About the Show

He was the son of former slaves and, from 1904 to 1915, Jack Johnson was the best heavyweight boxer in the world. His 1908 victory over the white heavyweight champion triggered a worldwide search for 'the Great White Hope' to re-establish the idea of white superiority. But many were outraged by Johnson's increasingly bold personal life during which he openly courted, accompanied and married white women. In 1912 he was convicted of a spurious offence, but he fled the country to avoid prison. Johnson's story is far more than a portrait of one of the most talented and courageous athletes that ever lived. It is also the story of how a nation was forced to reconcile widely held notions of racial supremacy and social order with one man's single-minded determination to live his life outside the confines of colour lines. Part 1 of 2.