World History 1908

About the history of the world in 1908, the first Model T Ford produced, the first horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jack Johnson becomes the Heavyweight Boxing Champion.



* The first Model T Fords rolled off the line in Detroit.

* William C. Durant, 47, merged his Buick Motor Company with lesser auto firms to form General Motors. With the subsequent acquisition of Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Oakland (later called Pontiac), Chevrolet, and others, Durant soon rivaled Henry Ford as America's auto king.

* Fountain pens, first invented for practical use by Lewis Edson Waterman in New York City in 1884, began to catch on with the public.

* The first horror film, a one-reel version of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was released.

* American dancer Isadora Duncan, 30, grew in popularity. Her unorthodox choreography, which rebelled against traditional ballet, was performed barefoot in flowing garments to classical music never intended for dance.

* King Leopold II of Belgium relinquished personal control of the Congo to Belgium following world protest over his ruthless use of slave labor in that colony to amass a personal fortune.

Dec. 26 Jack Johnson, 30, defeated heavyweight champion Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. The first black to hold the heavyweight title, Johnson, a former stevedore from Galveston, Tex., at 6 ft. towered over the 5 ft. 7 in. Burns and outclassed him in most of the statistics, although the stocky Burns had a larger chest than Johnson's and even outreached him by 1/2 in. Johnson had little trouble with the champ and put him away in the 14th round. Becoming the heavyweight champion was no mean trick for Johnson, who had to expend as much effort trying to break boxing's color line as he did training for his bouts. It had taken two full years to convince Burns to give him a shot at the title--a decision which Burns no doubt later regretted. Stunned by the sudden black takeover, boxing's white fans began the search for "the great white hope." Promoters coaxed ex-champ James Jeffries out of retirement to take on the Galveston Giant in Reno, Nev., in 1910. But even Jeffries, who had quit the ring undefeated just five years before, fell in the 15th round under Johnson's two-fisted power. Two years later Johnson stood convicted on Mann Act charges (transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes), skipped bond, and fled to Europe. His well-publicized loose living did his public image little good, and his marriage to a white woman only intensified the hunt for a prime white contender. The search ended with Jess Willard, a plodding 6 ft. 6 in. fighter with little grounding in scientific boxing. The title fight took place in 1915 at Havana, Cuba, and although Johnson carried the early rounds, Willard knocked him out in the 26th. Johnson later claimed that he threw the fight, but this has never been proved. He returned to the U.S. to serve his one-year sentence for the Mann Act conviction and then resumed his professional career. Growing too old to be considered a major contender, he drifted into vaudeville and carnivals, and died in an auto accident in 1946. Today Johnson is considered the craftiest heavyweight fighter, with the best uppercut, the best defense, and the most effective counterpunches of all time. He also ranks among the best all-around boxers in the top weight class and was the first to develop the art of feinting as a major boxing tool. His 10 1/2-in. wrists were larger than any other heavyweight's before or since.

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