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When Langford whipped (?) Jack Johnson

Posted on 04/15/2008

By Don Buchan

In the middle forties when I knew Jack Johnson, we had a bit of fun. I used to rib him a little and once I told him I understood Sam Langford beat him.

Jack went to his leather bag and pulled out a typewritten story which he said – and I did not and do not doubt – is the true account of his fight with Langford in Chelsea, Mass. on April 26, 1906. This was not the original newspaper tear sheet, and if it is a fake, someone in Boston who can examine the old files of newspapers will no doubt correct the story.

But, here it is. I offer it in good faith, believing it is a true account.


Boston Post – April 27, 1906 – Chelsea, Mass.


In one of the most one-sided bouts ever seen in Chelsea, Jack Johnson of California won the decision over Sam Langford of Cambridge after 15 rounds at the Lincoln Athletic Club last night.

In the sixth round Johnson put Langford to the mat for the count twice, the first time with a right uppercut to the chin. Both times Langford struggled to his feet at the count of nine and stalled to the end of the round.

After the sixth it ceased to be a contest, Langford nearly stalling it out, clinching and holding on at every opportunity. The bout settled down to a question of how long Langford could stay. He let Johnson do all the forcing, countering with a straight left occasionally, then closing in and hanging on.

The feature of the bout was the extraordinary defensive work of Langford and his remarkable ability to take punishment. It was a wonder that he could stand the beating that Johnson handed him.

He was game to the core, and won the cheers of the crowd by his courage and cleverness. But when that is said, nothing more in praise of the bout could be added.

It was too one-sided to be interesting. Johnson out-weighed Langford by fully 30 lbs., and was a head taller, with six inches more reach.

Johnson didn’t try very hard. His superiority was evident from the outset and he didn’t have to. In the first three rounds Langford, by his cleverness, held his own.

Johnson had a slight advantage in the first; the second was even, and in the third, fourth and fifth Johnson increased his lead slightly.

Then came the sixth and it did not seem possible that Langford could last the round out. But he did, and after it was only a question of how much more punishment he could stand.

There were times when Johnson looked tired, but it was from his own exertions.

He left the ring without a mark, while Langford’s face showed that he had been through the wars. Maffitt Flaherty refereed.


Now if this isn’t the true account, I spent a lot of time in our dusty, cold attic for a hoax.

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