Jack Johnson (boxer) - Boxing Style

Boxing Style

Johnson's boxing style was very distinctive. He developed a more patient approach than was customary in that day, basically playing with his opponents, often carrying on a conversation with ring-siders at the same time as he was fighting. Johnson would begin a bout cautiously, slowly building up over the rounds into a more aggressive fighter. When annoyed, he often fought to punish his opponents rather than knock them out, endlessly avoiding their blows and striking with swift counters. He always gave the impression of having much more to offer and, if pushed, he could punch powerfully. There are films of some of his fights in which he can be seen holding up his opponent, who otherwise might have fallen, until he recovered.

Those were the days when the (mostly white) patrons liked value for money, and it was a habit, especially for black boxers, to make the fight last a respectable time. With the many bouts a fighter engaged in, it was commonplace to have fought the same opponent as many as a dozen or even more times. So it is highly likely that the results of many of these fights were "pre-arranged," and also pre-determined to last a goodly number of rounds.

Johnson's style was very effective, but it was criticized in the press as being cowardly and devious. By contrast, world heavyweight champion "Gentleman" Jim Corbett had used many of the same techniques a decade earlier, and was praised by the press as "the cleverest man in boxing."

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