Originally Posted by Mendoza
Using the the color line really meant three things if you ask me.
1 ) Starting with the obvious, the fighter was black.
2 ) He wasn't a big draw.
3 ) He had very good ability.
Louis fought two black men in his record 20+ title defense. The first was John Henry Lewis. John Henry was a friend of Joe Louis, and was ill. The fight was given to him because he needed the money. John Henry Louis was past his best when he fight happend.
The other fighter was Walcott, who at that time was something of a fringe contender ( non top ten ranked by ring magazine ) in the early 1940's...at least I think. I am too lazy to look it up right now.
Elmer Ray was close to getting a title shot, then Louis people saw him KO someone at Madison Square Garden in NY, and steered clear of the match.
In the context of using the color line, Louis like a few other champions is guilty. However, I do not think he avoided clear #1, #2, or #3 contenders as Jack Johnson did. Jack Johnson had big time offers to fight Joe Jeanette, Sam Langford and Sam McVey as champion but balked.
As a footnote I do believe if a champion is offered enough money, he'll fight anyone. But each champion has their own price.
Jim Jeffries would not defend against Jack Johnson for any price ,and he many times publicly stated so.
Sunny Jim Coffroth and Barney Curley the two biggest promoters in the US at the time , both stated that two blacks fighting for the heavyweight title would not draw flies.
The NSC in Covent Garden London, with Peggy Bettinson acting as their chairman/matchmaker offered Johnson just £3,000 to defend against Langford .
Langford fighting Jeannette in Paris , never made big money, his biggest career purse was for a bout with Iron Hague ,a mixed black and white match.
Johnson took out full page adverts in several major newspapers offering to defend against anyone ,for any promoter who could come up with a $30,000 purse. This is a matter of public record ,and easily checked and proved. Here is a link confirming Johnson signed to fight Jim Flynn for
$ 31,000 no one was interested in a mooted Johnson McVey fight.
This offer ,below made by C B Cochrane , for Johnson to defend against Langford in London fell through, it was £6.000 to the winner £2,000 the loser.It was made in 1914, six years after Burns received $,30,000
for defending against Johnson.
By the way Jim Jeffries offered the winner of the Burns/Johnson fight a title defence against the winner of the Al Kaufman v Jim Barry, Johnson said should he win , his first defence would be against Langford.
Joe Woodman could not come up with the $$ binding fee, and the offer from the NSC was derisory.
Johnson agreed to fight Langford in Paris after he beat Moran , the purse was for $30,000 the offer fell through.
Burns said ,if he beat Johnson he would fight whoever came up with the biggest purse.
If Jeffries thought a Johnson v Langford title fight would have made money, would he not have promoted that instead of offering a match with either Kaufman or Barry?
You will note that both Kaufman a Barry were white.
If Langford,Mcvey,and Jeannette were box office draws, how come they spent so much time globe trotting?
McVey had over 60 of his 90 fights outside his own country.
Langford around 60.
Jeannette nearly 30.
The £$£$£$ was in black /white defences when Johnson was champ.
Why the hell do you think the White Hope era started in the first place?
Do you think the White public wanted to replace Johnson with another black man?