The amount of adversity that Jack Johnson had to overcome in order to break heavyweight boxing's color barrier and become the first African-American world heavyweight champion was, putting it very lightly, immense.
The Galveston Giant was a controversial figure in his era—when the Civil War was still a recent memory and blacks were still largely without rights in the United States—who lived a very flashy lifestyle and sought to buck convention whenever he could.
When James J. Jeffries won the heavyweight crown around the turn of the century, virtually everyone considered Johnson to be his most dangerous threat.
But Jeffries refused to face Johnson in the ring. It wasn't that black and white boxers couldn't fight, but the heavyweight championship was an exclusively white championship at the time. Shortly after Jeffries retired, Canadian boxer Tommy Burns captured the world championship.
Burns made the title a truly world championship, skipping from continent to continent and seeking out the best fighters he could find.
After two years of Johnson basically stalking him around the globe and calling him out, Burns finally agreed to give him a world championship opportunity in Sydney, Australia.
During the fight—and as was his custom—Johnson trash talked his opponent. Nothing particularly vile or nasty like we've often seen today, but given the culture of the time, risky nonetheless.
"Poor little Tommy, who told you you were a fighter," Johnson told his foe, per Nigel Collins of ESPN.com. He would also frequently meet him with mock praise each time he landed a punch.
"Poor, poor, Tommy. Who taught you to hit? Your mother?"
Sure, mild by today's standards. But context is everything, and Johnson was a trailblazer in the world of boxing and trash talking.