President Donald Trump granted a historic posthumous pardon to iconic boxer, Jack Johnson, 72 years after his death, clearing the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion of racially motivated charges stemming from his relationships with white women in 1912, reports NPR.
Speaking in the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump praised Johnson as “one of the greatest that ever lived. He was pretty much unbeatable.” Adding, “I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that happened in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion,” Trump said. “It’s about time.”
Johnson fled to Europe after he was convicted in 1913, but eventually returned and served several months in prison. Johnson’s success in the the boxing ring and winning the world heavyweight title in 1908 was distasteful to white Americans, and fueled racial violence against black people.
In 1912, Johnson was arrested for violating the Mann Act, an anti-prostitution law, and the conviction was transparently a punishment for Johnson’s relationships and marriages with white women.
For the full story, head on over to NPR.