dominated by Caucasian males who refused to fight their African-American contemporaries at the time (turn of the century) , for fear of being beaten or shown to lack the physical ability in proving to be the better athlete or boxer. Much as it was within the game of baseball, and the continued belief that Babe Ruth was, and still remains the greatest player to have ever played the game baseball . The inductee within Baseball’s Hall of Fame , refused to play against teams from the Negro Leagues and was a staunch supporter of the sport remaining segregated . Granted , there were laws on the books that prevented teams from within what was then MLB from facing any affiliate from the Negro Leagues . However , it was known that these edicts were circumvented , when money was said to have changed hands, in order to facilitate such games , which were never actually recognized in or for the record books . Historians and the revisionists of baseball, would later seek to change that all , primarily to suggest that the game at the time was being played on a level playing field . What a crock of fecal matter !
Joe Louis remains amongst the top five heavyweight champions in boxing history , his record of twenty-five consecutive title defenses and the longevity of his boxing reign and career , places him amongst the pantheons of the sport . Yet it was his demeanor away from the ring that enamored the fans of boxing , while at times , we knew there to be detractors, because of Louis’ ethnicity . As World War II (WWII) was about to reach , and spread its tentacles widespread , and the rise of Nazism becoming a plague across Europe . Joe Louis would be used as a battle cry for the war effort , when he fought then former foe and nemesis , German boxer , Max Schmeling , in an epic rematch , that has been described as one of the greatest fights in the annals of boxing history. It should be remembered that Louis , lost to Schmeling , when the two met in a non-title fight at Yankee Stadium , in New York City , New York on June 19th , 1936. A then unbeaten Louis (24-0-0) was the prohibitive favorite for the bout ,which would end with a knockout in the twelfth round victory for Schmeling. The shock of that loss and the fact that the news was reported back to then German Chancellor , Adolph Hitler , was met with a great deal of adulation and exaltation by the leader and German people , as they sought to prove themselves the “Master race “ and that indeed , the rise of an Aryan Nation to profligate the world, and to try and prove that nation’s dominance . Alas , it would prove not to be , for Hitler , or for the German people .
In the long-awaited rematch , Joe Louis would exact his revenge, with a sweeping and stunning victory , which saw Max Schmeling KO’d in the very first round , when the two fighters met for the second and final time of their illustrious careers. A long-lasting friendship would be built between the two up until 1981 , and the passing of Joe Louis , whose funeral would be attended by Schmeling , who had now become a successful businessman and industrialist .
Louis was hoisted and used as a tool to try to sustain the myth that Rocky Marciano should and would become a great champion . Marciano’s career (49-0, 43 KO’s) was unblemished upon his retirement, and the fact that he fought and defeated , a past his prime Joe Louis , only showed the slippery slope that the sport of boxing would take over the ensuing years . One of the more embarrassing aspects of the post Joe Louis’ career , was the fact that as a ” war hero ” and military veteran , he would then be pursued by the federal government for the non-payment of taxes by the IRS, the agency responsible for such endeavors . It would take the assistance of Louis’ former nemesis, Max Schmeling to come to his aid , with then known gangster , Frank Lucas , disgusted with the treatment of the boxer by the US government , paying off a $50,000 a tax lien levied against Joe Louis by the agency . It would not be the last of Louis’ financial woes , much of which were caused by caused by the mismanagement of his finances by his then manager , Mike Jacobs .In the wake of it all , we can see what happened then to Joe Louis, has been mirrored repeatedly down the years within the sport of boxing , countless times , with promoters and managers defrauding their clients , and simply leaving them destitute .
Jack Johnson’s career was marred by the inherent racism that was abound within the sport and the very fact that the early part of his boxing career was simply prefaced with bouts against “colored fighters” , speaks largely to the fact that the country was still divided primarily along racial lines , before one could actually mention socioeconomic lines . It would also fair to say , that even though the sport had yet to attain an international presence by way of an internationally recognized body to run boxing . Fledgling groups grew out of the need , for there to be some sort of structural setup. However , the main groups were all Caucasian controlled , with the input coming from wealthy financial backers , who simply saw fit for the none inclusion of Black or even Hispanic fighters at the time . Out of this grew the nondescript organizations with claimant of being a legitimate body to govern the sport for colored fighters. Quickly shot down , it was the growing reputation of Johnson as a pugilist , that would catch the attention of the now more famed white fighters, who sought to debunk the myth that their black counterparts were superior and who were merely ancestors of slaves simply looking for another avenue to vent their anger and to seek reparations . Those claims and particular that of Johnson, that would also hold sway with the promoters and manager of James L Jeffries , who at the time was the world heavyweight champion .
