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I Fight for a LivingBoxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915$
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Louis Moore

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041341

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041341.001.0001

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Colored Championship and Color Lines

Colored Championship and Color Lines

(p.92) 4 Colored Championship and Color Lines
I Fight for a Living

Louis Moore

University of Illinois Press

The color line in boxing indicated who had and did not have racial privileges. In 1882, when John L. Sullivan won the heavyweight championship, he knew enough about race, power, and privilege to proclaim that he would never fight a black man. Every white heavyweight champion followed Sullivan’s lead, until 1908, when Tommy Burns fought Jack Johnson. After Johnson beat Burns, the white press searched for a white hope to defeat Johnson. By 1912, however, without any credible white fighters save the race, white sportswriters turned Joe Jeannette and Sam Langford into “black hopes,” men that white writers believed had so-called “good black” qualities that whites could momentarily satisfy white men.

Keywords:   John L. Sullivan, Colored champion, Jack Johnson, Black hope, Heavyweight champion, Color line

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