Manuscripts, oral history and pictures catalogue
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  • Title
    The Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns fight, 1908 / by Norman Lindsay
  • Creator
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  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    1 drawing - 38 x 26 cm - watercolour and pencil on paper

    On 26 December 1908, a record crowd of over 60,000 gathered at the newly opened Sydney stadium at Rushcutters Bay to watch the boxing match between African American, Jack Johnson, and and French Canadian, Tommy Burns. The fight made history in sport and in global race relations. While black competitors were recognised in boxing, they were barred from participating in the heavyweight championship of the world.
    In 1908 Burns was heavyweight champion of the world but he had never competed against Johnson. Australian promoter Hugh MacIntosh convinced Burns to fight Johnson in Sydney. MacIntosh was referee for the match.
    In Sydney Burns trained at his base in Darling Point, and Johnson in Manly. Johnson dominated what was intended to be a 20 round fight but was stopped by police in the 14th round because of the beating Burns received.
    Johnson, the only African American permitted to fight for the heavyweight world title, had won a resounding victory, for himself and black sportpeople. His victory inspired as many as it angered. Johnson remained world champion until 1916.
    Norman Lindsay was persuaded by his friend Hugh MacIntosh to produce this promotional watercolour for the front cover of The Lone Hand magazine which portrays Johnson's physical dominance over the smaller Burns.
    Lindsay later roughed out the date on the watercolour and inscribed it to his friend MacIntosh.

    Heritage Gallery Guide, State Library of NSW, 2008, p. 24
  • Source
    Purchased from Deutscher and Hackett, 26 November 2008, Lot 16
  • Collection History
    Hugh MacIntosh, Sydney; thence to private collection, Canberra until 1978; thence to private collection, Sydney; Trevor Bussell Fine Art Gallery, Sydney; thence to private collection, Sydney.
  • Copying Conditions
    Copyright status:: In copyright - Life of artist plus 70 years
    Copyright holder:: H, C, and A Glad
    Approval for reproduction required:
    Please acknowledge: : Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Courtesy H, C, & A. Glad
  • General note

    The Library holds a pen and ink drawing of Jack Johnson, probably drawn for The Bulletin, of Johnson being driven in a car past a group of three Aborigines on the side of the road
    Digital order no:a1528552
  • Signatures / Inscriptions

    Signed and inscribed, lower left: `To Hugh D. Macintosh with kind regards N.L.'
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