During the ensuing years of his reign , Jack Johnson would be the subject of numerous racial attacks, in which, on several occasions he narrowly escaped death . And if to further exacerbate this all, Johnson also became the subject of ongoing police investigations , as law enforcement in the South as well as in his home state of Texas, sought to make an example of him , rather than see him prevail with his new-found fame , wealth , and notoriety. I was recently rebuffed by two patrons who tried to suggest that the racial divide within the country as such no longer exists . Unless I’m mistaken , the “so-called advances” that have been made , are now being trampled upon , not only by the electorate themselves , but also by the highest court in the land , the US Supreme Court. If anything , the apathy of the electorate and the ongoing existence of racism hasn’t declined but can and will remain within our midst , only because so many , no longer wish to question this type of behavior .
Away from the ring , Jack Johnson’s life was lavish , as with his new-found notoriety and acclaim , came the trappings of wealth , success and the very fact that abroad , specifically in Europe, he would find the sort of respect and reverence he would be unable to find in America . The very fact that the Parisians of Paris, France , held the boxer in such high esteem , simply showed, that he could gain respect elsewhere , that was not afforded or granted to him in the land of his birth. Can anyone not see the similarities in Johnson’s life and that of Muhammad Ali’s , at the time of his wrongful incarceration for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War ? Ali became a man without a home , having been imprisoned , vilified in the press as a coward , and then to have his family subjected to heinous racial epithets, as well as physical harm . Par for the course in a country that tries to hold itself up as a moral beacon of light , when it subjects many of its citizens to such heinous acts , never-mind the continued mistreatment of the native American Indians .
Four decades on , ask yourself , how far has this country really advanced , and how it treats the minorities within its borders ? Do you really, have an answer that you believe to just and even based on principles that you would hold true?
Johnson’s undoing, it was believed would be the fact, that his private life became more public , when he remained in America . Lavish cars , the parading of his wealth and his accompanying of females , especially those from outside of his ethnicity ran afoul of the laws of the land. A black man, cavorting with a white woman, and parading her off as a chattel ? Yet, a white male raping a black woman , and you would be hard pressed to find law enforcement agencies seeking to arrest the perpetrators of such a crime , let alone have him being placed on trial . Less, we forget also, interracial relationships were frowned upon , and marriages within those racial demographics , were unlawful, during the early part of the twentieth century . Jack Johnson epitomized the lifestyle of so many of today’s high-profiled athletes , a disdain for the law , specifically those that he felt were unjust , and the very fact that in spite of his wealth and his wish to enhance the life of those amongst his own race , he was treated with disdain by his white counterparts within his chosen profession, as well as by the bodies who sought to represent the sport across the country.
Lucille Cameron, a white female , whom Johnson would be in a long-term relationship for several years was questioned by the police , who sought to coerce her into making a false claim that she had been abducted , and taken across state lines . Under the outmoded and archaic “Mann Act “ (1910) , it was unlawful to take a white female across state lines for a pernicious act . The law itself was drawn up specifically to stop acts of immorality , and prostitution , but more often than not , it was used to target black males with a desire to enter into a sexual relationship with a white female . In the rural south of America , and in the Midwest , it was not uncommon to hear of a black male being railroaded into pleading guilty, for such a crime , even when there was said to be no evidence of a crime being committed . And for Jack Johnson , his fate was a year imprisonment on a trumped charge , for which it was never proven that he took Cameron across state lines , only that the two traveled together as companions , while at the time both he and Lucille Cameron were in a relationship , albeit that it was frowned upon because of their ethnicity . As I alluded to earlier , white male raping a female could go unpunished , but god forbid a black man at the time , got involved with a consensual relationship with a white female .
