The White Brothers: From steamers to trucks
â€śThe Fight of the Centuryâ€? took place in 1910, pitting Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight boxing champion against Jim Jefferies who was white. The fight was shrouded with racial tension and gave rise to the term â€śGreat White Hope,â€? referring to the need to find a white man capable of defeating the black champion. Jeffries, the unbeaten but retired former champion stepped forward. Walter, Windsor and Rollin White, owners of the White Company of Cleveland, the worldâ€™s largest producer of steam cars and a recent convert to gasoline-powered automobiles, saw a great marketing opportunity. They offered a gasoline powered White automobile to Johnson and another White car to Jeffries, to use as pacing cars for their morning workouts. Jeffries lost the fight. Johnson became a wealthy celebrity-athlete, and the White Company of Cleveland went on to become one of the nationâ€™s four largest truck manufacturers. The White story begins with Thomas White who started building sewing machines in 1858. The 22-year-old sold them for $10 apiece. In 1866 he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his first son, Windsor, was born. A second son, Rollin was born six years later, followed in 1876 by Walter. That year Thomas incorporated the White Sewing Machine Company and introduced a vibrating-shuttle lock-stitch sewing-machine. It sold well and by 1882 White Sewing was producing 1,200 machines a week.