Donald Trump considers pardoning Jack Johnson after Sylvester Stallone request

Sporting News  Sporting News via Getty Images

Sporting News Sporting News via Getty Images

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

He was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for crossing state lines with a white woman for an "immoral objective".

"Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson", Trump tweeted earlier today. "His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial", Trump wrote. ".I am considering a Full Pardon!". "The Mann Act purported to prevent human trafficking for the objective of prostitution, but critics have argued it was applied inconsistently to criminalize African Americans and those with dissenting political views". He passed away at the age of 68 in 1946, four days before Trump was even born. More recently, the documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson", directed by Ken Burns, was aired on PBS in 2004. He managed to escape and flee to Europe (like Roman Polanski, but for a much like horrifying crime), before returning to America in 1920 to face the music and serve his sentence in prison.

A relative of Jack Johnson has also been leading an effort to get Trump to grant a pardon, the Associated Press reported. He died in 1946 in an auto crash. The bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the White House asking for the pardon in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Johnson's death. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had also called for a pardon.

Republican Senator John McCain has previously lobbied for Johnson's conviction to be overturned, saying that the greatest heavyweight fighter of his generation should have his legacy restored.

Haywood wanted Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says "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".

Campaigns for posthumous pardons have been in motion since the turn of the century, but have not found much success. "Regardless of this decision passing each chambers of Congress a number of occasions lately, no pardon has been issued up to now". Cory Booker joined with McCain, King and Meeks to reintroduce a resolution urging Johnson's pardon. A search was launched for a "Great White Hope" who could beat him in the ring, but in vain.

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