ABOUT TIME: Dorothy Cross, the
great-great niece of boxing legend Jack Johnson, meets
Senator John McCain in Washington. The senator introduced
legislation on Wednesday seeking a pardon for Johnson
Plea for a pardon goes to Obama
THE fight for a pardon of Jack Johnson, the first black
heavyweight boxing champion, is being taken to Barack Obama, the
first black US president.
Linda Haywood, a great-great niece of Johnson, said a
pardon of the fighter from the early 1900s would mean more coming
from Obama than it would have from a failed bid before former
president George W Bush.
“I was hoping President Bush would do it,” said Haywood.
“But it would mean so much more if Obama would do it.”
In 1913, Johnson was the first person convicted under the
Mann Act, which forbids taking a woman across state lines for
immoral purposes. Johnson’s consensual relationship with a white
woman was seen then by many as taboo.
US Senator John McCain and representative Peter King
introduced legislation on Wednesday seeking a pardon for Johnson
over a conviction now seen as racially motivated.
“We want to reverse this injustice,” McCain said. “We
need to erase this act of racism that sent an American citizen to
prison on charges that were trumped up. ”
Johnson ruled the heavyweight realm in flamboyant fashion
from 1908 until 1915.
He took the title on December 28 1908 in Sydney when
Australian police stopped his fight against Tommy Burns in the 14th
round after Johnson had beaten the Canadian into submission.
Johnson defended his crown nine times, most notably in
1910 against former champion James Jeffries, who came out of
retirement as “The Great White Hope” .
Johnson beat Jim Flynn in 1912 in the first Las Vegas
title fight, twice defended the crown in Paris, then lost it in
Havana in 1915 when Jess Willard knocked him out in the 26th round
of the longest heavyweight title fight ever.