The Hand Shake

The photo of John Sullivan and Jack Johnson shaking hands is a powerful symbol of the history of American professional boxing. These two men were giants of the sport in their time, and their careers helped to shape the sport as we know it today.

John Sullivan, also known as the "Boston Strong Boy," was the first boxing superstar and one of the world's highest-paid athletes of his era. He popularized the sport through his dynamic fighting style and his media savvy, and his matches were widely covered in newspapers across the country. He set the standard for sports journalism and helped to establish boxing as a major cultural force in the United States.

Jack Johnson, on the other hand, was the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion. He achieved this feat during the height of the Jim Crow era, when racial segregation was still a pervasive reality in America. Despite the odds against him, Johnson proved to be one of the most dominant boxers of his time, holding the title for more than thirteen years. His fight against James J. Jeffries in 1910 was dubbed the "fight of the century" and it transcended boxing and became part of the culture and the history of segregation in America.

In this photo, Sullivan and Johnson are captured in a moment of mutual respect and sportsmanship, symbolizing the progress that the sport of boxing has made towards equality and fairness. It is a reminder of the powerful impact that these two great boxers had on the sport and on American culture.

Article written by Kit Coughran 1/16/2023