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Jack Johnson, Boxer

            Arthur John (Jack) Johnson (1878 -1946) was the first black, and the first Texan, to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world. His record is 113 fights with 79 victories and only eight losses, 12 draws and 14 no-decisions. Johnson’s athletic success created racial tensions in the early 20th century, when many parts of the United States had laws that upheld racial segregation (the separation of people on the basis of their race) Born in Galveston on March 31, 1878, he was the second of six children of Henry and Tiny Johnson. Henry was a former slave and his family was poor. After leaving school in the fifth grade, Johnson worked odd jobs around South Texas. Johnson became interested in boxing while working as a janitor at a gymnasium. He started boxing as a sparring partner and fought in the "battles royal," matches in which young blacks entertained white spectators who threw money to the winner. He quickly established himself as a leading black boxer in Galveston. Johnson turned professional in 1897. Over the next few years Johnson gained a reputation as a quick and powerful fighter. His family's home was destroyed by the great hurricane of 1900. A year later he was arrested and jailed because boxing was a criminal profession in Texas. He soon left Galveston for good. Johnson first became the heavyweight champion of Negro boxing he won this first title on February 3, 1903, beating 'Denver' Ed Martin over twenty rounds. Jim Jeffries, the white champ at the time, refused to fight Johnson because he was black. Then, in 1908, Johnson knocked out Tommy Burns in Australia to become world champion, the fight lasted fourteen rounds before being stopped by the police. The title was awarded to Johnson on a referee's decision as a T.