Philadelphia light heavyweight champion Jack O'Brien, circa 1910.
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Jack O'Brien in a boxing stance, posing for photo.

Credit: Library of Congress

In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania's boxers were as tough as they come. One of the greatest was Philadelphia's Jack O'Brien (1878-1942), who the World Light Heavyweight title from Bob Fitzsimmons in 1905. In his twenty-year career, O'Brien took on all opponents, regardless of weight class or race. In 1909 O'Brien, who stood 5"10 and typically weighed 165 pounds, fought heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, and although forty pounds lighter, held him to a six-round draw.

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