Some sports will forever be linked to Black Americans. With its innumerable roster of memorable Black greats, basketball is usually the first sport that comes to mind, but boxing is equally known for an array of Black champions. Due to how synonymous Black Americans are with boxing, it's almost unreal to imagine that there was a time when they weren't allowed to compete with white fighters. The boxing historians in the audience know that Jack Johnson was the first Black boxer to capture the heavyweight title—and do it in style no less. However, who did Johnson win the the belt from?
On this day in 1905, James J Jeffries retired from the sport of boxing as an undefeated champion. Perfectly content with the shape of his career, Jeffries put boxing in the rearview of his life until Jack Johnson began calling him out for a title fight. Jeffries was a vocal racist that claimed it was impossible for a Black fighter ever to beat a white man and, to substantiate his point, he ducked Johnson's call out for years. Eventually, Johnson trounced enough white fighters that Jeffries felt compelled to save the reputation of the white race and was subsequently put on his ass by Johnson. So here's to Jeffries; thanks for making Johnson a superstar by turning himself into a literal punchline.