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  #1  
Old 07-23-2020, 06:47 PM
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Eric S.
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Default Jack Johnson take from the pages of Bill Richmond?

I have been trying to decide if boxing should be considered more progressive compared to baseball up to the landmark signing of Jackie Robinson. Not that it was not filled with hatred and well known controversy and unfair road blocks, but worldwide, men of color competed against white fighters and not restricted to their own race well before baseball integrated. The terrible racism, fear and cowardice of many fighters did restrict opportunity so not suggesting this as a success story. Anyway, is it common knowledge that Johnson seemed to follow in the similar footsteps of Bill Richmond? Unapologetic, determined against huge odds, married to a white woman, evasive counter puncher(criticized for his style) and dapper. One a slave and the other a son of slaves. You guys probably are well schooled in this and it's old news but I'm curious as to what the general mentality is in regards to "blacks" fighting "whites" at a time they were not even permitted to compete in other sports. The "" are in reference to the stat backs of many prewar cards that oddly state the obvious by mentioning race. There are pictures or depictions of the fighters on the flip side for gods sake!

Was boxing progressive pre WWI and II?
Was Johnson aware of Richmond preceding his style?
Good resources for this topic?
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Old 07-23-2020, 07:35 PM
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The backs of the cards do this for many of the white fighters and track athletes in t218 frequently include a note on their ethnic backgrounds on the card backs. The ATC does not seem to have treated a race any differently than the others. Klaus is the "German-American fighter", Gardiner and Jack Sullivan among many others are specified as Irish, Driscoll as an Englishman, the track cards are replete with it. In T220, Jackson is specified as "colored", but Dixon and Gans have no ethnic comment.

No disparagement appears to be meant, on the T218's, on the T220's, on Henson's card in T68, especially in the context of a less sensitive period.
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:05 PM
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Eric S.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G1911 View Post
The backs of the cards do this for many of the white fighters and track athletes in t218 frequently include a note on their ethnic backgrounds on the card backs. The ATC does not seem to have treated a race any differently than the others. Klaus is the "German-American fighter", Gardiner and Jack Sullivan among many others are specified as Irish, Driscoll as an Englishman, the track cards are replete with it. In T220, Jackson is specified as "colored", but Dixon and Gans have no ethnic comment.

No disparagement appears to be meant, on the T218's, on the T220's, on Henson's card in T68, especially in the context of a less sensitive period.
Noted. My comment was more of a "captain obvious" statement.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:23 AM
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Jack Johnson was the first boxer I ever really collected and studied (even before I had a good grasp on the influence of Ali).

I doubt Jack was very aware of Richmond, and outside of some surface level similarities, I don't think they were much alike. Jack wasn't really a historian, or an activist of any type. Jack was all about Jack...........which was it's own type of revolutionary in his day.

Jack was closer in personality to Thomas Molineaux (who frustrated Richmond as a mentor/trainer, to no end), but was much more disciplined/skilled as an athlete. Maybe similar to Richmond as a boxer, if that type of comparison can even be made across that wide a gap of boxing evolution.

If I were to compare Richmond to any of the African-American icons of Johnson's time, it would probably be to Joe Jeannette. He gets lost in history, but at the time, he was the most outspoken about black fighters (not just himself) getting more chances in America. He was a very cerebral and outward thinker in many respects, and even called Jack Johnson out several times, for only giving white fighters, and lesser qualified black fighters shots at his title, after beating Tommy Burns. Jack was about the money, Jeannette was more about the "principle".

Certainly, boxing was more progressive then the other sports, when in came to who could participate against each other, especially outside of the U.S..

Then again combat sports fans, have never been particularly picky about who they see beat the tar out of each other, going all the way back to Roman Times, just as long as they get to see somebody (or something), bleed.
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Old 07-24-2020, 11:15 AM
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I don't think fight fans are any more enlightened than anyone else, there just wasn't a unified boxing body capable of enacting American Jim Crow over a sport that was always international. You want to proclaim yourself the baddest man on the planet, you better be willing to take on all comers regardless of color or ethnicity. Not to mention the fact that ethnic rivalry made for good gates. Jimmy McLarnin was called the "Jew Killer" for all of the Jewish fighters he beat, until he ran into my cousin's left hook.

As for ethnicity and cards, look at the 1920s Exhibits. From 1921-1928 ESCO generally stated the race, nationality and sometimes religion of the subject on the card backs. Jewish fighters were labeled as “Jewish”, “Jewish-American”, “Hebrew” or “Hebrew-American”, while fighters from other immigrant populations were categorized as “hyphen-Americans” (Polish-American, German-American, etc.) or from their family’s original locations. This applied even to fighters who were born in the United States. It is typical to see a fighter born in New York listed as Hebrew, Irish, Polish or Scottish. My favorite one of these nationality identifiers was that of Leo Lomski, a native Washingtonian who was identified in the 1928 set as “Polish-Jewish-American”. The racial tone of the era also was reflected in the cards. African-American fighters were frequently referred to as “colored” champions. All this labeling appears to be devoid of demeaning intent, however, as I have never seen any pejorative usage of a racial or ethnic label in the write-up on an Exhibit card, just a factual one.
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Old 07-24-2020, 06:41 PM
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Thanks Dave and Adam. That is the kind of info I'm looking for and now have more leads to follow. Very interested in reading about Jeanette. The "Jew Killer" getting knocked out by a Jewish man. That's good shit. I am really excited to be in the hobby again because of the rich global history of characters and hope I can pick your brains more along the way. I love fighting and miss it. Makes me want to coach and inspire and educate.
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Old 07-27-2020, 08:43 PM
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From the very little I've read about things, sports outside the US were a lot less divided.
Major Taylor was abused in several ways on and off the track in the US, and sadly had to go overseas to become an international star. Which he did almost instantly.
Bike racing in the late 1800s and very early 1900's was very nearly a combat sport. Don't like a guy or how he beat you last race? Hook his elbow and send him into the rail at 30mph. Some of that remained into the 50's and beyond.
(One of my older customers had a young guy give him all sorts of static about drafting him, along with the "you wish you were 1/10the the cyclist I am" rubbish. After a mile of drafting where the kid couldn't shake him he took a turn in front pushing the pace up every so often. because.. a good chase is fun!
I asked what happened after that
"So we got to that stretch in Bedford where there's hardly anyone, and I hooked his sorry arrogant ass into the dich and went home"
In like 2007 or so.....
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