More than a century ago, Jack Johnson fought Jess Willard, who was managed by Augusta, Illinois native Tom Jones. Their story is told by another Augusta native, Louisiana resident Brent Engel, in a book published last year .
Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champion, but lost the title to Willard in 1915 – three years after he allegedly violated the Mann Act. The law made it a crime to take a woman across state lines for immoral purposes, which at the time included interracial relationships. The woman later became Johnson’s wife. Trump pardoned the fighter on Thursday. Johnson was killed 72 years ago in a car accident minutes after being refused service at a North Carolina diner because he was black.
According to Engel, Jones was considered one of the top boxing managers in the early 20th century.