As an entrepreneur, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is a known fighter, but the
mogul is applying that ethos to the "Jack Johnson Collection," a new
line of clothing under his Sean John umbrella.
The collection is named after Jack Johnson, the first African-American boxing
heavyweight champion. Johnson’s remarkable and highly controversial career was
captured in the award winning documentary "Unforgivable Blackness" by
world renowned filmmaker Ken Burns.
Combs said Johnson’s name will not be prominent on the line, but it will conjure
the former champion in other clandestine ways.
"I don’t want some kind of retro stuff, like clothes from 1906," Combs
told the New York Times. "I want contemporary. If somebody’s wearing one
of my track suits, I want it to say ‘champion’ from two blocks away."
Born in 1878, Johnson became the first African- American heavyweight champion,
after a crushing defeat of champion Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia on December
26, 1908. The Galveston, Texas native continues to inspire almost 130 years after
he was born.
Mos Def’s rock/rap band Black Jack Johnson was named in the boxer’s honor and on Mos’
album The New Danger, the rapper sings of Johnson’s plight on "Blue
"Jack Johnson had all the skills — he was handsome, he was charismatic and
he was a fantastic fighter and he still got no love, and I think it’s the same
with hip-hop," Mos Def told Interview magazine in 2002. "Folks sell
millions of records, influence the rest of popular culture, and still continue
to be misrepresented."
Combs hopes the collection, along with new lines of business for Sean John, including
a women’s line, will boost sales. Although Sean John reportedly experienced a
net loss last year, the line still brought in wholesale revenue of almost $150
million in 2004.