In 1908, on the day after Christmas, the great black heavyweight Jack Johnson stepped into a boxing ring in Sydney, Australia, to fight the reigning champ, a stubby Canadian called Tommy Burns. There was more at stake--much more--than a boxing belt. Johnson--flamboyant and free-spirited, a man who bowed to no one--was despised by white America. His participation in a title bout constituted a breach of the sport's color line, established in the 1880s by the first heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan. "I will not fight a Negro," Sullivan had declared. "I never have... More >>>