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View Full Version : Unfogiveable Blackness - the rise and fall of Jack Johnson



bob
14th March 09, 05:31 PM
Unoforgiveable Blackness is a documentary on the life of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. I'd heard of Johnson before and knew a little about his life and fighting record but this film opened my eyes to just what a massive cultural influence he was in the early 20th century. His impact on America and the greater world was as great, if not greater than Muhammed Ali.

Johnson was an intelligent, articulate and quick witted man whose superiority over his peers in the ring had as much to do with his technical and strategic brilliance as anything. There is a wealth of archival footage of hundred year old boxing matches and it's evident that Johnson, even when pitted agianst the supposed champions of the day, was rarely even stretched in fending off their attacks and countering. His technique would seem fairly primitive by today's standards but it is far ahead of its time.

When Johnson finally beat the former champion Jim Jeffreys, who had ducked him for years because he refused to countenance the prospect of a negro world champion, race riots erupted across America with hundreds killed (mostly blacks). It was viewed by many as the first shot in the coming race war that would last well into the new century.

Johnson's greatest crimes, for which he ultimately paid dearly, were an innate self confidence that he refused to hide and a penchant for white women, often several at a time. Although he was abused and vilified in word and print more than most people could tolerate he was almost always amiable and charming. When asked by a white man why some white women preferred the company of black men he replied, "We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts."

I would highly recomend this film to anyone with an interesting in boxing history or history in general. Fascinating stuff. Four stars.

EuropIan
14th March 09, 07:00 PM
Four stars.

out of?

Cool review.

Steve
14th March 09, 07:05 PM
This is not at all the Jack Johnson I was thinking of.

It's a shame that is so.

Shawarma
14th March 09, 07:34 PM
I once saw a documentary on boxing. IIRC, it claimed that it was an old Jack Johnson who told Max Schmeling that Joe Louis dropped his guard after throwing a specific punch, which Schmeling went on to capitalise on and beat him. Anyone know if that's true? Would be ironic if it was, black dude helping a 3rd Reich era German beat the Great Black Hope.

Steve
14th March 09, 07:37 PM
It would make your day, wouldn't it?

Shawarma
14th March 09, 07:39 PM
Aber natürlich!

bob
14th March 09, 08:01 PM
out of?



5.

billy sol hurok
14th March 09, 08:11 PM
Big influence on this guy:

http://bigearflux.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/miles-davis-tribute-to-jack-johnson.jpg

Thanks for the review, BS. I'd been meaning to have a look at that.

bob
14th March 09, 09:16 PM
I once saw a documentary on boxing. IIRC, it claimed that it was an old Jack Johnson who told Max Schmeling that Joe Louis dropped his guard after throwing a specific punch, which Schmeling went on to capitalise on and beat him. Anyone know if that's true? Would be ironic if it was, black dude helping a 3rd Reich era German beat the Great Black Hope.

I'd never heard that. Could it have happened? Sure, Johnson was a great student of boxing and Louis was more a slugger. There's a great story of how a teenage Johnson was beaten by a much older, craftier white fighter in an unsanctioned match for which they both found themselves locked up. In the two months that they shared a cell the older man taught Johnson every trick he knew. Seriously, the Hollywood biopic writes itself on this one.

Would Johnson have done that? I'm a little dubious. He was renowned for going easy on black opponents in the ring and taking his frustration out on white opponents, particularly in the years when he was denied a shot at the title by a succession of white champions.

Quikfeet509
16th March 09, 12:44 AM
Didn't Johnston finally win his title in Australia since Jeffrey's wouldn't fight him in the US?


Or was that someone else...

bob
16th March 09, 06:29 AM
He beat Tommy Burns for the title in Sydney. Apparently a Sydney promoter was the only one willing to put the fight on. Jeffreys he fought in Reno.

OZZ
16th March 09, 11:43 AM
Ah yes, Tommy Burns the first, last and only Canadian heavyweight champion.
Jack Johnson is a very interesting character and his ability, as mentioned by the Op, was so far above most of his opponents that he literally toyed with them for rounds upon rounds because he could dispose of them any time he wanted to. I have seen some of the old fight footage and its more than obvious.
As for his personal life..he really angered people because he was so damn unapologetic about the way he 'romanced' white women at a time when black people were still being lynched by the Klan and getting away with it. Its actually amazing that he didn't get shot or something because he loved rubbing things in people's faces.
Great review..I hope I get a chance to see it.

Zendetta
16th March 09, 11:46 AM
I once saw a documentary on boxing. IIRC, it claimed that it was an old Jack Johnson who told Max Schmeling that Joe Louis dropped his guard after throwing a specific punch, which Schmeling went on to capitalise on and beat him. Anyone know if that's true? Would be ironic if it was, black dude helping a 3rd Reich era German beat the Great Black Hope.

There is more to the story than meets the eye - Schmeling had great respect for Louis and helped pay for his funeral when Louis died in poverty.

Shawarma
16th March 09, 12:36 PM
Yeah, I read the wiki entry on Shmelling too and have seen him on TV. He sounds like a really awesome guy, one of those non-nazi Germans we hear so much about, except he was actually real. Hid some Jewish kids in his house and all.

Zendetta
16th March 09, 01:54 PM
Yeah, seems like a stand up guy.

For a Kraut.

bob
16th March 09, 02:53 PM
It's interesting to see the racism that still goes on in combat sports, albeit a lot more subtly. Watch the Evans-Griffins fight simply for the commentary and count how many times Evans is referred to as 'athletic' and 'explosive' and Griffin is referred to as 'hard working'.

Shawarma
16th March 09, 02:55 PM
I don't get it. Is "explosive" some sort of euphemism for "negroid?"

bob
16th March 09, 03:00 PM
It's become one. Maybe racism is too strong a word but there's a stereotype.

Every time someone like Evans does something good it seems to get attributed to some natural athletic ability, this despite the fact that he has excellent footwork, great technical boxing and wrestling and, by all accounts a fantastic work ethic.

Shawarma
16th March 09, 03:19 PM
I dunno, Anderson Silva's black as tar, and his technical striking abilities are lauded like the second coming of Christ.

Think you're barking up the wrong tree here, people like Evans, Randleman and Rampage Jackson are called "explosive" because of their rasslin' slammy background rather than because of some latent racism IMO.

Although an overly racist UFC commentator would entertaining.

"And here we have good ol'e boy Chuck tryin' to choke out Evans. Good strategery by Chuck, the neck's the kneegrow's weak point."

A bit like the football commentator from South Park.

"I haven't seen such a beating since Rodney King!" and "I haven't seen a Jew run that fast since 1939!"

Ka-Bar
16th March 09, 03:38 PM
I don't know if it's latent racism or not, but every time you hear Rogan and Goldie talk about a black fighter, whether it's Rampage, Evans or it's Jon Jones or Anthony Johnson, they're all explosive, athletic, yadda yadda.

Is it a coincidence that these guys are all wrestlers by trade? Is that what makes them so "athletic" and "explosive?"

There are far more accomplished white wrestlers in the UFC, and you never hear them described in those terms.

bob
17th March 09, 02:30 AM
I dunno, Anderson Silva's black as tar, and his technical striking abilities are lauded like the second coming of Christ.

Think you're barking up the wrong tree here, people like Evans, Randleman and Rampage Jackson are called "explosive" because of their rasslin' slammy background rather than because of some latent racism IMO.


Go to MMAlinker and watch the fight.

Sun Wukong
17th March 09, 06:58 AM
yep, i am watching this movie.