Jack Johnson (boxer)
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Johnson in 1915
|Height||6 ft 1⁄2 in (184.2 cm)|
|Reach||74 in (188 cm)|
|Born||March 31, 1878|
|Died||June 10, 1946 (aged 68)|
|Wins by KO||40|
John Arthur Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the Galveston Giant, was an American
In 1912, Johnson opened a successful and luxurious "black and tan" (
Johnson continued taking paying fights for many years, and operated several other businesses, including lucrative endorsement deals. Johnson died in a
Johnson was born the third child of nine, and the first son, of Henry and Tina Johnson, two former slaves who worked blue collar jobs as a janitor and a dishwasher. His father Henry served as a civilian teamster of the Union's 38th Colored Infantry. Jack once said his father was the "most perfect physical specimen that he had ever seen", although his father was only 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) and left with an
Although Johnson grew up in the South, he said that segregation was not an issue in the somewhat secluded city of Galveston, as everyone living in the 12th Ward was poor and went through the same struggles. Johnson remembers growing up with a "gang" of white boys, in which he never felt victimized or excluded. Remembering his childhood, Johnson said: "As I grew up, the white boys were my friends and my pals. I ate with them, played with them and slept at their homes. Their mothers gave me cookies, and I ate at their tables. No one ever taught me that white men were superior to me."
Johnson was a frail young boy.
After Johnson quit school, he began a job working at the local docks. He made several other attempts at working other jobs around town until one day he made his way to Dallas, finding work at the race track exercising horses. Jack stuck with this job until he found a new apprenticeship for a carriage painter by the name of Walter Lewis. Lewis enjoyed watching friends spar, and Johnson began to learn how to box. Johnson later claimed that it was thanks to Lewis that he became a boxer.
At 16, Johnson moved to Manhattan and found living arrangements with
Returning home from Manhattan, Johnson had a fight with Davie Pearson. Johnson remembers Pearson as a "grown and toughened" man who accused Johnson of turning him in to the police over a game of craps. When both of them were released from jail, they met at the docks and Johnson beat Pearson before a large crowd. Johnson fought in a summer league against a man named John "Must Have It" Lee. Because prize fighting was illegal in Texas, the fight was broken up and moved to the beach where Johnson won his first fight and a prize of one dollar and fifty cents.