Donald Trump pardons black boxing champion Jack Johnson

Marco Green
May 25, 2018

Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone - a long-time friend of Mr Trump who has been credited with bringing Johnson's story to the president's attention - was present at the White House ceremony.

Johnson was 68 when he died in a vehicle accident in June 1946.

In the clip above, John Yang spoke with Ken Burns about the challenges Johnson faced as a prominent black athlete and how they still affect the nation today.

Born in 1878 in Galveston, Texas, to former slaves, Johnson overcame hard circumstances to reach the heights of the boxing world and inspired generations with his tenacity and independent spirit.

Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder admires the courage and style of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion.

Boxer Jack Johnson (56-11-8, 35 KOs) was the first black world heavyweight champion.

Stallone and Lewis are among the many fight fans to take up Johnson's cause in recent years.

Three years later, he was convicted by an all-white jury of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport a woman across state lines for "immoral" purposes. But in 1910, Johnson gained the championship belt, and Jeffries emerged from retirement to "reclaim the heavyweight championship for the white race". Cameron did not cooperate with the investigation, which was prompted after Cameron's mother accused Johnson of kidnapping her daughter. In 1920, he returned to the U.S. and served almost a year in jail.

"On behalf of the world of boxing, I would like to praise, congratulate, and thank you for taking this very big step for human equality and inclusion", Mauricio Sulaiman Saldivar, president of World Boxing Council said calling the event "a great day for the sport" and "a great day for humanity".

Trump noted that the fighter's 1913 conviction, which was tied to his relationships with white women, was one that "many view as a racially motivated injustice".

President Trumps holds a signed Executive Grant of Clemency for Jack Johnson in the Oval Office.

Stallone, heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Johnson's great-great niece Linda Bell Haywood joined Trump in the Oval Office Thursday.

After his conviction, Johnson had fled the country.

Congressional leaders have also sought the pardon, including U.S. Sen. Then-Senator Harry Reid, Senator John McCain, and Representatives Peter King and Gregory Meeks all petitioned Barack Obama's White House administration for the pardon.

"It is the right thing to do".

Obama, however, kept to the presidential tradition of nearly never granting a posthumous pardon. "But it also reminds us of a racist past and how even today racist remarks and coded words are used to imperil African Americans, especially black men, and to advance an un-American agenda".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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