LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – George Dixon

GeorgeDixonGEORGE DIXON – Canadian boxer George Dixon became the first black man to win a boxing championship. Born in 1870, Dixon began fighting at age 16, when he weighed only 87 pounds and stood 5’3”, earning him the nickname “Little Chocolate.” His career spanning twenty years and 104 fights (he had 44 fights in 1893 alone). Dixon won the world bantamweight championship in 1888, and in 1891 Dixon took the world featherweight title. Jack Johnson would go on to become the first black world heavyweight in 1908, after beating Tommy Burns. Before Johnson took the title, black fighters were not allowed to fight for the world championship, and instead had to vie for the “Black World Heavyweight Championship,” a title Johnson won in 1903. In 1910, former champion James Jeffries, known as “the Great White Hope,” came out of retirement to take the title back for the white race. Johnson destroyed Jeffries in “the Fight of the Century,” and his victory set off race riots. The fight had been filmed, as many prizefights were in those days, but it was felt that Jeffries’s defeat was so demoralizing the white population that Congress banned the exhibition of all prizefight films. The ban lasted from 1912 until 1940. The documentary Unforgivable Blackness – The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson is an excellent source of information on the fighter’s life and career. You can order the DVD by clicking HERE.

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