On this day, December 26, 1908 Jack Johnson defeated Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, for the heavyweight Championship. Burns will later say of his loss, "Race prejudice was rampant in my mind. The idea of a black man challenging me was beyond enduring. Hatred made me tense."
Jack London, the famous novelist, was in Sydney covering the fight for the New York Herald. He wrote: "The fight? There was no fight. No Armenian massacre could compare with the hopeless slaughter that took place today. The fight, if fight it could be called, was like that between a pygmy and a colossus....But one thing now remains. Jim Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the golden smile from Jack Johnson’s face. Jeff, it’s up to you! The White Man must be rescued."
Over 20,000 people crammed into Sydney Stadium at Ruschcutters Bay and another 30,000 were estimated to be outside the stadium perched in trees, on roofs, up power poles and wherever they could gain a vantage point.
Johnson mocked Burns from the onset: "Poor little Tommy, who told you you were a fighter?" And on the rare occasion when Burns managed to land a punch, Johnson laughed and said, "Poor, poor, Tommy. Who taught you to hit? Your mother?" Although most of what he said was relatively banal, it was always accompanied by a sardonic smile.