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Home > Boxing News > 05/01/2016 > FUGITIVE DAYS

FUGITIVE DAYS

CARLOS ACEVEDO TELLS THE STORY OF FALLEN HEAVYWEIGHT KING JACK JOHNSON'S CHAOTIC TIME IN EXILE
THE WANDERER: Johnson [left] in Paris after fleeing Chicago in 1913
Photo: MAURICE-LOUIS BRANGER/ROGER VIOLLET/ GETTY IMAGES

★ JACK JOHNSON ★

'POOR ROVER! WILL YE NEVER HAVE DONE WITH ALL WEARY ROVING? WHERE GO YE NOW?' MOBY DICK

APRIL 5, 1915 — down at last, in the 26th round of a bout fought under a blistering sun before thousands of hecklers, even there, in Havana, more than 300 miles away from American bedrock. Down, and at the feet of “The Pottawatomie Giant,” Jess Willard, a cowpuncher who lumbered out of The Great Plains, shucking spurs, lassos, chaps, all the way to the heavyweight championship of the world.

From the moment he lost his title to a primitive “White Hope” in an equally primitive ring set up in Cuba, Jack Johnson, renegade, dandy, scourge of America, where, to his everlasting misfortune, interracial marriage was banned in several states, was a burnt-out case. Even before losing to Willard and relinquishing his status as “The Black Avenger”, Johnson had sent a telegram to his mother in Chicago that read in part: “I AM TIRED OF KNOCKING AROUND.”

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