Matthew Syed chooses the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson. With Matthew Parris. From May 2011.
It was the fight of the century, July 4th 1910, when Tim Jeffries, the so-called Great White Hope, was stopped by Jack Johnson in the 15th round. Suddenly white supremacy didn't seem so self-assured. In America there were riots, while a follow up fight in Britain - between Johnson and the British champion, Bombardier Wells - never took place. A leader in the Times newspaper had urged the promoter to consider 'the special position of trusteeship for coloured subject peoples which the British empire holds ....'
Jack Johnson, also known as the Galveston Giant, has been proposed by Matthew Syed, a recent sports journalist of the year. His nomination is based not only on Johnson's life, but what he came to represent. The expert is Kasia Boddy, author of Boxing: A Cultural History. The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer Miles Warde.