Texas boxer becomes first black world heavyweight champion

July 20th, 1910

On this day in 1910, Galveston native Jack Johnson was recognized as the heavyweight champion of the world. He had won the Negro heavyweight championship in 1903. The reigning white champion, Jim Jeffries, refused to cross the color line, so Johnson had to wait until Jeffries came out of retirement to fight him in 1910. Johnson left the United States in 1913 to avoid arrest on charges of violation of the Mann Act. When he returned on July 20, 1920, he was arrested and jailed at Leavenworth. After his release he returned to boxing, but without success. He died in an automobile crash at Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1946.

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Texas boxer becomes first black world heavyweight champion

July 20th, 1910

On this day in 1910, Galveston native Jack Johnson was recognized as the heavyweight champion of the world. He had won the Negro heavyweight championship in 1903. The reigning white champion, Jim Jeffries, refused to cross the color line, so Johnson had to wait until Jeffries came out of retirement to fight him in 1910. Johnson left the United States in 1913 to avoid arrest on charges of violation of the Mann Act. When he returned on July 20, 1920, he was arrested and jailed at Leavenworth. After his release he returned to boxing, but without success. He died in an automobile crash at Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1946.

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Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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