Jack Johnson (1878-1946) became the first black world heavyweight boxing champion in 1908. On July 4, 1910, former champion Jim Jeffries (1875-1953) un-retired to fight Johnson. Jeffires was called a “white hope” by June 1910—the hope of the white race to regain the boxing title—but Johnson defeated Jeffries in 15 rounds. The 1967 play and 1970 film, The Great White Hope, was based on this famous boxing match.
A “Great Right Hope” is a hope of the political right (Republicans and Conservatives). California Congressman Bob Dornan was called a “Great Right Hope” in 1979. In November 2010, the New York (NY) Times wrote a story about newly elected U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, titled “In Rubio, Some See Rise of the ‘Great Right Hope.’” The term “Great Right Hope” had some added significance to the older “Great White Hope” term since Barack Obama, a Democrat, became the first black U.S. president in 2008.
Wikipedia: Jack Johnson (boxer)
John Arthur ("Jack") Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the “Galveston Giant”, was an American boxer, the second African American Boxing Champion, and the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915).
After Johnson’s victory over Burns, racial animosity among whites ran so deep that Jack London called out for a “Great White Hope” to take the title away from Johnson. As title holder, Johnson thus had to face a series of fighters billed by boxing promoters as “great white hopes”, often in exhibition matches.
Wikipedia: James J. Jeffries
James Jackson Jeffries (April 15, 1875 – March 3, 1953) was a world heavyweight boxing champion.
Six years after retiring, Jeffries made a comeback on July 4, 1910 at Reno, Nevada. He fought champion Jack Johnson, who had staked his claim to the heavyweight championship by defeating Tommy Burns at Rushcutters Bay in Australia in 1908.
The fight, which was promoted and refereed by legendary fight promoter Tex Rickard, and became known as “The Fight of the Century”, soon became a symbolic battleground of the races. The media, eager for a “Great White Hope”, found a champion for their racism in Jeffries. He said: “I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of winning the title for whites.”
Jack Johnson won however by vicious TKO after the 15th round when Jeffries’ corner threw in the towel. Jeffries made no excuses for his humiliating defeat.
Wikipedia: The Great White Hope
The Great White Hope is a 1967 play written by Howard Sackler, later adapted in 1970 for a film of the same name. The play was first produced by Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and debuted on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on October 3, 1968 for a run of 546 performances, directed by Edwin Sherin with James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander in the lead roles. In 1969, Jones won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play and Alexander won Best Actress in a Play for their respective portrayals of Jack Jefferson and Eleanor Bachman in the Broadway production.
The Great White Hope tells a fictional idealized life story of boxing champion Jack Johnson, here called Jack Jefferson. Acting as a lens focused on a racist society, The Great White Hope explores how segregation and prejudice created the demand for a “great white hope” who would defeat Johnson and how this, in turn, affected the boxer’s life and career.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
white hope, orig., a white boxer who might beat Jack Johnson, the first Black to be world heavyweight champion (1908-15); hence, a person who, or a thing which, it is hoped will achieve much or on whom or which hopes are centred
1911 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 28 Apr. 11/4 A New York promoter has succeeded in arranging for a match between Albert Palzer, New York’s most prominent *white hope, and Carl Morris, the giant locomotive engineer.
1912 I. S. COBB Back Home 233 Judge Priest was a celebrity, holding the limelight to the virtual exclusion of grand opera stars, favourite sons, white hopes, [and] debutantes.
27 June 1910, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 1:
JEFFRIES PUT ON SPEED.
Eleven Fast Rounds Indulged in by the White Hope
RENO, NEV., June 27.—The last week of preparation for the Fourth of July struggle for supremacy between Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson opened in Reno without any of the excitement which marked its immediate predecessors.
Google News Archive
3 August 1910, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, pg. 4, col. 6:
NEW WHITE HOPE
Jim Corbett Says He Has a Man
Who Will Whip Johnson.
18 December 1910, Anaconda (MT) Standard, pt. 3, pg. 1:
For a month or two following Johnson’s victory over Jeffries young fellows sprung up all over the country and the newspapers were filled with challenges from newly-laid “white hopes,” but in most instances these were simply advertising dodges.
15 July 1979, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Dornan: A Conservative Hero or Right-Wing Zealot?” by Victor Merina, pg. CS1:
The Great Right Hope. A conservative hero and a right-wing zealot. One Republican admirer in Congress refers to him as the Patrick Henry of the House.
(Congressman Bob Dornan—ed.)
7 April 1991, Providence (RI) Journal, pg. E1:
The Great Right Hope
Liberals beware when Rush Limbaugh’s on the air
By John Martin
March 28, 2007
Searching for the great right hope
By Michael M. Bates
Conservatives, long the backbone of the Republican Party, are dissatisfied. For many, the current crop of GOP presidential candidates is about as exciting as a Barry Manilow concert.
New York (NY) Times
In Rubio, Some See Rise of the ‘Great Right Hope’
By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: November 3, 2010
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — For many Tea Party conservatives, Hispanics, and young Americans frustrated with the national debt that baby boomers have saddled on their future, Marco Rubio’s victory in the Florida Senate race gave them an extra reason to celebrate.
With turbocharged help from the Tea Party, he has gone from a no-name former state lawmaker to what the conservative press calls the “great right hope.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, November 04, 2010 • Permalink