Those looking for a sports documentary will be keenly disappointed. By relying on a ridiculously small number of commentators and sources, Ken Burns has put together a four hour indictment of white America for its past racism and intolerance. The sources not only are limited in number but only one of them--he late Burt Sugar--could claim real familiarity with boxing. And never was there anyone so in love with sound of his own voice. The man simply cannot shut up.
The rest all are far-left hacks like Village Voice journalist Jack Newfield or like Stanley Crouch racial militants with nothing relevant to contribute but with a heavy political agenda leading to some very warped judgments about the era in which Jack Johnson lived and the man himself.
While Jack Johnson was a great heavyweight, a real genius inside the ring, outside of it he was in no way the icon of racial struggle he is portrayed as here. Any comparisons to Muhammad Ali are far off base.
Mike Tyson is the closest parallel with, below the waist, some Tiger Woods into the bargain, and while professional boxing recovered from Jack Johnson with great sportsmen like Gene Tunney and Joe Louis to later hold the title, Tyson has left such a bad smell that the prize ring probably will never recover its former luster.
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