Over the past two decades, several congressional leaders have sought or proposed a legislative measure to have this crime expunged from Jack Johnson’s record . However , as of late , it has been the past decade , Senators John McCain (R-Az) and Harry Reid (D-Nv) have sought to obtain a Presidential pardon for Jack Johnson , which has been reviewed by successive administrations from Bill Clinton on down to the present White House incumbent , Barack Obama to have a pardon be granted . Having been reviewed by the US Justice Department under then President Clinton , a pardon was never granted. And as the descendants of Johnson’s family, awaits for some kind of progress in the petition for his pardon , it does seem odd that in this day and age, it is left to an ambiguous and some might determine an inept bureaucratic agency to make a recommendation to a President , who seems more intent on trying to create the perception that he seeks to represent the electorate and is said to understand the rule of law . Yet when questioned on the initiative concerning Johnson , he appeared to be nonplussed and out of sorts as to whom this individual was said to be .
Courtesy of USA Today
Members of Congress introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon ex-champ Jack Johnson
By Jon Saraceno USA Today
The fight for the legacy of Jack Johnson continues unabated.
Two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon the first African-American heavyweight champion, wrongfully convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913.
Since 2004, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have sought a posthumous pardon of Johnson, whose racially motivated prosecution and conviction imprisoned him for a year.
The Mann Act prohibited transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes; Johnson dated a Caucasian woman.
Johnson’s reputation and Hall of Fame career were ruined.
Johnson, the son of a former slave, was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas. His boxing skills were honed in “battle royals,” events in front of white audiences in which several black men fought until a last man was standing to collect the coins tossed his way.
He turned professional in 1897 and went on to win the heavyweight title in 1908 by defeating Tommy Burns in Australia.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.) joined McCain and King in co-authoring the resolution.
With bipartisan support, McCain hopes President Obama will take action. In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously have passed the resolution but no executive action was taken.
Click on link to read in full .
In spite of his relationships , and marriages , Johnson’s yearning for respect from his white counterparts would lead to a bout , that saw the beginnings of the decline in his career . His fight with Jess Willard at the Oriental Park , in Havana , Cuba , with the World Heavyweight title at stake , would take on epic proportions. As the fight was staged and fought in humidifying heat , in an outside arena , with the temperature , in excess of 105 degrees. Johnson as the champion could have refused to have taken the fight , but such was his pride and ego , that he simply made light of the threats , from the promoters , his opponent and his detractors who were in attendance , seeking the black champion dethroned . The bout would go on for an astonishing twenty-six rounds , with Willard , winning by a knockout . Yet that was not in part all of the story , as during the fight , Johnson punished his much bigger opponent relentlessly , knocking him down , only to have the referee Jack Welch , disregard what was a clear knockdown , by claiming that Willard slipped during the fight in the third round . A further knockdown took place in the seventh round, that saw a prolonged count , beyond the mandated ten seconds’ count , that allowed the challenger , Jess Willard , to regain his composure and to continue . Johnson would then realize, that this fight could and would not be won by the champion , and that it would not be won fairly , according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules .
Attrition would get the better of the champion in spite of his gallant effort and the very fact that he out-boxed his opponent throughout the entire fight , even after having been knocked down, himself . In the twenty-sixth round the bout came to an end with Johnson being knocked down , seemingly unwilling to make it to his feet. He would later acknowledge that he could have carried on and would have beaten Jess Willard , but knew that any effort that was put forth by him would have been in vain. The 5th April , !915 , would forever , change the face of boxing as we know it, as it would be three decades later before the sport would see another heavyweight champion of color , when Joe Louis won the title by defeating James Braddock , on June 22nd , !937 at Comiskey Park , in Chicago , Illinois , with an eighth round knockout of the champion.
