Friday, June 8, 2012

The Chap: Jack Johnson

The following is an excerpt from my article on world heavyweight dandy Jack Johnson for the Chap Magazine:

...Jack Johnson was now the first black World Heavyweight Champion. He had everything but modesty: he wore patterned bow ties with a wing collar, bespoke suits in large windowpane checks, coats with wide fur lapels, a diamond stick pin, pearl shirt studs, and rings the size of plums. He carried an ivory-handled cane and always wore a jaunty hat, be it pork pie, boater, or trilby. His white girlfriends would be dressed to match in sable and mink. He drove sports cars at top speed, once causing a white police officer to fine him fifty dollars. Johnson peeled a hundred from a wad, and gave it to the officer, who stammered that he didn’t have change. Johnson told him not to worry about the change, because he’d be speeding on his way back, too.
People clamored for the former undefeated Heavyweight Champion Jim Jeffries to come out of retirement and wipe the smile off Johnson’s face, and finally public opinion and the promise of a fortune brought Jeffries off of his Alfalfa farm and back into the ring. Johnson wiped the mat with him on July 4th, 1910, and the next day race riots erupted across America.White America finally had its revenge when Johnson was arrested on Federal “white slave” trafficking charges for taking a white prostitute across state lines.... 

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