President Trump considering posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson

Actor Sylvester Stallone called Trump to advocate for the late boxer's pardon.

April 22, 2018, 6:47 PM

President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he is considering a posthumous pardon of Jack Johnson, the first black boxing heavyweight champion.

PHOTO: The heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson (1878-1946) is pictured in this undated file photo.
The heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson (1878-1946) is pictured in this undated file photo.
Corbis via Getty Images, FILE

"Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson," the president tweeted Saturday. "His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!"

PHOTO: Sylvester Stallone arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Promise' at TCL Chinese Theater, April 12, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.
Sylvester Stallone arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Promise' at TCL Chinese Theater, April 12, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.
Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

Trump said he received a phone call from “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone, who told him about Johnson’s life story. The White House did not say when the call occurred, but Trump and Stallone have been acquaintances for years.

PHOTO: American boxer Jack Johnson poses for a portrait circa 1900.
American boxer Jack Johnson poses for a portrait circa 1900.
The Ring Magazine/Getty Images, FILE

In 1913, Johnson, who was black, was convicted by an all-white jury with violating the Mann Act after transporting a white woman he was dating across state lines for “immoral purposes.” Johnson served one year in prison.

PHOTO: American heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson (1878-1946), is pictured with his wife on board a ship in this undated stock photo.
American heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson (1878-1946), is pictured with his wife on board a ship in this undated stock photo.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images, FILE
PHOTO: Former world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson is pictured with his wife Irene in Paris in this undated file photo.
Accompanied by his wife Irene, Jack Johnson, former world heavyweight boxing champion, strolls on the Champs Elysees on his arrival in Paris from Brussels, Belgium, where he engaged in a series of wrestling matches, in this undated file photo.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Johnson, a boxing legend and major figure in 20th century sports, bucked racial barriers and racism until his death in 1946.

PHOTO: Jack Johnson, former heavyweight champion, and his wife are pictured on the S.S. Bremen in this undated file photo.
Jack Johnson, former heavyweight champion, and his wife are pictured on the S.S. Bremen in this undated file photo.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images, FILE

Johnson’s great-great niece, Linda Haywood, has led the charge for Johnson to receive a rare posthumous pardon, according to the Associated Press.

PHOTO: American boxer Jack Johnson is pictured circa 1913.
American boxer Jack Johnson is pictured circa 1913.
Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images, FILE

In recent years, Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Harry Reid (R-Kentucky) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have advocated for Johnson’s name to be cleared. This year, McCain, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) reintroduced legislation urging a posthumous pardon.

PHOTO: American boxers Stanley Ketchell (1886-1910) (L) and Jack Johnson (1878-1946) touch gloves while squaring off in the boxing ring before their fight in San Francisco, Calif. Oct. 10, 1909.
American boxers Stanley Ketchell (1886-1910) (L) and Jack Johnson (1878-1946) touch gloves while squaring off in the boxing ring before their fight in San Francisco, Calif. Oct. 10, 1909. Johnson, who in 1908 became the first African-American to win the heavyweight crown, won the match.
American Stock/Getty Images, FILE

“Jack Johnson is a boxing legend and pioneer whose reputation was wrongly tarnished by a racially motivated conviction more than a century ago,” said McCain in a statement. “Despite this resolution passing both chambers of Congress several times in recent years, no pardon has been issued to date. I hope President Trump will seize the opportunity before him to right this historical wrong and restore a great athlete’s legacy."

PHOTO: American boxer Jack Johnson poses for a portrait circa 1909.
American boxer Jack Johnson poses for a portrait circa 1909.
Buyenlarge/Getty Images, FILE

Trump has recently pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.

PHOTO: American boxer Jack Johnson (1878 - 1946), is pictured July 4, 1910. Johnson was the first African-American World Champion, after he defeated Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada.
American boxer Jack Johnson (1878 - 1946), is pictured July 4, 1910. Johnson was the first African-American World Champion, after he defeated Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada.
Sean Sexton/Getty Images, FILE
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