Washington, May 25 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Thursday pardoned former world boxing champion Jack Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 of engaging in a relationship with a white woman and saw his career destroyed.
“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,” Efe quoted Trump as saying.
He was accompanied in the Oval Office by actor Sylvester Stallone as well as relatives of the disgraced fighter and former and current boxers.
On April 21 this year, Trump had announced that he was considering issuing a full pardon for Johnson after speaking with Stallone.
The acclaimed fighter was born on March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas, to parents who were former slaves and was the first African-American to win a world boxing title in 1908.
During this period, the “Galveston Giant” beat white former champion James Jeffries in what was dubbed the “fight of the century” and which led to anti-black race riots across the US.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted by an all-white male jury in Chicago of violating the Mann Act – which was ostensibly aimed at preventing sex trafficking – for crossing state lines with his white girlfriend, Lucille Cameron.