Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnson

President Donald Trump has posthumously pardoned boxer Jack Johnson.US President Donald Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after his racially charged conviction.
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“I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honour a truly legendary boxing champion,” Trump said on Thursday during an Oval Office ceremony.

He was joined by WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, retired heavyweight titleholder Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, whom Trump credited with championing the pardon.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison “for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice.”

“It’s my honour to do it. It’s about time,” the president said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act for travelling with his white girlfriend. That law made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes.”

Trump had tweeted in late April that Stallone, a longtime friend, had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

Lewis said Johnson had been an inspiration to him personally, while Stallone said Johnson had served as the basis of the character Apollo Creed in his Rocky films.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said.

Trump has a personal history with the sport, and hosted matches in the 1990s at his hotels.

After Johnson’s conviction, he spent seven years as a fugitive, but eventually returned to the US and turned himself in. He served about a year in federal prison and was released in 1921. He died in 1946 in a car crash.

His great-great niece, Linda E. Haywood, had pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Republican Senator John McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, had promoted Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then beat a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain, who is often at odds with Trump, praised him late Thursday for the pardon.

“President Trump’s action today finally closes a shameful chapter in our nation’s history and marks a milestone that the American people can and should be proud of,” McCain tweeted.

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