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The Great White Hope Historical Context

Howard Sackler
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Historical Context

Jack Johnson, Heavyweight Champion of the World

The Great White Hope is a work of fiction based on a historical figure, a black American prizefighter named John Arthur "Jack" Johnson. Not unlike Sackler's fictional Jack Jefferson, Johnson aggravated white America by refusing to behave in a passive, submissive fashion expected of blacks at that time. In 1908, he traveled to Sidney, Australia, to fight and defeat Tommy Burns and became the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World. Public outrage and disbelief over the victory were catalysts for the match between former champ Jim Jeffries, "The Great White Hope," and Johnson. On July 4, 1910, Johnson defeated Jeffries after fifteen rounds.

Johnson later married two white women in the years following the victory. He was also arrested in the company of his white fiancée in 1912 in accordance with the Mann Act. He escaped incarceration, fleeing to Canada and Europe...

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This section contains 836 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Great White Hope Study Guide
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The Great White Hope from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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