On Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump posthumously pardoned former world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. Alongside the president were actor Sylvester Stallone, best known for playing Rocky Balboa, and also present were former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and reigning WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. The pardon is something that has long had a movement behind it, and now it has finally officially happened.
Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act on charges that he had transported a woman across state lines “for immoral purposes.” Johnson was sentenced to a year in prison, but he fled the country for several years, returning in 1920 to serve a 10-month sentence. And he was convicted despite the fact that the incidents used to convict him took place before the passage of the Mann Act. Decades after his conviction, his case drew considerable attention as a gross miscarriage of justice. That leads us to the recent pardon issued by President Trump.
Johnson became champion on December 26, 1908, when he defeated then champion Tommy Burns in a one-sided mismatch. The fight was ultimately stopped by the police after fourteen rounds, and Johnson was awarded the title by referee decision. Over the next six-plus years, Johnson defended the championship 8 times, including notable victories against Stanley Ketchel and former champion James J Jeffries. Johnson ultimately lost the title against Jess Willard by 26th round knockout on April 5, 1915. Although he never received another title shot, Johnson continued fighting professionally into the 1930s, by which point he was in his 50s.
This edition of Rummy’s Corner provides a brief recap of Johnson’s championship reign, which includes some highlights from some of his better known bouts, while also quickly going over the circumstances surrounding his conviction and the subsequent recent posthumous pardon from President Donald Trump. Please watch and enjoy the video!