“All fights end with handshakes.”- Cameron Conaway, Author
United States President Donald Trump issued a posthumous pardon yesterday (May 24) to late boxer Jack Johnson who was locked up a century ago for having relationship with a white woman. The first coloured champion of boxing’s heavyweight division, Johnson was infamously jailed for having intimate ties with caucasian ladies, violating the Mann act. According to the act, it was unlawful to take women across the state lines for disreputable purposes.
Jack was summoned by court in 1912 with his future wife, Lucille Cameron for violating the act, which was passed two years earlier. The case did not gain any momentum as Ms Cameron did not cooperate at all. However, a prior incidence of a white lady named Belle Schreiber was brought before the judges. An all-white jury convicted Johnson for travelling out of the state with her. Johnson was sentenced a year of federal prison.
After the conviction, the late boxer was brutally scrutinized for his ostentatious display of his title, money and relationships with caucasian women, causing Jack to live seven years on foreign land as a fugitive. Later, he returned to his home soil, turning himself in.
Johnson passed away in 1946. His great-grandniece, Senator John McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been trying to get the late boxer a pardon granted. Previously McCain spoke about the boxer, “Johnson was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”
Jack gained quite some popularity with biographies and documentaries in the civil rights era. He quickly rose to stardom owning to his exceptional boxing skills and the charges that he faced based on bigotry and injustice.
In a racially prejudiced America, despite Jack’s exceptional skills, he was one of the most abominated African-American of his age for shaming white boxers and flaunting his then socially-unacceptable relationships.
In 1908, Jack trounced boxer Tommy Burns acclaiming the heavyweight title. It was a time when blacks did not dare to fight in the same ring as whites. Johnson did not stop here. He ruthlessly put an end to “great white hopes” by climaxing his boxing career with his sensational fight. Jack faced off undefeated former champ James J. Jefferies in 1910 to get his named noted in the books of history.
Celebrity Sylvester Stallone who starred in record-breaking movie series Rocky along with former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis stood around Trump in his Oval Office as he proceeded on to pardon the late boxer.
Earlier this year in April, Trump tweeted that he was considering pardoning the talented black boxer after talking to Stallone.
Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
On Thursday morning, the Rocky star posted a picture of himself at the White House on his Instagram account. The caption read, “Waiting for the moment to go into the oval office for the pardon…”
After granting a posthumous pardon to the boxing’s legend, Trump spoke of Stallone. He said, “I love his movies.”