"ONE OF THE GREATEST FIGHTERS THAT EVER LACED ON A PAIR OF BOXING GLOVES" (DAMON RUNYAN), FIRST EDITION OF JACK JOHNSON—IN THE RING—AND OUT, 1927
(BOXING) JOHNSON, Jack. Jack Johnson—In the Ring—and Out. With Introductory Articles by "Tad," Ed. W. Smith, Damon Runyon, and Mrs. Jack Johnson. Chicago: National Sports Publishing, 1927. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. $850.
First edition of Johnson's dramatic autobiography, illustrated with 16 drawings and photographs, in original dust jacket.
When Jack Johnson defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in 1908 to become the world's first African American heavyweight champion, the white-dominated boxing community immediately set out to find a legitimate white contender for the heavyweight title. The media of the time called it the search for "The Great White Hope." By refusing to fight other Black fighters, Johnson found himself in a division so weak that former champion Jim Jeffries had actually retired unchallenged (Jeffries was later persuaded to come out of retirement to fight Johnson, only to throw in the towel in the 15th round, inciting a wave of race riots). Johnson's comportment outside the ring brought him as much notoriety and fame as his actions inside it. He owned his own jazz band, which performed in his own Chicago nightclub. He drove a flashy yellow sports car and flaunted gold teeth (once described by Jack London as his "golden smile"). It was seven years before the talented and self-assured champion would taste defeat. Damon Runyan, in his opening essay, hails Johnson as "one of the greatest fighters that ever laced on a pair of boxing gloves." Johnson lost his title in 1915 to Jess Willard, the largest man ever to venture into the sport. First edition, first printing: with "First Edition" stated on copyright page.
Book fine; mild edge-wear, toning to spine of bright dust jacket. An excellent near-fine copy.