In the Museum’s collection, a wonderful slice of Galveston history and source of pride: trading cards featuring Jack Johnson.
Jack Johnson, 1898 – 1946, was called “the greatest” by Muhammed Ali. He was the “Galveston Giant.” He was the first African-American World Heavy-weight Boxing Champion, defending his title from 1908 – 1915.
The origins of boxing cards predate the turn of the last century. Allen & Ginter was a Richmond, Virginia, tobacco manufacturing firm formed by John Allen and Lewis Ginter in 1875. In 1887, the company created the first cigarette cards for collecting and trading. Ogden’s Tobacco Company grew from the small shop in Liverpool opened by Thomas Ogden in 1860 to six factories in 1890. In 1894 Ogden’s released their first series of cigarette cards.
Jack Johnson was indisputably one of the greatest boxers of all time. The fact that he fought, not only opponents in the ring, but also the wall of prejudice the American Jim Crow era threw at him, makes him an enduring symbol of perseverance and courage.