John Arthur “Jack” Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the Galveston Giant was an American boxer, who—at the height of the Jim Crow era—became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Johnson was faced with much controversy when he was charged with violating the Mann Act in 1912 even though there was an obvious lack of evidence and was largely racially based. In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.”
Johnson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, and is on the roster of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2005, the United States National Film Preservation Board deemed the film of the 1910 Johnson-Jeffries fight “historically significant” and put it in the National Film Registry.
During his boxing career, Jack Johnson fought 114 fights, winning 80 matches, 45 by knockouts.
Johnson once said
I’m Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world.
I’m black. They never let me forget it.
I’m black all right! I’ll never let them forget it!