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Jess Willard

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Jess Willard, born December 29, 1881 in St. Clere, Kansas on Pottawatamie Indian land in the United States - died December 15, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, was a world Heavyweight boxing champion.

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A working cowboy, he did not begin boxing until he was almost thirty years old. In an era when racism was part of the American vernacular, Willard was dubbed as The Great White Hope, a reference to the desire to see the then African-American champion defeated.

Despite his late start, Jess Willard proved successful as a boxer, defeating top-ranked opponents to earn a chance to fight for the championship. On April 5, 1915 in front of a huge crowd at the Vedado Racetrack in Havana, Cuba, in the 26th round he knocked out the black champion Jack Johnson to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship.

At 6' 7" (2.01 m), Jess Willard was the tallest heavyweight champion in boxing history. However, age caught up with him and the 37-year-old champion lost his title to Jack Dempsey on July 4, 1919 in Toledo, Ohio.

On his passing in 1968, Jess Willard was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

In 2003, he was inducted posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. There is a biography of him at [[1] (http://www.cyberboxingzone.com/boxing/jeswbio.htm)]


Preceded by:
Jack Johnson
Heavyweight boxing champion
1915–1919
Succeeded by:
Jack Dempsey

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