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Combat Sports
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At the end of the 19th century, boxing, like many other sports, was racially segregated, and members of Canada’s black community, who were mostly at the bottom of the social scale, were the victims of various forms of discrimination. In this context, the achievements of George DIXON, a contemporary of George GODFREY, both black boxers from the poor urban areas of the Maritimes, represented significant breakthroughs for Canadian sports and black athletes:

“The victory over [Nunc] Wallace gave Dixon a strong claim to the world bantamweight title, but he believed that before he could be recognized as champion he had to defeat three boxers with chances as good as his. In October 1890 he beat the first, Johnny Murphy, the Rhode Island featherweight champion, in a bout which lasted 40 rounds. In the 40th round, an account noted, Murphy’s body ‘looked as though it had been flayed.’ Dixon had barely a scratch. Dixon met [Cal] McCarthy again on 31 March 1891 for a purse of $4,000, and in the 22nd round McCarthy gave in, after having been knocked down several times. And then in San Francisco on 28 July Dixon knocked out Abe Willis, the Australian bantamweight champion, in five rounds, to become world bantamweight champion, the first black and the first Canadian to win a world boxing title.”

 

The biographies grouped below provide additional information about four combat sports, their participants, supporters, and spectators:

 

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