Jack Johnson Defeats The Great White Hope; Leads His Own Jazz Band

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson

Professional boxer Jack Johnson was featured on newspapers across the country today (July 5, 1910), after defeating boxer Jim Jeffries.

Jeffries, who was billed as “The Great White Hope,” fought Jack Johnson in what was billed as “The Fight of the Century,” in Reno, Nevada.

Jack Johnson defeated Jeffries, who gave up in the 15th ground.

Johnson’s defeat of Jeffries sparked race riots in 50 cities across the United States.

Just two years after he defeated Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson was indicted for violating The Mann Act.

The Mann Act had been established in June, 1910, to prohibit the transportation of females of across state lines for “immoral purposes,” with the intent of curbing prostitution.

But it is well known that Jack Johnson was targeted because of his penchant for publicly dating white women during the time.

Jack Johnson and his wife
Jack Johnson and his wife

As a result of the charges, Jack Johnson fled to France, where he stayed in exile for almost eight years.

In 1920, Jack Johnson decided to return to the United States and serve his time for violating The Mann Act.

By this time, Johnson’s boxing career was pretty much finished, so turned to the field of entertainment.

Johnson cashed in on his name and celebrity, by starting his own jazz band and taking small parts and roles in movies.

In 1920, Jack Johnson he opened up the Club Deluxe at 142nd St. and Lenox Avenue in Harlem.

The prison stay severely impacted Johnson’s businesses and by 1923 clubs that he owned in New York and Chicago were on the verge of closing.

Owney Madden
Owney Madden

As a result, in 1923, Jack Johnson’s sold Club Deluxe to a gangster named Owney Madden, who was backed by Chicago’s Al Capone.

In 1923, Club Deluxe was re-opened as The Cotton Club, the most popular nightclub in Harlem.

Artists like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Bing Crosby, Cole Porter, Jimmy Durante and numerous other entertainers passed through The Cotton Club.

Waxfact: Miles Davis released a legendary album in 1971 titled A Tribute to Jack Johnson.

The album served as the soundtrack to a documentary about Jack Johnson, who is one of the most famous boxers in history.

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