Trump Weighing a Pardon for This Man

After call from Sly Stallone, boxer Jack Johnson could get a posthumous pardon
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2018 8:34 AM CDT
Jack Johnson Could Finally See Justice
Boxer Jack Johnson. President Trump says he's considering "a Full Pardon!" for boxing's first black heavyweight champion more than 100 years after Johnson was convicted by all-white jury of "immorality" for one of his relationships.   (AP Photo/File)

A legendary boxer, an actor who played a legendary boxer, and the current president of the United States: It's an unlikely trio, but President Trump, at the urging of his chum Sylvester Stallone, says he's considering a pardon for the world's first black heavyweight champ, Jack Johnson, reports CNN. Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury under the Mann Act for taking a white girlfriend across state lines in a racially charged verdict that destroyed a dizzying career; he served a year in prison. "Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial," Trump tweeted. "Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!"

Stallone isn't the first to push for justice for Johnson. "Johnson's imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor," John McCain told the AP earlier this month. Johnson's descendants have long sought a pardon, particularly under former President Obama, but the Justice Department at the time concluded that "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." The AP has much more on Johnson's story here. (Trump pardoned a controversial figure earlier this month.)

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