On this day in auto history – June 10th

Thu 10th Jun 2021

It was on this day in 1946 that legendary boxer Jack Johnson - the first black heavyweight champion - was killed in a car crash in North Carolina.

Nicknamed the 'Galveston Giant’, Johnson held the most prestigious title in sport between 1908 and 1915 but had since earned notoriety amongst the white population for not accepting the normal “place” of blacks in American society of the age.

Having been sentenced to a year in prison by an all-white jury on a trumped-up charge of “transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes”, Johnson skipped bail and lived in exile for the next seven years in Europe, South America and Mexico.

He served his sentence when eventually returning to the USA in 1920 but the racially-motivated injustice of America's black population continued to frustrate him for the remainder of his life and his fatal smash occurred after he reportedly raced away angrily from a diner which refused to serve him on colour grounds. He was 68 at the time of his death.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump granted Johnson an official posthumous pardon for his prison sentence.