President Trump stepped-up on this week to do what every American president has failed to do for over 100 years: Erase a racist stain from the past, by pardoning black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
On Thursday’s edition of Breitbart News Tonight, Breitbart Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak, welcomed former New York State Boxing Commissioner Randy Gordon to the show. In addition to having served as a commissioner, Gordon hosts At The Fights on Sirius XM 93.
Mansour began the discussion by asking Gordon to give a background and history of Jack Johnson, and to try and put into focus how the rise of such a talented fighter could have caused so much controversy.
I mean, this is a very big slice of American history. Jack Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878. So, slavery had just recently ended. They called him the “Galveston Giant,” he was big for that day, he was just a little under 6’1 and by today’s standards in the heavyweight ranks that’s not really big at all. The fact is that he was born in Galveston and he started to box when he was just ten, twelve years old. And he turned professional at 19 when he realized he had the skills to make some money doing this, make a career out of it.
The only thing is, when he turned professional in 1897, and he started beating one white guy after another. White America was not ready for a guy like Jack Johnson. The way I can best describe him, he was the Muhammad Ali of his day. And when Ali was around years ago, even then white America had trouble embracing him until long after his retirement.
But with Jack Johnson it was just not accepted at all, and when he won the heavyweight championship in 1908, toying with the heavyweight champion who came from Canada, by the name of Tommy Burns. It upset white America to no end, and that’s where the expression came in, ‘The Great White Hope.’ Because boxing enthusiasts and promoters began looking for someone to beat, this brash heavyweight champion named Jack Johnson.
While Johnson’s meteoric rise as a black fighter during a period of overt racism in American history certainly explains the angst that “White America” felt towards him. It doesn’t explain how Johnson found himself in jail and needing to be pardoned.
Which led Pollak to ask Gordon what exactly had this great, black heavyweight done wrong?
Gordon explained: …