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The story of Len Johnson, a middleweight boxing champion who was never granted the title he deserved due to the white establishment. Despite beating almost every boxer he faced, including the legendary Ted Lewis, the British Boxing Board of Control imposed a ‘colour bar’ that meant both contestants had to be “born of white parents” in a title fight. So he was never awarded a title. In frustration Len retired from boxing and decided to bring his fight against the colour bar to a new arena. After being denied a drink at a local pub for being black he organised a big protest to have the ban lifted. His success inspired others and led to the drive to end the so-called ‘colour bar’. Len’s story is one of a denied legacy, but he will always be the champ to us!

CPB Greater Manchester Branch talk to activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Manchester, Deej Malik Johnson about the life, activism and legacy of Len Johnson. Len Johnson was a highly skilled boxer in the 20s and 30s, however his achievements were overlooked because boxing regulations at the time included the infamous Rule 24, which stated that title contestants “…must have two white parents. But his boxing career is just part of the story, and he went on to become a respected community leader, co-founder of the New International Society in Manchester and stood for council six times in Moss Side as a communist candidate. Please sign the petition for a monument to Len Johnson in Manchester: https://www.change.org/lenjohnson The Working Class Movement Library has archives on Len Johnson, the New International Society and Pan-African Congress.
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