Published: Mon, April 23, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

Who was Jack Johnson, the boxer who may be pardoned by Trump?

Who was Jack Johnson, the boxer who may be pardoned by Trump?

President Donald Trump is considering pardoning the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson.

Trump said that Stallone had called him and told him about Johnson, and that he is now considering a posthumous pardon. "His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial", Trump tweeted.

Could Jack Johnson receive a presidential pardon more than 70 years after his death?

Johnson, a former heavyweight champion, was arrested in 1912 on suspicion of violating the Mann Act - which forbid people from transporting women across state lines for "immoral purposes".

While Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) has had a posthumous pardon of Johnson (the boxer died in 1946 in a vehicle crash) on his to-do list for years, and McCain was actually joined by Sen.

His fight with James Jeffries in 1910 is widely regarded as the "Fight of the Century".

Johnson's victory launched a racially-motivated search for what was called the "great white hope," a white man who could beat Johnson. She remembers learning about Johnson when she was in sixth grade during Black History Month, and only learned later that he was kin.

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In 1908, Johnson was the first African American to win the heavyweight championship. "In the end he got old, like we all do, and he got knocked out by Jess Willard". Stallone joins the likes of Arizona Senator John McCain and former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who have previously sought a pardon for Johnson.

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president.

Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury in less than two hours and was imprisoned for a year.

Obama did not pardon Johnson, leaving the boxer's descendants "deeply disappointed." "That's wrong." Haywood, alongside other Johnson's relatives, is asking Trump to grant him a pardon.

Campaigns for posthumous pardons have been in motion since the turn of the century, but have not found much success.

The sentence and imprisonment destroyed the boxing career of the "Galveston Giant". In 1999, President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to graduate from West Point in 1877, after being unjustly accused of embezzlement.

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