Champion Boxer Faces Racially Motivated Charge
John Arthur “Jack” Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas in 1878. He worked as a dock worker but in 1901 he fought experienced boxer Joe Choynski in Galveston in an illegal match. Both men were jailed and Choynski taught Johnson the skills of boxing while they were in prison. Johnson developed his own style of boxing that was slow and deliberate. It was very effective but it was criticized in the press as being cowardly and devious. By 1902 Johnson had won at least 50 fights against both white and black opponents. Johnson won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in February 1903. He wished to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship but reigning champion James J Jeffries refused to face him. Johnson fought former champion Bob Fitzsimmons in July 1907 and knocked him out in two rounds.
Johnson is a independent African-American who does not fit stereotypes or the roles white society thinks he should conform to. He openly socializes with white women and paid no deference to the color line. In January 1911, Johnson married Brooklyn socialite and divorcee Etta Terry Duryea. Etta suffered from severe depression and after just 8 months of marriage, committed suicide by shooting herself in the head in September 1912. Shortly afterwards Johnson began seeing Lucille Cameron, an 18 year old prostitute, an act that outraged the public.
On October 17 1912 Jack Johnson is arrested on a charge of abduction. Lucille Cameron denies the charge and will refuse to testify against Johnson.