After the championship title loss to Jess Willard , Jack Johnson would fight for another sixteen more years , winning twelve of his final thirteen bouts , never once being allowed to challenge for the heavyweight title again. The boxing establishment in America had enough the braggadocio pugilist and his claims as being the best boxer on the planet who mocked his white opponents for their lack of ability. In reality , it may well have had more to do with the fact that they saw with Johnson’s reign as the champion , more young men of color would seek to make a name for themselves in a predominantly white Caucasian driven sport , that was also dominated at every level by Caucasians and that had intertwined itself with the gaming interests in a number of circles that was also dominated by organized crime . Now the sport of boxing no longer needs organized crime to remain and maintain its seediness , as the remnants of such endeavors have now found themselves at the highest echelons of the sport within each of the main international governing bodies of boxing . Wherein , corruption prevails , promoters dictate, what title fights take place and in many respects, which fighters are given title shots , even when their credentials remain suspect . And I might add, in a sport that now sees declining audience participation, and where the two most prominent boxers of today, are now said to be in the waning years of their careers . It could be said, that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao can bring nothing new to the sport of boxing , that we have not yet seen from a bygone era .
Both Jack Johnson and Joe Louis , had the skills and the talent to garner fame worldwide , while carrying themselves with a great deal of character and respect. Can the same actually be said of many of today’s fighters, who followed in the footsteps two of the sport’s most renowned talents ? Do bear in mind that Johnson set the template for many of the antics we would later see with Muhammad Ali , with his imbued talents , of which a great many of his traits were also reminiscent of Joe Louis at his very best . Say what you will about the era of Mike Tyson , but in reality Tyson was not so much a boxer , he was more of a street brawler , with an intimidating disposition, that simply scared many of his opponents in the early part of his career .
Picture gallery .
What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the careers of Jack Johnson and Joe Louis ? Is it your belief that the sport of boxing during the era that each fought had a resounding effect on their lives and the way that they were said to have conducted themselves ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit on this and anything else that you feel is pertinent to this particular subject matter ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) World heavyweight champion , Jack Johnson , pictured , prepares to defend his title against Tony Ross at Duquesne Gardens in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , in June of 1909 . Johnson would go on to defeat Ross with sixth round victory , referee Jimmy Dime presiding . @ copyrighted material ………. all rights reserved .
(2) Jack Johnson is seen here during a ring workout in preparation for a defense of the World “Colored” Heavyweight” title . Johnson before actually winning the legitimate world championship primarily fought only black or Latin fighters because of the restrictions that prevailed within the sport of boxing at the time . The sport was a closely monitored and controlled by primarily white businessmen and organized gambling , who sought no participation whatsoever at any level by minority fighters or trainers . As with all of the major sports’ recreational activities , segregation dominated the landscape completely . In many cases there were legal statutes on the books around the country restricting mixed sports between Caucasians and minorities of any ethnicity . AP/REUTERS archives ….
(3) Johnson is seen here with the third of his three wives , Irene Pineau . The couple were married for twenty-five years , right up until his death in 1946. Attalla pictorial biographies .
(4) A pensive Joe Louis is seen here having just finished an arduous and rigorous ring schedule . Louis still remains the longest tenured champion in heavyweight boxing history , along with having made a record 25 consecutive title defenses . Time Inc @ copyrighted material ….. all rights reserved ….
(5) Joe Louis would prove to be triumphant in his rematch against German fighter Max Schmeling . Considered bitter rivals at the height of their respective careers . It was the “fog of war” and the looming appearance of the country having to enter WWII that brought about much of the seething vitriol and xenophobia aimed at Schmeling . The two ring rivals would end up being close friends , right up until the time Louis’ death , which Max Schmeling who had become a wealthy industrialist , and who would come his friend’s financial aid , as well as attending his funeral in 1981. REUTERS/ Thomson Inc …….
(6) Joe Louis , left , is seen here with former boxing adversary Max Schmeling . The two former pugilists fought two epic battles during their careers , but would later become firm friends . It was Schmeling who would provide Louis with financial assistance when the former world champion underwent financial difficulties , much of which was self-inflicted . However, a large portion of Louis’ ring earnings were squandered on meaningless investments or simply withheld from him surreptitiously by his then manager , Mike Jacobs . Joe Louis was also given assistance when renowned Harlem gangster and drug Lord , Frank Lucas paid off a $50,000 tax-lien placed against the fighter by the IRS. It should be noted that Louis a war hero and veteran during WWII , had been hounded by the IRS and US government for his debts. It would later take an act of Congress to have that debt stricken , in recognition of Louis contribution to the “war effort” and his contributions to the sport of boxing . Hearst Inc. / Keith Appleton ….. …….
NB : Reference source Ten Fascinating Interracial Marriages in History
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