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First African-American Boxing Champ

Census Bureau Daily Feature for Friday, December 26:
First African-American Boxing Champ

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Profile America — Friday, December 26th.

On this day 100 years ago, Jack Johnson knocked out Tommy Burns in a fight in Sydney, Australia to become the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion. The win fanned the flames of racism in the early part of the century, and caused riots in many U.S. cities. Johnson, from Galveston, Texas, went on to fight a number of challengers, including retired champion James Jeffries in a match called “the fight of the century.” Out of the ring, Johnson had a high profile, controversial lifestyle that kept him in the public eye. In 124 matches, he scored 89 wins, 49 of them knockouts. Today, more than 5.5 million people annually attend boxing matches across the U.S. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at

Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events 2008, p. 609
Statistical Abstract of the United States 2008, t. 1219

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at (look under the “Newsroom” button). For further information, contact Rick Reed: 301-763-2812; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail:

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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