It has only been in the last decade that mixed martial arts has shown face in mainstream media. In fact, it could be argued that it’s notoriety among the mainstream media has really only hit its peak in the last five years thanks to stars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. With new ownership currently taking over the decision making of the UFC and the marketability of fighters taking precedence over their skills and fight IQ, it makes sense that MMA is now beginning to boom.
However, long before MMA were traditional martial arts from Judo to Boxing and much more. Across these combat sports came a variety of legends that we hardly hear a word about when discussing the founding fathers of this sport. Whether you are a long-time martial arts fan, new to the combat sports landscape or just getting into it, make sure you read up on these figures because their influence is everlasting despite their names being slightly unknown. Here are Sportskeeda’s 5 legendary fighters you’ve never heard of.
#5 Jack Johnson
The modern era of boxing is very much dominated by two marquee names: Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. But before these present stars stepped in a boxing ring, before their parents even gave birth to them and even before the legend of Muhammad Ali was built, there was Jack Johnson. Johnson is considered one of the ancestors of African American boxing mainly because he was the first ever black heavyweight champion of the world.
He made his professional debut in 1898 where he destroyed his opponent with a 15-second knockout. Johnson recorded a total of 104 fights spanning over the course of his 13-year career and left a legacy for up and coming African American boxers such as Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson to emulate down the road.