The Great White Hopes: The Quest to Defeat Jack Johnson

The Great White Hopes: The Quest to Defeat Jack Johnson

Graeme Kent

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 075094613X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In 1908 talented black US fighter Jack Johnson won the heavyweight championship of the world from the Canadian Tommy Burns. There was an immediate storm of protest. Writers, including Jack London, and politicians feared the accession of the fearless and outspoken Johnson would threaten white supremacy. It was predicted f{ accurately f{ that his reign would lead to civic unrest and race riots. Over the next seven years, more than 30 white fighters tried to beat Jackson, lured by the prospect of fame and a quick buck. It was not until 1915 that Jackson lost his crown, and during the years in between an extraordinary human drama was played out on the boxing world stage. Graeme White tells the full story of the Great White Hopes for the first time.

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another fighter: ‘New York newspapers are acclaiming Greek Knockout Brown of Chicago as a coming world’s middleweight champion. That’s not surprising. They fell for Vic McLaughlin [sic] as a prospective white hope.’ The theatrical bookings were beginning to dry up as well. McLaglen and brother Arthur had had enough. ‘We got tired of that,’ he explained simply, ‘so we shipped for Hawaii. From there we went to the Fiji islands, Tahiti and Australia.’ Attempts to dive for pearls in the South Sea

his wealth with fast cars and sprauncy clothes, and, oh, the horror of it, he married two white women and formed a liaison with a third, which led to a criminal charge and exile from the States. In the seven years of his reign as champion, the world of boxing was determined to get him beaten. Before we get too high-minded about what seems to us now an insane chase for a white Sir Galahad, let’s remember that other sports dragged their feet when it came to recognising black talent. Jackie

two heavyweights, but they were matched to fight again in New York. The return bout was another shocker. Ferguson had done no training for the bout, while Jeanette was determined to avenge the so-called defeat in their last encounter. The white fighter knew that he had no chance against an untrammelled Joe Jeanette, and gave a disgraceful exhibition. The New York correspondent of Boxing was scathing in his condemnation of the way in which Ferguson froze when he saw Jeanette advancing on him

against a White Hope. As it happened, one of the best was currently plying his trade in Europe. This was the cheerful, libidinous red-haired American Frank Moran. Moran had spent some time in the United States Navy, serving President Teddy Roosevelt as quartermaster on the presidential yacht Mayflower, and he had also been a deckhand on the luxury yacht of the millionaire J.P. Morgan. Upon his discharge he had also spent several weeks as a student at a dental school at the University of

given the Gunboat a merciless beating over ten rounds. With his mind on other things, the hack had scribbled his report of the fight based on Johnston’s version. This was the solitary cutting that the handler used when trying to book more fights for Rodel with promoters. Johnston might have been able to get his heavyweight bouts, but Rodel could not make the most of the opportunities presented. In a return bout with Smith he was knocked out in three rounds. He won only one more fight in 1913,

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