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Carpentier and Gunboat Smith

Boxing stars Georges Carpentier and 'Gunboat' Smith pull the crowds ahead of their title bout for the World White Heavyweight Championship.

Non-Fiction 1914 1 mins Silent


This tense newsreel coverage of the World White Heavyweight Championship at London's Olympia shows American boxer Edward 'Gunboat' Smith preparing to meet French challenger Georges Carpentier on 16 July. We don't see the match itself, but Topical Budget cashes-in on the 'big-fight' build-up, snapping Carpentier leaving his hotel and Smith sparring for charity (and publicity, no doubt).

On the night, Carpentier won the bout to become Champion by default, when Smith was disqualified for striking the Frenchman while he was on the ground. Carpentier and Smith were among several White Heavyweights contending for the unofficial title of 'Great White Hope' - reflecting whites' anxiety at the continuing supremacy of African-American boxer Jack Johnson, the first black World Heavyweight Champion, who held on to his title from 1908 until he was finally defeated in 1915. Carpentier never fought him. Perhaps surprisingly given its uncomfortable racial connotations, the term 'Great White Hope' has gone into general use to describe challengers in sport, politics and beyond.