South Hadley, Mass._A boxer who loved to chronicle his rise from a Texas teen to the world's first black heavyweight champion is getting more attention. Jack Johnson has more tales to tell.
They come nearly a century after his most famous bout, the 1910 defeat of "Great White Hope'' Jim Jeffries and decades after his death. His largely unknown 1911 musings to a French sports magazine, including candid observations on racism likely never intended for Americans, have been translated to English in their entirety.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted under the Federal Mann Act of transporting a white woman across state lines for immoral purposes. That woman, Lucille Cameron, would later become his wife. He fled while his case was on appeal and spent seven years in exile in Canada, France, Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. He returned to the United States in 1920. Johnson was arrested to serve eight months in prison for the 1913 immorality conviction.
The result, "My Life & Battles,'' is 127-page book by and about the boxer. Mount Holyoke College Professor Christopher Rivers translated and published the 1911 memoirs. Johnson died in 1946 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was 68.