This is an America story that would brighten your day
Throughout history, heroic figures have been worshiped for their inspirational passion, great courage, self-sacrifice, and resolve in the face of danger and adversity.
We all like to believe that the inspiration for such level of courage is often caused by the need to fight some moral injustice, to make the success even more glorious or the failure worthwhile.
Certainly Hollywood movies use this concept in their blockbusters to let us watch couple of hours of their production waiting for the good guy to beat the bad guy against all odds.
Many of these heroic figures (often myths and folk heroes from the ancient times) remain in our consciousness and give us hope and strength at times when we find ourselves in need of inspiration to rise to the challenges we ourselves face each day in our own lives.
In almost every case, these fictional heroes are based on some vague historic event with little or no proven evidence or reliable information.
Even more, almost all these heroes are the embodiment of some kind of physical strength that has been transformed into fairy tales, e.g. Achilles, Hercules, Leonidas, Perseus, among others.
For instance, not one historian anywhere in the world would validate the accuracy, or associate any historic value, to the movie ‘300’ which depicts the heroism (or as some suggest, psychotic violent) acts of Leonidas of Sparta.
In fact, most historians believe this movie was based on a gross misrepresentation of known facts and regard the false depiction as harmful to historic accuracy of events for the sake of Hollywood box office success.
Even the producers claimed that all the evidence pointing to countless numbers of inaccuracies in the movie is irrelevant since their attempt was simply to make a cartoonish movie for entertainment rather than an actual historic epic.
Makes one wonder why people don't worship the truth which will result in Hollywood making nonsense lies to entertain us.
However, movie audiences enjoyed this fairy tale fictional Hollywood story about a group of 300 men that stood up to an army of (apparently) 1,000,000 battle-hardened warriors and died as a sign of their courage.
Historians accustomed to rationality and those that seek factual evidence based on reliable data were drastically disappointed. Leonidas was a warmongering parasite who wanted to fight a pointless battle that achieved nothing in real terms except to get his men killed, no matter what Hollywood bullcrap movie producers want to feed us to get us to pay the price of an admissions tickets.
But still some people accepted this epic as a real event in history, no matter how nonsense the inaccurate depiction.
Thankfully, modern heroes are not often based on juiced-up, spiced-up, grossly exaggerated and falsely depicted history driven by financial greed to create an artificial emotional roller coaster that rakes in the money by disingenuous storytellers.
As Hollywood fails to bring us real heroes because most filmmakers believe that the truth is not commercially viable and often non-entertaining, where do we turn to in order to find real modern day heroes that understand our challenges based on real circumstances of our era?
The answer is: Sports. At the very least, these heroes are REAL.
Sports has brought us many heroes and in every case, courageous, genuine, and on display in real time. And the audience simply adds the morale justice or injustice depending on which side they support.
These sports heroes are often simple ordinary persons in extraordinary circumstances, beyond their control. Despite all the obstacles stacked against them, they typically prevail in the end.
The greatest American Sports story is both heroic and the result of injustice in the face of great adversity. It has determination, glory, and heartbreak – a real roller coaster of emotion for any hero seeker that understands the plight of one man that found himself in a position of weakness but rose up to display almost a non-human level of courage that belongs to fictional myths of the ancient times.
This hero won “The Fight of the Century”, and fought with determination against odds insurmountable by any other and was regarded as the most famous, and the most notorious, African-American on Earth, for thirteen years.
His name: Arthur John Johnson, nickname “Galveston Giant”.
This patient boxer, known by many as simply Jack Johnson, was praised by the press as “the cleverest man in boxing”, whose unorthodox ed technique was simplicity itself: to wait patiently for his opponent to make a mistake and punishing him endlessly.
Having won at least 50 fights against both white and black opponents, Johnson won his first title in 1903, beating "Denver" Ed Martin over 20 rounds for the World Black Heavyweight Championship.
His efforts to win the full title were thwarted as world heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries (white) refused to face him since blacks could box whites in other arenas, but not for the world heavyweight championship, as blacks were not deemed worthy to compete at this level.
However, in order to pursue the title with his usual patience, he first fought the former champion Bob Fitzsimmons in 1907 and won after a second round knockout.
After fighting a series of other champions and winning convincingly, Johnson could no longer be ignored by Jeffries, who agreed to fight him.
But Jefferies was less interested in the spirit of the sport, or being the undisputed world champion, than he was on superiority of his race and said, "I am going into this fight with Johnson for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro”. Jefferies had never been knocked down, ever.
On 4th of July (on a truly befitting historic day), 1910 in front of more than 20,000 people (all white except Johnson), the two sportsmen fought at a ring built just for the occasion in this hotbed of racial tension as the ringside band played, "All coons look alike to me".
While the promoters incited the all-white crowd to chant "kill the nigger", Johnson proved stronger and cleverer than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down twice, his people called it quits to prevent Johnson from knocking him out.
The outcome of the fight triggered race riots that evening in twenty five states and 50 cities all across the United States. Johnson's victory over Jeffries was regarded by many whites as a humiliation. At least 23 blacks and 2 whites died in the riots, and hundreds more were injured. There were many occurrences of white crowds beatings of black men. Police interrupted many attempts of lynching.
Jack Johnson earned an army of enemies for simply being himself, a wonderful boxer and an independent man who happened to live in an intolerant time. Yet most of those that remembered him, spoke of his smiles and soft heart. He never spoke badly of his country, of his profession, or of his countrymen and women. He was a very accepting man of his circumstances.
But Johnson was not allowed to insult the white, win the prize that had always belonged to white people, and get away with his treacherous act of becoming the world undisputed heavy weight champion.
In 1920, Federal agents arrested Johnson for allegedly violating the Mann Act in 1913 against "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" He was sent to prison to serve his sentence of one year.
The U.S. Congress is now waiting to vote for a companion bill for a presidential pardon for Johnson’s conviction on trumped up charges of violating the Mann Act in 1913. Congress approved a resolution urging a presidential pardon for Johnson’s conviction on trumped up charges of violating the Mann Act in 1913, the late black heavyweight champion who was imprisoned because of his romantic ties with a white woman. This would right a legal and moral wrong. The Senate resolution was sponsored by Obama's 2008 GOP rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
While Hollywood filmmakers dressed-up Leonidas and his band of 300 suicidal thugs as entertaining and fake heroic figures of their imagination in order to charge $10 admissions tickets, we are all deprived of the real American heroes who have been ignored for a century.
Johnson was a true and glorious American Hero.