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Gerald Early

Despite the tissue of untruths that fill In the Ring—and Out, Jack Johnson's 1927 autobiography, there is little doubt that even here he remained unyieldingly the auteur of his own mythology, that is, on the one indisputably true claim he made about the book. He wrote the book himself, without a ghost-writer. He is one of only, at best, a handful of star athletes who can say that.

Born in Galveston, Texas, on 31 March 1878, Johnson was the most charismatic and the most notorious African American figure in the American popular culture of his day.

He became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908. Johnson's fight against great white hope, Jim Jeffries, in July 1910 was the most discussed sporting event in American history at the time Johnson easily won the fight but race riots broke out all over the country afterward In Cuba in ...