Jack Johnson
World Heavyweight Champion
1908 - 1915


b. March 31, 1878
d. June 10, 1946







A rare and unique vintage colorized photograph of heavyweight champion Jack Johnson... This large format photo originates from Australia and was a promotional item for Birmingham Smallwares made around the time of Johnson's title fight with Tommy Burns in 1908... Professionally framed and matted with a card signed by Johnson in black fountain pen ink  and two vintage Birmingham Smallware postcards of a more prevalent size... The nicest Jack Johnson item we've had the pleasure of offering!!

measures: (photograph) 19 x 29" (overall) 29.25 x 44.5"
condition: some trivial staining and soiling to photograph






The Crowning of the Uncrowned Champion

  On July 17, 1907, Jack Johnson scored one of his most impressive victories, a two round demolition of Bob Fitzsimmons, who, earlier in his career, had been the first man to win world championships in three weight divisions: middleweight, heavyweight, and light heavyweight. By this time Fitzsimmons was a wily and hard-hitting forty-five-year-old veteran of at least sixty professional fights. Jack had once worked as Bob's sparring partner, but now the student had become the master. It was a horribly one-sided contest, but Johnson's victory made international headlines and put further pressure on heavyweight champion Burns to finally take a fight with him. Burns insisted to the press that he would be willing to face Johnson, but only if he were guaranteed at least $30,000 for the bout. No man had earned more than half that amount for any prize fight before and the demand was regarded as Burns' way to avoid any actual meeting with Johnson.

After Johnson knocked out contender
Fireman Jim Flynn later in 1907, he traveled again to Australia, where Burns was scheduled to meet Bill Squires and Bill Lang in championship contests. Jack sat ringside at both fights and vocally taunted the champion throughout the matches. His presence in Australia became front page material for the country's leading newspapers and a local promoter, Hugh D. "Huge Deal" McIntosh, was inspired to come up with the then astronomical sum of $30,000 which Burns had half-jokingly required to ever face Johnson. Backed into a corner, Burns signed the contract and the fight was scheduled the day after Christmas, 1908, in a custom-built stadium erected along Sydney's Rushcutter's Bay. The fifty-some thousand spectators who turned out to watch the fight witnessed one of the most one-sided beatings any heavyweight champion ever took in the ring. Burns hit the deck in the first round and, though he rose to fight on, was badly outclassed by the bigger, stronger, more technically proficient challenger. Burns fought bravely but was in danger of losing his life by the time the police stopped the proceedings during the fourteenth round. Jack Johnson had become the first black man to win the richest prize in all of sports.