Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A knockout, 23 Jun 2007
This review is from: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (Paperback)
Jack Johnson was one of the most charismatic figures of twentieth century America. In 1909, at a time when the colour bar ran marrow-deep through every aspect of America's national identity, he achieved a feat that remains incredible to this day - he became the first black man to win the world heavyweight title. Clever, articulate and blessed with possibly the best boxing skills the division had ever seen, he lived his live the way he wanted to; and not within the parameters set for him by racist convention. He consorted with white women, drove fast cars and revelled in the fact that the title of world champion - preserve of white America (even our own Bob Fitsimmons - statistically Britain's first heavyweight champion had to become an American citizen before being allowed to relieve Jim Corbett of the crown) was worn around the waist of a black man. In doing so he inspired hatred and admiration in equal measure, even black America was divided; some rejoiced in his success, others felt his behaviour was detrimental to America's fragile race relations. Geoffrey Ward's book is an exhaustively researched portrait of Johnson. Eventually hounded into exile and later imprisoned on inflated charges, his rise and fall is covered with great detail and sensitivity. This is an excellent book for sports fans and social historians alike. Highly recommended
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4.7 out of 5 stars (25 customer reviews)
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