Jack Johnson pardoned

Jack Johnson, the champion prizefighter who defended his title in Reno in what was known as the Great White Hope fight, has received a posthumous pardon from Donald Trump.

Until Johnson, white fighters refused to fight blacks. Then Johnson started following champ Tommy Burns all over the world until Burns agreed to a bout in Australia, where Johnson won.

Johnson held the heavyweight title from 1908 to 1915, and was noted for his lifestyle of fast cars and white women, which delighted his fans but prompted white prosecutors to use the Mann Act against him. The Act was intended by Congress to deal with white slavery (“transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes”) but prosecutors misused it to charge Johnson with crossing state lines with consenting women. He was convicted by an all-white jury (“The great black hope,” RN&R, July 1, 2010). He fled the country and spent much of his championship in exile, losing some of his best fighting years.

Several previous presidents had received pardon requests from Johnson family members, Sen. John McCain and other public figures but failed to act.

Johnson’s last Nevada appearance was an exhibition in Boulder City in 1932.