James Earl Jones portrayed world heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson, whose power and persona took White America by surprise in the early 1900s. Johnson presented a double threat to the status quo; he violated laws that forbade him White female companionship, and, literally, no one could whip his Black ass.
The “Great White Hope” made its film debut in 1970, following its success on Broadway. Here’s how a film critic described the plot: “A Black champion boxer and his White female companion struggle to survive while the White boxing establishment looks for ways to knock him down.”
The “establishment” marshaled a search party to promote what was to have been the “Fight of the Century.” In 1910, former undefeated heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries was lured out of retirement.
“I feel obligated to the sporting public at least to make an effort to reclaim the heavyweight championship for the White race and demonstrate that a White man is king of them all” said Jeffries.
Jeffries may have been the Great White Hope a century ago, but his replacement, Donald Trump, has amassed a far better record. After he knocked out 17 wannabes in the Republican presidential primary, he scored a TKO over the first woman to seriously approach the ring.
Hillary Clinton fought her way up to the championship bout. She won more than enough votes to be elected, but as is characteristic in the fight business, she lost on a technicality. The founding fathers created the electoral system to favor rich White males.
This newest champ is a bit pudgy and a tad old to be in the ring, but he is as crafty as they come. He uses all the dirty tricks of boxing to his advantage and he concocts political poisons that lay bare every weakness of his opponents.
Donald “Agent Orange” Trump hits his foes below the belt, even when the referee is watching. He has a mean head fake. You can think you caught him in any of the hundreds of lies he spews weekly and he will manufacture a new tragedy to make you forgot the most recent misdeed.
Agent Orange is no stranger to hanging onto the ropes, rabbit punching, head-butting or any other sudden or seditious movements.
He uses his elbows to throw blows and his thumbs to violate the rules pugilists pledge to obey.
Donald Trump is the dirtiest fighter ever known to the game. He’s a heavyweight who specializes in arranging bouts in the bantamweight, flyweight and middleweight categories. Agent Orange even hits girls. Jack Johnson had a thing for White women, but Donald Trump respects no woman.
The darker they get, the worse they get treated. He delivers low blows to the boxing cups of the guys and grabs the girls by their G-strings. Trump is an expert in the UFC and WWE methods and brings those foreign rules into the four corners and turnbuckles of the boxing ring.
When it comes to prefight hype, he makes Muhammad Ali look like an amateur.
Agent Orange picks an opponent, makes them public enemy number one and then spreads lies that make his fans run to his rallies, foaming at the mouth.
Trump is always a sore winner because victimization is the game he excels in. One day though, Donald “Agent Orange” Trump, like all fighters, is going to hit the canvas. The crowds will turn on him, and the debt he owes to Queen Karma will have to be settled. Be leery, because that day is coming soon. Trump can’t be content winning, so who knows how unhinged he’ll be when fatigue and frustration take him to the mat.
Jack Johnson finally lost to the only unbeatable force in the United States of America: racism. Oddly, racism will turn on Trump and consume him as well. It was “mighty White” of Donald to pardon Jack Johnson; the question is, who will pardon this Great White Hope?
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist and award-winning journalist.