Jack Johnson’s Triumph

Lately, I’ve been thinking about fear, quitting, and losing everything. I’ve been on a winding road for several months, not knowing what direction I should take. What I am working on is not showing much progress. Moreover, I’ve become sick of the entrepreneurial cliches like “Stuff takes twice as long as you think it will” or “Just don’t quit”.

What does hit me are real examples of triumph. That’s why I want to talk about Jack Johnson, the boxer who became the first African American Heavyweight World Champion.

Jack Johnson,

Here is a man who was born to parents who were slaves, in Texas, in 1878. His world was filled hatred and injustice. For example, this was a time when the charred bodies of lynched African Americans were still on Texas postcards. The all time high for lynchings didn’t even occur until a few years after he was born. It just makes your soul bleed to even think about it

Yet, Johnson dared to follow his dream of being the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

The reason I bring this up is to point out that if you think your life is hard or bad, let me ask you how many of your fellow people are being killed for just daring to be a human being. Of course, there are weeds. Of course, everyone has problems. But just listen to the rest of this.

The Heavyweight World Champion

It all culminated in 1908 Sydney, Australia. Johnson has dominated African American boxing. But because The World Champion Title was off-limits to blacks, Johnson had no way of becoming the true world champ. The then-current world champion, Tommy Burns, refused to fight Johnson. So, for two years, Johnson followed Burns around the world taunting and talking trash in the press.

Question: Why stop trying? Have you gone this far? Have you really taken massive action? Have you tried like this guy did? This man had all odds against him. He was lucky to not be assassinated, and yet, for two years, he didn’t stop harrassing and pushing.

Finally, Burns agreed to fight Johnson, but only after being guaranteed a lot of money win or lose. It was one hell of a battle. 14 rounds. Johnson won by referees decision.

Incredibly, Johnson became the first African American Heavyweight World Champion of Boxing.


Naturally, angry white people questioned the result. Racism in the American deep south fueled outrage. People were calling the win bullshit, and were seeking out someone to be “The Great White Hope”. They wanted to prove once-and-for-all that whites were superior, and they found their hope in the retired undisputed world champion, James Jefferies. (Another man who had previously refused to fight Johnson.)

The Fight of The Century

I wont tell the whole story. It’s too long, and you can find it in many places. Here’s what you do need to know:

Jefferies came out of retirement. They fought. It was incredible. Johnson kicked the living shit out of this dude. In 1910 the “Great White Hope” got his ass whooped! Astonishingly, you can even watch the highlights. ESPN 1910 version.

This is the type of story that gets me going. I love this. It shows that with skill, hard work, determination, grit, and a little luck, great things can happen sometimes, even against the greatest adversity. So why not try? Why not push the limits of your ability? Why not hustle like a force of nature and try to kick the shit out of the evils in your way? Life is a toss up no matter what direction you choose. So you may as well try to achieve your dreams.

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it. — Tony Robbins

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Lucas La Tour