Jack Johnson stood on a pedestal behind Old Central Cultural Center, ready to throw a left hook and then come back with a right. On the grounds surrounding the life-size, bronze statue of the first black heavyweight boxing champion workers dug trenches in preparation for the opening of what will be Jack Johnson Park, Galveston’s latest effort to reclaim its most famous son since turning its back on him a century ago.
The workers were asked if they are fans of Johnson.
“No,” one man said flatly.
“I hadn’t even heard of him until this project,” another man said.
This lack of awareness is no surprise in this island community. It has long wrestled with its relationship to the dockworker-turned-fighter who grew up at 8th and Broadway and went