More than 100 years ago the fights between two white fighters were a very common view. Despite of this fact the observers of that time described the first black World Champion Jack Johnson as the most recognized Afro-American of the beginning of 20-th Century.
Jack Johnson, or John Arthur Johnson in full name, was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas, in the family of former slaves. The father of family, Henry Johnson raise six children and taught them how to read and write. Johnson dropped out of school after five or six years of education to get a job as a dock worker in Galveston.
Johnson's boxing style was very distinctive. He developed a more patient approach than was customary in that day, playing with his opponents. Johnson would begin a bout cautiously, slowly building up over the rounds into a more aggressive fighter. When annoyed, he often fought to punish his opponents rather than knock them out. Johnson won his first title on February 3, 1903, beating Denver Ed Martin on points in a 20-round match for the World Colored Heavyweight Championship. Johnson held the title until it was vacated when he won the world heavyweight title from Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia on Boxing Day 1908. In 1910, former undefeated heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement to challenge Johnson. The fight took place on July 4, 1910 in front of 20,000 people, at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno, Nevada. Jeffries proved unable to impose his will on the younger champion and Johnson dominated the fight. By the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down twice for the first time in his career, Jeffries corner threw in the towel to end the fight and prevent Jeffries from having a knock out on his record. The "Fight of the Century" earned Johnson $65,000 (over $1.5 million in 2012 dollars). On April 5, 1915, in Havana, Cuba, Johnson lost his title to Jess Willard, a working cowboy from Kansas. Johnson was knocked out in the 26th round of the scheduled 45 round fight. Johnson, although having won almost every round, began to tire after the 20th round, and was visibly hurt by heavy body punches from Willard. Later on, Johnson continued his carrier often fighting in Mexico and Europe. He fought until 1931 and retired being 53-years-old, with the record of 54(35 KO)-11(6 KO)-9.
Johnson was an early example of the celebrity athlete in the modern era, appearing regularly in the press and later on radio and in motion pictures. He earned considerable sums endorsing various products, including patent medicines, and indulged several expensive hobbies such as automobile racing and tailored clothing, as well as purchasing jewelry and furs for his wives. On June 10, 1946, Johnson died in a car crash. He was 68 years old at the time of his death. He was buried in Chicago, his grave was initially unmarked, but a stone that bears only the name "Johnson", now stands above the plot of Jack. On March 31, The Galveston Giant would celebrate his 136-th Birthday!
And one more fighter is celebrating his Birthday on March 31. It is former amateur world champion, Ramon Garbey. Garbey was born 1971 in Camaguey, Cuba. 1991 World Championships in Sydney, Ramon finished with the bronze medal at middleweight (75 Kilo). At the next WCH in Tampere'93, Garbey became the world lightheavyweight (81 Kilo) champion. Not being qualified to 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Garbey defects to US and turns pro. Since 1996 until 2009, he has a record of 19(13 KO)-4 and WBC and WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight belts. On March 31 Ramon Garbey became 43!