Jack Johnson was born in Galveston in 1878. He went on to become the greatest boxer in the world and one of America's most famous celebrities. Johnson won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in 1903 but could not claim the overall title because white fighters refused to face him in the ring. That changed in 1908 when Johnson beat Tommy Burns to become the first African American World Heavyweight Champion. He defended his title against all comers, including retired champ James Jeffries. Jeffries announced his sole purpose for coming out of retirement was "proving a white man is better than a Negro." Johnson knocked Jeffries down twice before Jeffries gave up in the fifteenth round. More»

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Photo of Jack Johnson by Bain News Service. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.