If and suppose, two small words, but nobody has ever been able to explain them. One man falls out of bed and is killed, another falls from a fifty foot scaffold and lives. One man gets shot in the leg and is killed, another gets a bullet in the brain and lives. I always take a chance on my pleasures.
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As the author of a biography about Canadian heavyweight champion Tommy Burns, I can tell you Unforgivable Blackness didn't tell the whole story by portraying Tommy as a racist who had to be badgered into fighting Jack Johnson. Until Tommy Burns came along, all the heavyweight kings had been white Americans who openly drew the so-called 'colour line,' refusing to fight blacks. Tommy, who fought seven African-American boxers on his way up, announced the day that he won the title that he would take on all comers, regardless of race or religion. Among other things, Tommy Burns did the following: * Break the colour line by becoming the first white champ to fight a black boxer (Jack Johnson). * Become the first champ to give a Jewish boxer (Joseph Smith) a crack at the title. * Married a black woman. * Hire two black sparring partners. * Befriend and socialize with black fighter Billy Woods. Tommy Burns was a racist by the standards of 2007, often using the 'n' word in interviews. But by the standards of his era, he was a very progressive individual. And although director Ken Burns doesn't acknowledge it in his otherwise very good film, if it wasn't for Tommy Burns, no one alive today would know or care who Jack Johnson was. Dan McCaffery, author, Tommy Burns: Canada's Unknown World Heavyweight Champion
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