According to blackinventors, Jack Johnson is one of the most fascinating inventors of all time, not just for his invention but also for his celebrated and controversial life. Johnson, born John Arthur Johnson on March 31, 1878 in Galveston, Texas, spent much of his adolescence working on boats and along the city’s docks.
He began boxing in 1897 and immediately rose to prominence as a skilled and feared fighter. Johnson, who stood 6′ 1′′ and weighed 192 pounds, won the “World Colored Heavyweight Championship” on February 3, 1903 in Los Angeles, California, and went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship in 1908. He overcame Tommy Burns for the title, becoming the first Black man to hold the World Heavyweight Title, which did not endear him to white boxing fans.
Johnson was overconfident in his ability and easily defeated everyone he encountered. He also defied numerous societal “rules” of the time by openly dating White women. This landed him in hot water in 1912, when he was arrested for violating the Mann Act, a regulation that forbade Black males from traveling with white women.
He was charged with crossing state lines with his White lover, Lucille Cameron, for “immoral intentions.” Despite the fact that he and Lucille married later that year, he was convicted of the felony by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (who would eventually become the Commissioner of Major League Baseball) and sentenced to one year in Federal prison. He and Lucille fled to Europe before he could be imprisoned.
Johnson was eventually extradited to the United States and imprisoned at the Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas. Johnson discovered a need for a tool that could help tighten or loosen fastening devices while incarcerated. As a result, he created a tool and patented it as a wrench on April 18, 1922.