28 Black People Who Make White People Uncomfortable (Jack Johnson)
Yeah, look at him. I know you know way more about that Jack Johnson guy who looks more like this and sings the same Hawaii-elevator surf songs, but this guy had to have been the baddest dude to walk the planet for a good period of time. He was born the son of slaves, and became the heavyweight champion in an era when blacks were usually not allowed in the ring. He was one of the earlier users of the tactical “rope-a-dope” strategies, but instead of being called “clever” like his white contemporaries who use more cautious tactical approaches, he was often called “cowardly” and “devious”
He won the heavyweight title after years of the top white fighters refusing to fight him. So he actually followed the current world champion around the world, Tommy Burns; going to his fights, talking shit, and intimidating all the other people involved. Then when Burns gave in, he beat Burns…badly. The fight was stopped by police. This led to white promoters searching for the “Great White Hope” to beat him and regain the belt. He withstood several title defenses against said “Hopes” until he finally was beaten by Jess Willard, then described as a “giant” who at 6’6″ and 235 lbs was 5 inches taller and 30 lbs heavier than Johnson. And he also was the biggest heavyweight champion in US history up to that point.
Johnson’s personal life was perhaps even more bad ass. He married three white women, dabbled as a race car driver, actor, inventor (he has patents), and he founded the legendary Cotton Club in NY. He was once pulled over for speeding with a $50 ticket (a $50 ticket back then is like an infinity-billion dollar ticket today) and gave the cop a $100 bill and told him to keep the change because he would be coming back at the same speed. Bawse.
All of this as a black man in the South who openly dated and married outside his race and insulted white men to their face. And he died in a wreck while speeding away from a NC restaurant that wouldn’t serve him. That’s right, pretty much every part of this man’s life is beyond the scope of “fighting the man” that you’ve ever done. Ever.