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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, April 07, 1915, NOON EDITION, Image 10

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-04-07/ed-1/seq-10/

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LIFE 0F JOHNSON'S WHITE 'WIFE' WRECKED
WHEN WILLARD SMASHED NEGRO'S JAW
BY CECELIA WRIGHT KEITH
Havana, April 7. When a woman
witnesses the greatest disaster that
can be the, fal o-a man who for
years was a leader in his-profession
her thoughts naturally go to the
woman most vitally interested.
So when Jack Johnson entered the
ring at Miramar Monday, confident
and assertive, I turned to the ring
side boxes and saw the white girl
who had bound up her life with that
of the black exiled by her own fam
ily, by her friends and. by her coun
try. She is a pretty girl, perhaps a lit
tle swagger because of the boule
vards of Paris and the avenues of
Buenos Aires, but nevertheless she is
a woman with the feelings of a woin
an. And in her life's crisis her own
sex must reach out the hand of un
derstanding to her.
I hold no brief for her actions in
the past I am only telling of her
looks as her partner in life went into
the conflict that was to change him
from champion of the world to one of
the heroes of the past.
Every turn in tie, battle was fol
lowed by this 22-year-old girl from
the west. She wore the)same smile
that spread over the face of Johnson.
Both took the battle as a jest. To
them it was only another misguided
white man added to the ring record
of Jack.
Then, as the rounds wore on, every
trick in the amazing category of the
world's champion was tried, but in
vain. From the smile of confidence
to the strained look of worry was the
transition of only a. moment. At last
the ebony face of Johnson began to
show that he realized the battle in
front of him was the acme of his
career.
i The face of his white wife reflected
the feelings of the black fighter. In
the early stages, when Johnson's con
fident smile presaged certain victory,
she, too, smiled with him. Then,
when the battle went past the fif
teenth round and Willard still was
baffling the champion, Johnson's
smile changed to seriousness and
with the look came the strange re
flection 6f awe into the now pale face
of the girl in the ringside box.
When she was the wife of Jack
Johnson, champion, she was the cen
ter of attraction. As the wife of
plain Jack Johnson, dethroned negro
fighter, she would be an outcast and
the subject of ostracism. These
thoughts, I know; ran through her
mind as round by round Willard prov
ed Johnson was not the Johnson of
Reno days.
Then came the twentieth round.
Into the eyes' of Johnson there crept
the look which shows when a man is
in the last ditch before the firing
squad. Jack Johnson, master of ring
craft, conqueror of Jeffries, knew his
Waterloo was approaching. He was
battling against his master and
thinking now only of the miserable
white girl who had left her own race
to cast her lot with the glamour of
his life. He sent for Promoter Cur
ley. Curley arrived at the end of the
twenty-second round. Johnson
leaned from his corner and whis
pered: "Take my wife to the gate, Jack;
I'm going fast and It don't want her
to see the finish if I am to be knock
ed out."
When all that is said against John
son is totalled in the ledger of life,
I want to place to his credit that one
act. In the dizzy avalanche of blows
showered upon him by Willard his
real thoughts were for his wife, and
as Curley led her, downcast, discour
aged and tearful, from the arena she
knew the doom of her pitiful romance
and sodden life had been sealed.
The end of time, for her, had
arrived. .
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