President Trump considering posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson

23 April 2018, 05:38 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Modal Trigger Jack Johnson and Donald Trump Getty Images

Trump considering pardon of late boxing champ Jack Johnson

Trump, spurred by a phone call from Sylvester Stallone, tweeted Saturday that he's thinking about posthumously pardoning the trailblazing fighter.

An undated photo of Jack Johnson, born in Galveston, Texas, who became the first black man to win the heavyweight boxing title. "His trials and tribulations had been nice, his life complicated and controversial". ".I am considering a Full Pardon!".

Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for taking his white girlfriend across state lines for "immoral" purposes.

"But this was white-on-black race riots in every corner of the United States, where groups of whites unhappy that Jeffries had lost went into black neighborhoods to kill African-Americans simply because of the color of their skin, simply because Jack Johnson was unforgivably black", documentary filmmaker Ken Burns told CNN's Carol Costello in 2005.

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Linda E. Haywood, Johnson's great-great niece said the Justice Department policy said at the time "processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons".

Seen by many at the time as the "Great White Hope," Jeffries threw in the towel in round 15 of 45 as Johnson toyed with him in front of 15,000 boxing fans in Reno, Nevada. He managed to escape and flee to Europe (like Roman Polanski, but for a much like horrifying crime), before returning to America in 1920 to face the music and serve his sentence in prison. Johnson was sentenced to a year and one day in prison. He died in 1946 in an auto crash.

Activists and family members have long advocated for Johnson's posthumous pardon, as have US officials like Sen. This year, McCain; Sen. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had also called for a pardon.

The US President tweeted that he would be looking at a "full pardon" after hearing of the boxer's case through the Rocky actor. Bush pardoned Charles Winters in 2008, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949. "Regardless of this decision passing each chambers of Congress a number of occasions lately, no pardon has been issued up to now". In 2017, Senator Cory Booker joined those efforts. "I hope President Trump will seize the opportunity before him to right this historical wrong and restore a great athlete's legacy".



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