Jack Johnson, American boxer, (1938). Nicknamed the 'Galveston Giant', Jack Johnson (1878-1946) became world champion in 1908 when he defeated Canada's Tommy Burns in Sydney. There was considerable opposition to the concept of a black man being world heavyweight champion, and a succession of 'great white hopes' attempted to take the title from Johnson. In 1910 in what was billed 'the fight of the century', the former undefeated champion James J Jeffries came out of retirement to fight Johnson in Reno, Nevada. Jeffries stated I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro and the fight took place in a highly charged atmosphere of racial tension. Johnson dominated the fight, and Jeffries' corner pulled him out in the 15th round to prevent him suffering a knockout. Johnson earned $225,000 from his victory, which sparked race riots across the United States. He held the world title until 1915, when he was defeated by Jess Willard. A Churchman's Cigarettes picture card. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)