On May 14, 1913, Jack Johnson was convicted in Chicago, IL of violating the White Slave Traffic Act. This was in relation to his marriage to a white woman. He fled the US in June. He settled in France, but was stripped of his heavyweight title by the French Federation of Boxing Clubs. While awaiting reinstatement, to make a living and to stay in shape, Johnson accepted matches with several wrestlers.
He debuted on Nov. 26, 1913, meeting a German, who is remembered only as Urbach by the American media:
Paris, Nov. 26, 1913- Jack Johnson, the American negro champion, heavyweight pugilist of the world, whom the French Boxing Commission demoted, was again in popular favor with Parisians because of his conduct in a wrestling bout at the Nouveau Cirque with the German, Urbach, which ended in a riot.
Johnson made his debut as a wrestler by meeting the German, who is vastly unpopular because of his unfair methods. It was a, catch-as-catch-can affair, and the negro threw the Teuton twice. After the second fall, Urbach struck Johnson in the face. The big negro only laughed, and did not retaliate. The crowd surged about the ring, threatening Urbach, and he ran away. After a riot lasting an hour the police cleared the house. Several arrests were made.
On Nov. 28, he wrestled Andre Spoul at the Nouveau Cirque:
PARIS, Nov. 29.- Jack Johnson, the negro pugilist, while wrestling with Spoul, a Siberian, was incensed when the latter dug his fingers into Johnson's eyes and ears and kicked him. Johnson warned the Siberian that if he continued he would knock him out. Spoul did not take the warnings whereupon the negro knocked him out with two blows to the stomach. Excelsior protests against these wrestling bouts as unsportsmanlike and appeals to the police to stop them.
On Dec. 16, Johnson met Jemmy Esson in Paris:
Jack Johnson's wrestling aspiration received a bad setback Tuesday when he attempted to throw a second rate Scottish grappler, Jimmy Esson, in Paris: The bout took-place at a cheap music hall whose patrons were not at all polite to the negro pugilist. Johnson was thrown and his shoulders pinned to the mat shortly after the go started. Bouquets consisting of tomatoes, eggs and other fruit were freely cast his way as he arose after his defeat.
Johnsonís wrestling career continued into 1914. He arranged to travel to Sweden where he participated in at least two matches against and unnamed opponent and someone identified as Taumisto. But, his wrestling career apparently ended there as the Swedes ushered him out of the country controversially:
OUT OF SWEDEN
STOCKHOLM. March 12, 1914- Jack Johnson, the American negro pugilist, who was to have engaged in wrestling matches with Jess Pedersen and others in Gothenberg has been forced to leave Sweden owing to the hostile demonstrations against him.
Johnson would continue his boxing career in 1914, but his venture into the wrestling world fascinated the sports world and brought to the forefront serious consideration of the boxer vs. the wrestler.
All sorts of rumors come from Paris regarding Jack Johnson. It can be stated positively, however, that Johnson is not so near on the hog as has been intimated. Only recently he made $2,400 for ten day's work at the Folies Bergere and there are other places in France and Germany, that his popularity will help to make big money for a long time to come. It is not believed however that Jack is anxious to land any matches, for he is getting lazy and disdains to get down to hard training.
The interest in the fighter and the fighting game all over the world amounts almost to a mania. And, as a matter of fact, this condition is nothing short of a mystery. The average fighter and his camp followers are a bunch of plug-uglies, the whole outfit being so greedy that the promoters or the public are skinned in almost every fray.
The fighter's game is misnamed the "manly art of self-defense." It is nothing of the sort. If physical superiority were involved- the ability to cut loose and whip the other fellow when necessity demands- the prize fighter would be only the veriest novice in the hands of the average exponent of the wrestling game. Pit Jack Johnson or any of the se so-called white hope bruisers against any one of fifty of the
American catch-as-catch-can wrestlers, lock the pair in a room where none could interfere, and in less time than it takes, to tell it the grappler would have the bruiser begging for mercy, perhaps with an arm or two torn loose in order that the wrestler might make sure that the fighter understood that he had been up against the real thing.
The spectacle would not be edifying and few would care to see it, but facts are facts and, in a rough-and-tumble contest, the grappler would speedily up-end the fighter and soon have him crawling to the phone to beg for an ambulance, if there wore anything left that might be capable of crawling.
Jack Johnson would be a soft mark for a (Frank) Gotch (right), a Cutler or any one of numerous heavyweight grapplers who have appeared on the mat before Lincoln audiences. John L. Sullivan would have been a tyro in the grip of a high class grappler, and it would have been, the same all down the line of the so-called pugilistic champions who have been the Boston bruiser's successors.
The wrestler is better muscled, better trained and better able to take punishment than the fighter, and the speed he would show in getting into close quarters, would scatter bruiser's so-called "science" galley west. Once in the grappler's clutches, the fighter would find himself dusting the boards, either with his paunch or his back, with an arm or a leg twisted out of shape and as helpless as an alley rat in the Jaws of a relentless terrier.
But there can be no teat of the relative prowess of the bruiser and the grappler. The alleged exponent of the "manly art of self-defense" couldn't be dragged into a combat with a high grade grappler by a locomotive and steel cable attachment- and it wouldn't be necessary to summon the services of the champion wrestler in turning the trick.
The inability of Frank Moran, the Pittsburgh boy, to lift the fight crown from the inky brow of the Galveston negro provided no surprise. The Johnson offense was something of a joke compared with the attack which beat down Jim Jeffries four years ago out at Reno, but it was enough to take the measure of the amateurish Plttsburgher, who merely went into the fray to collect the loser's end.
Most of the American fight writers and critics who witnessed the mill in Paris agree that age and dissipation- just as they did in the case of Jeffries- have sapped the big negro's vitality, and they predict that the fast pace the burly smoke has been going will yet make him an easy mark. William A. Brady, former manager of Jim Corbett, has seen all of the big fights and fighters during the past twenty-five years and' his judgment of Jack Johnson and the miserable showing he made Saturday night in gay Paree ought to pass at par.
Here is the Brady story of the fray: It was a second rate exhibition between two mixed ale fighters. That is my opinion of the Johnson-Moran misnamed fight. Had it been in New York the spectators would have stopped the disgusting affair after ten rounds. Not one effective blow was struck by either man in the entire contest and there never was the suspicion of a jar, much less a knockdown. The spectacle of the world's champion, superior in weight, science, experience and strength, clinging to his smaller antagonist, expressing in every move and appealing glance his yearning for the final tap of the gong- this was Johnson in the last three rounds.
Moran did his best in the eighteenth and nineteenth rounds to gain at least a draw, but his very exertions so tired him as to make his appearance in the twentieth round pitiful. He was gone, staggering about the ring like a drunken man and swinging blindly at the air.
Johnson was in even worst condition, his sole effort being to lean on the groping white man. Had either of them been even a good second-rater a knockout would have been inevitable.
Johnson was so tired he forgot even the idea of defense and it was only Moran's exhaustion that saved the negro from being knocked out. A straight left and the old-time right uppercut in clinches were all that Johnson had to offer and the result of these blows was merely an abrasion on Moran's left eye and the bridge of his nose.