Black in the Day…Momma Said Knock You Out
September 25, 1886:
On this day Peter “The Black Prince” Jackson from St. Croix (presently Virgin Islands) wins the Australian heavyweight title and becomes the first Black man to win a national boxing title.
The “Black Prince,” a heavyweight, was from the West Indies, and as a youngster moved to Australia. His boxing career began in 1882 in Melbourne, Australia, shortly after he used his fists to put down a shipboard mutiny. The incident was reported in the press and soon boxing promoters were after him. In 1886, Jackson won the Australian heavyweight title by knocking out Tom Leeds in the 30th round. As a victim of racial discrimination, he was denied a chance to fight for the world heavyweight championship while in his prime. He found it difficult to get opponents in Australia, so he moved to the United States in 1888 and fought his way across the country.
Jackson gained some fame during his stay in America. He stated his desire to play Othello, but it never came to fruition. However, he starred in a touring production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Despite his celebrity, Jackson would run into financial troubles following his retirement from the ring. Jackson’s health rapidly decayed following his bout against James Jeffries, making it impossible for him to box. Several benefits were held in order to send him back to Australia.
Jackson died of tuberculosis in Roma, Queensland and was buried at Toowong Cemetery. A short time after becoming the first black heavyweight champion of the world in 1908, “The Galveston Giant” Jack Johnson, made a pilgrimage to Jackson’s grave, a measure of the respect in which the man was held not only in Queensland, but in the boxing community worldwide. Jackson’s tomb is emblazoned with the words “This was a man”.