“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Saturday, 6 October 2012

George Dixon. First black champion.

I have been reading Steven Laffoley's Shadowboxing the amazing story of the rise and fall of first black champion of the world George Dixon. I had heard of Dixon but had no idea just how much he achieved and how deeply he influenced the sport of boxing. Apart from being the first black world champion George was also the first fighter to hold world titles at two weights (bantam and featherweight) as well as being first to lose and then regain a world title. He may have fought as many as 800 bouts. One thing that stands out when looking at his record is the strangely disproportionate number of drawn results. This is explained by the simple fact that on so many occasions Dixon had clearly outpointed a white opponent and a draw was the compromise that the referee came up with to appease the racist crowd. It's worth bearing in mind the fact that during the years that Dixon was fighting as a pro (1886-1906) more than two thousand blacks were lynched.  Fighters of colour had far more than opponents to deal with.
Dixon was not just a great champion but was also a great innovator and is credited with introducing many of the techniques and training methods that would make boxing the sport that we know today.
By the age of 38 George had earned and spent a fortune and was to die penniless in the alcoholic ward of New York's Bellevue Hospital having lived a tragically short but hugely eventful life.

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