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Did you know New Mexico once hosted a heavyweight championship fight? It was in Las Vegas, N.M. The colorful fight fell off my radar screen during our state’s centennial last year. But then-heavyweight champ Jack Johnson still is in the news so let’s talk about him now.
The fight was on July 4, 1912, just short of six months after New Mexico finally became a state on January 6. It was difficult for Johnson to find a fighting venue because he was the first black heavyweight champion. Most states wouldn’t allow an interracial fight. Most of his fights were held in Mexico, some in Canada and Europe and one in Australia.
The fight was known for being stopped in the ninth round by the local sheriff because Johnson’s opponent, fireman Jim Flynn, was fighting extremely dirty and the referee couldn’t handle the situation.
Johnson made it even tougher on himself because of his preference for white women. He had three wives, all white and many white girlfriends. His detractors constantly looked for a Great White Hope to take the championship away from Johnson.
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