Last On His Feet

Jack Johnson and the Battle of the Century

18 April 2023

Youssef Daoudi (Author), Adrian Matejka (Author)


A groundbreaking graphic portrait of boxing legend Jack Johnson, Last on His Feet offers a front-row seat to the Battle of the Century

On the morning of 4 July 1910, thousands of boxing fans stormed a newly built stadium in Reno, Nevada, to witness an epic showdown. Jack Johnson, the world’s first Black heavyweight champion—and most infamous athlete in the world because of his race—was paired against Jim Jeffries, a former heavyweight champion then heralded as the “great white hope.” It was the height of the Jim Crow era, and spectators were eager for Jeffries to restore the racial hierarchy that Johnson had pummelled with his quick fists.

Transporting readers directly into the ring, artist Youssef Daoudi and poet Adrian Matejka intersperse dramatic boxing action with vivid flashbacks to reveal how Johnson, the self-educated son of formerly enslaved parents, reached the pinnacle of sport—all while facing down a racist justice system. Through a combination of breathtaking illustrations and striking verse, Last on His Feet honours a contentious civil rights figure who has for more than a century been denied his proper due.


"[A] dynamic and unforgettable collaboration between artist Youssef Daoudi and writer Adrian Matejka... [Last on His Feet] is a wonder of words and images. It could be called a graphic novel if that description didn't fail to fully capture its cinematically visual and literary substance... [A] masterpiece. " — Rick Kogan, The Chicago Tribune

"Last on His Feet... revisits this "Fight of the Century," which wasn't just a landmark in athletics—it was a crucible for the racial animosity Black Americans had to navigate during Jim Crow. Through a stylish mix of prose, blank verse and illustrations, Last on His Feet captures these tensions with unsparing poignancy. " — Brandon Tensley, Smithsonian Magazine



185 x 246 mm • 336 pages


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