Trump grants posthumous pardon for convicted boxer Jack Johnson

  • Trump grants posthumous pardon for convicted boxer Jack Johnson

Trump grants posthumous pardon for convicted boxer Jack Johnson

Donald Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion more than 100 years after what Trump said many feel was a racially motivated injustice.

Trump tweeted last month that he would consider pardoning Johnson after receiving a call from Stallone, who, according to the president, had explained the fighter's "complex and controversial" life. Previous pleas to presidents by celebrities and lawmakers had failed.

"It's my honor to do it", Trump said Thursday during a ceremony in the Oval Office.

Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder admires the courage and style of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion. Johnson won the title from the Canadian boxer Tommy Burns in 1908.

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.

Johnson, born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878 and the son of former slaves, enjoyed showing off the riches his boxing prowess earned him. At the time, it was not just a departure from convention but also unsafe for a black man to court a white woman, and laws against interracial marriage had not yet been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Johnson defended his crown nine times, notably in 1910 over former champion James J. Jeffries, who came out of retirement as "The Great White Hope", in what was billed as "The Fight of the Century". But he believes Trump's motives were genuine, and he's genuinely happy for Haywood and other descendants of Johnson. I couldn't have hit him. It was awesome for me to see this, to see a guy after all these years and all these presidents that could have done it but not to do it, for this to happen for him now. The law was presented as a way to help stop prostitution, but it was also used for racist purposes or even by some to go after cheating husbands. Cameron did not cooperate with the investigation, which was prompted after Cameron's mother accused Johnson of kidnapping her daughter.

Johnson was arrested in 1912 with Lucille Cameron, a white woman who would later become his wife. Johnson skipped bail and fled the country, living in exile, before ultimately surrendering and returning to service his one-year sentence.

Johnson continued to fight, primarily in Spain and Mexico, before turning himself in to US authorities at the Mexican border in 1920. He eventually served nearly a year in prison for what's widely viewed as a racially motivated conviction.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Sen.

"He was treated very rough, very tough", Trump said Thursday as he signed what he called an "executive grant of clemency, a full pardon" to Johnson.

"It is the right thing to do".