“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Galveston in Galveston County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Samuel Collins III, September 17, 2014
1. Jack Johnson Marker

Galveston native Arthur John "Jack" Johnson (1878-1946) was the first African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He grew up in Galveston's East End and honed his fighting skills working on the wharves. During the 1900 storm, Johnson helped his family escape from their home on Broadway. In 1901, he refined his defensive skills with the help of Joe Choynski while in jail for illegal boxing. Johnson won the "Colored World Heavyweight Champion" title in 1903 but was determined to defeat white titleholder Tommy Burns. Though Burns initially refused the match, Johnson pursued him around the world until he finally agreed to fight in Australia in 1908. Johnson's technical knockout in the 14th round led to a search for a "Great White Hope" to retake the title. He defended his title in the 1910 "Fight of the Century" with a knockout of former champion James Jeffries. His victory spawned both riots and celebrations.

In 1912, the U.S. Government indicted Johnson under the Mann Act in an attempt to tarnish him and discourage his interracial relationships. He fled the U.S. and lived in exile for eight years. In 1915, Johnson fought
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
his last important match in Havana, Cuba. Although younger, fitter and taller, Jess Willard needed 26 rounds to knock out Johnson and take the heavyweight title. Johnson finally surrendered to Federal authorities in 1920. While in prison, he obtained two patents. Johnson continued to fight but never again for a title. He spent his later years as an entertainer and exhibition fighter. A car crash on a North Carolina road ended his life at age 68. Johnson, "The Galveston Giant," pursued his ambitions against rigid notions of racial hierarchy in 20th century America. His refusal to submit to the social standards of his time has made him an important figure in the struggle for racial justice.
Erected 2014 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16682.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsEntertainmentSports. A significant historical year for this entry is 1900.
Location. 29° 17.786′ N, 94° 47.676′ W. Marker is in Galveston, Texas, in Galveston County. Marker is at the intersection of Avenue M and 26th Street, on the right when traveling east on Avenue M. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2601 Avenue M, Galveston TX 77550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Public Education for Blacks in Galveston (about 300 feet away, measured
Jack Johnson image. Click for full size.
2. Jack Johnson
This photograph is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.
in a direct line); Helen E. Ebert (about 300 feet away); Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church (about 400 feet away); Ursuline Convent in the Civil War (about 700 feet away); Site of Ursuline Convent and Academy (about 800 feet away); James N. Davis House (about 800 feet away); Sweeney-Royston House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Olga Samaroff (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galveston.
Regarding Jack Johnson. Ken Burns has a two part documentary on this truly remarkable man. I urge you to watch it if you can. He may have been the best boxer of all time but his flamboyant life is the reason to watch. I'm fascinated by him.

Some fight observers thought Johnson, mistakenly believing that the charge against him would be dropped if he yielded the championship to a white man, that is he deliberately lost to Willard. Others who are more knowledgeable on the fight say he was winning for about 8 rounds but age, the 100+ broiling heat and his failure to prepare for the fight did him in by the 20th round.
Also see . . .
Jack Johnson Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, July 19, 2020
3. Jack Johnson Park
This gated park was locked at the time of this photo. The picture was taken from outside the fence.

The shadowed figure under the trees on the right side of the picture is a bronze statue of Johnson.

1. Galveston boxing champ getting a historical marker. Houston Chronicle website article (February 2014) (Submitted on September 21, 2014, by Samuel Collins III of Hitchcock, Texas.) 

2. Jack Johnson. Encyclopedia Britannica website entry (Submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.) 

3. Jack Johnson. Handbook of Texas website entry (Submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.) 
Bronze Statue of Jack Johnson image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, July 19, 2020
4. Bronze Statue of Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson image. Click for full size.
5. Jack Johnson
This photo is from the George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 9, 2023. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2014. This page has been viewed 771 times since then and 77 times this year. Last updated on August 4, 2020. Photos:   1. submitted on September 21, 2014, by Samuel Collins III of Hitchcock, Texas.   2. submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.   3, 4. submitted on July 20, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.   5. submitted on August 4, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Wide shot of marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
Paid Advertisements

Sep. 26, 2023