Lee Groves

10: Presidential-boxer pairings

1. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)/Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) and Jack Johnson (1897-1928, 78-8-12 with 45 knockouts and 14 no-decisions)

Of all the presidential/boxer pairings, this is the greatest fit. Like James Buchanan, both Andrew and Lyndon Johnson’s administrations were steeped in strife and both were elevated following assassinations. Andrew, who succeeded Lincoln, was the first president to be impeached because of his repeated removals of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, which opponents saw as a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. Although a majority of senators convicted Johnson in the subsequent trial, the 35-19 vote failed to achieve the needed two-thirds threshold.

LBJ ascended to the presidency after JFK’s death and the impact of his “Great Society” program and “War on Poverty” is still being felt four decades later. He further stirred the pot by increasing U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the backlash was such that he declined to run for a second full term.


Like the two presidential Johnsons, Jack Johnson was the most polarizing heavyweight champion ever. His seven-year reign was a march of defiance, from the golden-toothed smile he flashed at taunting ringsiders to his three interracial marriages to his domination over a succession of “white hopes.” He was forced to spend years outside the U.S. to avoid jail time for a Mann Act conviction (which he eventually served several years after losing the title to Jess Willard).

But for all the chaos in his life he was a master craftsman who used a suffocating defense to neutralize opponents and slashing powerful blows end matters at the moment of his choosing. He continued to box off and on until age 67 and it is a tribute to his greatness that he remains a firm top-10 all-time heavyweight champion more than a century after his reign began.

Honorable mentions: Marvin Johnson, Glen Johnson, Harold Johnson, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson, Reggie Johnson, John Michael Johnson, Dujuan Johnson, Kirk Johnson and Arthur Johnson.



Graphic / Photo.com

(Thanks to Lauren Himiak of About.com for background information on the history of President’s Day and various web sites for specifics on the presidents.)

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