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Texas boxer becomes first black world heavyweight champion

July
20
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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