Lessons in Black History – George Dixon

GeorgeDixonGeorge Dixon – Canadian boxer George Dixon became the first black man to win a boxing championship. Born in 1870, Dixon weighed only 87 pounds and stood 5’3”, earning him the nickname “Little Chocolate.” He started fighting at the age of 16, his career spanning twenty years and 104 fights (he had 44 fights in 1893 alone). Dixon won the world bantam weight championship in 1888, and in 1891 Dixon won the world featherweight title. Jack Johnson would go on to become the first black world heavyweight in 1908, after beating Tommy Burns. Before Johnson took the title, black fighters were not allowed to fight for the world championship, and instead had to vie for the “black world heavyweight championship,” at title Johnson won in 1903. In 1910, former champion James Jeffries, known as “the Great White Hope,” came out of retirement to take the title back for the white race. Johnson destroyed Jeffries in “the Fight of the Century,” and his victory set off race riots. The fight had been filmed, as many prizefights were in those days, but it was felt that Jeffries’s defeat was so demoralizing to the white population that Congress banned the exhibition of all prizefight films. The ban lasted from 1912 until 1940.

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