On December 26th in the year 1908, an igbo man from Anambra, always with his eriri ozo on his legs, popularly known as Nduka aka Jack Johnson became the first African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion by knocking out Tommy Burns. For years America would not show this image of a blackman knocking out a white man.
Igbo to the world

By the early 1900s, the 6’2″ Johnson, who’d become known as the Galveston Giant, had made a name for himself in the Black boxing circuit and had his eyes set on the world heavyweight title, which was held by white boxer Jim F. Jeffries. Jeffries refused to fight him, though he wasn’t alone; white boxers would not spar with their Black counterparts.
But Johnson’s talents and bravado were too hard to ignore. Finally, on December 26, 1908, the flamboyant Johnson, who often taunted his opponents as he beat them soundly, got his chance for the title when champion Tommy Burns fought him outside of Sydney, Australia. Burns, who had succeeded Jeffries as champion, had only agreed to fight Johnson after promoters guaranteed him $30,000. The fight, which novelist Jack London attended and wrote about for a New York newspaper, lasted until the 14th round, when police stepped in and ended it. Johnson was named the winner.


From there, Johnson continued his calls for Jeffries to step into the ring with him. On July 4, 1910, he finally did. Dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” more than 22,000 eager fans turned out for the bout, held in Reno, Nevada. After 15 rounds, Johnson came away victorious, affirming his domain over boxing and further angering white boxing fans who hated seeing a Black man sit atop the sport.
Jeffries was humbled by the loss and what he’d seen of his opponent. “I could never have whipped Johnson at my best,” he said. “I couldn’t have hit him. No, I couldn’t have reached him in 1,000 years.” For the fight, Johnson earned a purse of $117,000. It would be five years before he relinquished the heavyweight title, when he fell to Jess Willard in a 26-round bout in Havana, Cuba. Johnson continued to fight for another 12 years, hanging up his gloves for good at the age of 50.

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Boxing Record:
In total, John’s professional record included 73 wins (40 of them being knockouts), 13 losses, 10 draws and 5 no contests.