Trump considers posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson

23 April, 2018, 21:53 | Author: Christina Harvey
  • Sporting News  Sporting News via Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is considering granting a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson on the advice of actor Sylvester Stallone.

It reads: "Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial", Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. Johnson's victory over Jeffries, a white boxer, led to deadly race riots. He was convicted in 1913 for violating the Mann Act, created to prevent prostitution and "immorality" but often exploited to intimidate interracial couples. The supposed intent of the Mann Act was to prevent human trafficking, but the law was disproportionately applied to African American citizens, according to critics.

Stallone, who played Rocky Balboa in the "Rocky" movies, is one of many people over the decades who've sought a pardon for Johnson, who died in 1946. George W Bush and Barack Obama, the first black president, did not act on the matter but the Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain has supported legislation for a pardon.

Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury but spent seven years as an exiled fugitive in Europe before turning himself in and serving a year in prison. Johnson first became the heavyweight champion in 1908 when he beat Tommy Burns in a fight in Sydney, Australia.

But it was his conviction in 1913 that ended his boxing career and unfairly tarnished his reputation for years to come.




After seven years as a fugitive following his conviction, Johnson eventually returned to the US and turned himself in.

"He had money, and even with his money, he couldn't stop it", Haywood said.

Presidents who have been asked to pardon Johnson in the past have opted not to do so.

"Jack Johnson is a boxing and pioneer whose reputation was wrongly tarnished by a racially motivated conviction more than a century ago,"McCain said previous year".

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