This Day In History – Dec. 26th

By Terry Odenigbo

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On this day in 1908: Jack Johnson became the first African American to win the world heavyweight title when he knocked out Canadian Tommy Burns in the 14th round in a championship bout near Sydney, Australia. Johnson, who held the heavyweight title until 1915, was reviled by whites for his defiance of the “Jim Crow” racial conventions of early 20th-century America.The boxer that is still remembered as the greatest defensive boxer in heavyweight history was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878. Johnson dropped out of school after fifth grade and worked the docks of Galveston before taking up professional boxing. He proved himself a powerful fighter, but the rarity of champion white boxers agreeing to meet black challengers limited his opportunities and purses. In 1903, Johnson won the “Colored Heavyweight Championship of the World” and the next year issued a challenge to Jim Jeffries, the white American who held the world title at the time. Jeffries refused to meet him. History teaches us not to blame our society for our misfortunes or limitations. Even without a secondary school education and in a racist society; Jack broke many records and proved a success. We cannot blame Nigeria or our lack of government accountability for any failures we endure. History encourages us to transcend such encumbrances. What are your thoughts?

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