The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876–1937
Mark Allen Baker
For six decades the World Colored Heavyweight Championship was a useful tool of racial oppression—the existence of the title far more important to the white public than its succession of champions. It took some extraordinary individuals, most notably Jack Johnson, to challenge “the color line” in the ring, although the title and the black fighters who contended for it continued until the reign of Joe Louis a generation later. This history traces the advent and demise of the Championship, the stories of the 28 professional athletes who won it, and the demarcation of the color line both in and out of the ring.