George Dixon (1870-1908)

Better Than All the Rest

George Dixon, from Africville, was the first person of African descent in North America to win a world boxing championship.

Born in Africville, George Dixon (1870-1908) accomplished something no person of African descent – anywhere in North America – had ever done. Dixon became a world champion in boxing, not once but twice.

George turned to boxing when he was young, weighing a mere 39 kg (87 lbs) and standing only 1.6 m (5 ft 3 1/2 in). In the ring, however, he was a force. Wanting to use his talent at the highest level, George moved to Boston where boxing promoters called him "Little Chocolate."

From the 1880s to the early 1900s, George Dixon fought over 163 fights in three weight classes. In 1888, he did what no Black person had to that point accomplished: he won a boxing world championship, as a bantamweight. In 1891, a little heavier, he became the world featherweight champion. He reigned for over four years, successfully defending the title three times.

Time, of course, marches on. When George Dixon had to stop boxing he and his wife and family fell on hard times. The boxing community in New York City held a charity event to pay his hospital bills and to bury the former world champion in Boston.

Today, in his home city, there is a recreation centre named after the man who was both the first Black and the first Canadian-born world boxing champion. Along the way, he is said to have invented shadowboxing as a training technique. One American authority calls George Dixon the greatest featherweight boxer of all-time.



George Dixon Centre, 2502 Brunswick Street, Halifax