George Dixon was born in Africville, Nova Scotia on July 29, 1870.
He was the first Black world champion in boxing history and the first Canadian to win a world championship.
Dixon also became a world champion in boxing, not once but twice.
As a boy, Dixon was apprenticed to a photographer who took photos of boxers.
He took a liking to the sport and fought his right in 1886. He won in a knockout.
He moved to Boston shortly afterwards and won twice in 1887.
In 1888, he won 11 fights, winning five and drawing six.
In February 1890, Dixon fought a 70-round bout against Cal McCarthy that took four hours and 37 minutes to complete and ended in a draw.
He also beat Boston’s Johnny Murphy in a 40-round bantamweight fight, the world’s longest bantamweight match.
Over his 20-year career, Dixon fought an estimated 800 fights. In his roughly 150 recorded matches, he recorded 38 knockouts.
It is also recorded that during his professional boxing career, he won 86 fights, with 38 draws, 21 losses and 13 no decisions.
Dixon was bantamweight champion in 1890 and featherweight champion in 1891-96, 1897, and 1898-1900.
He was small in stature, standing at five feet, 3.5 inches tall, and between 87 and 115 pounds, but he was a very cerebral and skilled boxer.
Dixon is considered the “pioneer of scientific boxing,” and he developed many training techniques still in use today.
In 1893, Dixon published A Lesson on Boxing, in which he outlined in detail his boxing strategies and punching philosophy.
Those techniques include throwing practice punches with hand weights, using a speed bag attached to the floor to improve his footwork; and hitting a heavy bag.
Dixon also developed what is today known as “shadowboxing.”
Dixon used his popularity as an athlete to champion Black civil rights. He asked boxing promoters to reserve seats for Black fans who wanted to attend his fights.
Dixon retired as a bantamweight in 1892 without being beaten as champion.
He retired in 1906 after losing a 15-round featherweight contest.
Dixon died on Jan. 6, 1909 in New York City. He is buried in Boston.
Dixon was an inaugural inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
He was also named to The Ring Magazine Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
SOURCES: BIOGRAPHI.CA, HISTORICNOVASCOTIA.CA, IBHOF.COM, NSSHF.COM, THECANADIANENCYCLOPEDIA.CA