ARIZONA NEWS

McCain praises Trump’s posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson

May 24, 2018, 4:45 PM
FILE - In this 1932 file photo, boxer Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight champion, pos...

FILE - In this 1932 file photo, boxer Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight champion, poses in New York City. President Donald Trump on Thursday, May 24, 2018, granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after a racially-charged conviction. (AP Photo/File)

(AP Photo/File)

PHOENIX — A battle that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had been fighting for more than a decade came to a close on Thursday, when President Donald Trump issued a posthumous pardon for heavyweight boxing legend John Arthur “Jack” Johnson.

In a statement on Thursday, the Arizona senator applauded Trump for the move, saying that Johnson’s reputation was ruined by the “racially-charged” conviction.

“For years, Congress has overwhelmingly supported legislation calling on multiple U.S. presidents to right this historical wrong and restore this great athlete’s legacy,” McCain wrote.

“President Trump’s action today finally closes a shameful chapter in our nation’s history and marks a milestone that the American people can and should be proud of.”

Johnson, an African-American male, was twice arrested in 1912 for violating the Mann Act, a federal law that makes it a felony to transport a woman or girl for the “purpose of prostitution or debauchery,” for travelling across state lines with his girlfriend, Lucille Cameron, a white woman.

He was convicted one year later for violating the law by an all-white jury and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

“I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony.

He was joined by WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, retired heavyweight titleholder Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, whom Trump credited with championing the pardon.

McCain has called on presidents to pardon Johnson since 2004, when he introduced a resolution calling on then-President George W. Bush to “exercise his Constitutional authority” and pardon the boxer posthumously.

He also called on then-President Barack Obama to issue a posthumous pardon for Johnson in 2017.

McCain, a life-long boxing fan, even joined former professional boxer Mike Tyson and former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in 2013 to launch a Change.org petition to call on Obama to issue the pardon. The petition got more than 7,400 signatures.

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McCain praises Trump’s posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson