President Donald Trump has announced he’s considering a posthumous full pardon of boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson. And it’s all thanks to “Rocky” and “Rambo” star Sylvester Stallone.
“Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson,” tweeted Trump on 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!”
Stallone and Trump have long had a public relationship. Stallone even reportedly attended Trump’s 2016 New Year’s Eve party.
The controversial Jackson, born in Galveston, Texas, sparked race riots due to some of his victories in the ring, including his win over white boxer James Jeffries in 1910.
In 1913 Jackson was convicted of violating the Mann Act, a law that made it illegal to transport a woman across state lines for “immoral” purposes. He was convicted by an all-white jury.
The woman in question, Lucille Cameron, later became Jackson’s wife. She refused to cooperate with the investigation, but other witnesses stepped forward. Jackson’s conviction is widely considered a miscarriage of justice.
The boxer even fled the country after his conviction. He returned years later after agreeing to serve a 10-month sentence. He died in 1946.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has long called for a posthumous pardon of Jackson, as did the recently retired Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a shameful stain on our nation’s history,” said McCain in a public statement in January 2017.
McCain was open about his disappointment in former President Barack Obama for not granting Jackson a pardon.
Stallone’s interest in the case makes sense. The 71-year-old filmmaker has long been involved in boxing due to his successful “Rocky” franchise — there are seven movies in total, with an eighth due out later this year. Stallone was even inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.
It would be remarkable to see the president acknowledge the mistreatment Jackson received, but it would also be interesting to see how the media and the frothing-at-the-mouth leftists react to such a move. A pardon for Jackson has been requested by people on both sides of the political aisle — and it’s something Obama never did, despite his numerous promises to better race relations in the country.
In all likelihood, the mainstream media would go into overdrive to spin such a pardon into a negative act. But politics aside, it’s the right thing to do.