Trump Posthumously Pardons Boxing Legend Jack Johnson

With Sylvester Stallone (second right) and Lennox Lewis (right) behind him, President Trump holds up the pardon he signed for the late Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, at the White House, May 24, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

President Trump on Thursday pardoned the late world-famous boxer Jack Johnson, who was convicted of transporting a white woman across state lines in 1913.

“Today I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously, to John Arthur ‘Jack’ Johnson….the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter. Had a tough life,” Trump said in a statement.

Johnson was convicted under the Mann Act for transporting Belle Schreiber, a prostitute with whom he’d had a previous relationship, across state lines “for immoral purposes.” The case is now widely considered to have been the product of a racist criminal-justice system. Johnson, who died in 1946, was convicted in under an hour by an all-white jury and sentenced to one year in prison. He subsequently fled to Mexico before returning in 1920 to serve his sentence.

Several famous boxers, joined by movie star Sylvester Stallone and Johnson’s great-great niece, Linda Bell Haywood, gathered in the Oval Office to celebrate the occasion.