Trump Unexpectedly Does What’s Right, Pardons Jack Johnson

By Paul Magno on May 24, 2018
Trump Unexpectedly Does What’s Right, Pardons Jack Johnson
Justice was finally served and it's never a bad day when justice is served. (Wikimedia)

Johnson had become a hated figure in a race-conscious early 20th century white America for his brash, outspoken ways and unapologetically lavish lifestyle…

President Trump has granted Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, an “executive grant of clemency, a full pardon” from a 1913 conviction for violating the Mann Act that many saw as race-related.

The pardon comes just a day after supporting an NFL owners decision to penalize players and teams for national anthem protests against racial injustice and police brutality, stating that those who don’t “stand proudly” for the anthem maybe “shouldn’t be in the country.”

With Sylvester Stallone, Lennox Lewis, and Deontay Wilder in attendance for the Oval Office signing of the pardon, Trump wiped away the Johnson conviction, describing it as an act “many view as a racially-motivated injustice” that took place during a “period of tremendous racial tension in the United States.”

Johnson had become a hated figure in a race-conscious early 20th century white America for his brash, outspoken ways and unapologetically lavish lifestyle. With his 1912 arrest for violating the Mann Act by transporting Belle Schreiber, a white woman, across state lines “for immoral purposes” he became an official target of a racially prejudiced legal system. In 1913, he was convicted of violating the Mann Act—in the government’s second attempt to charge him of violating that act—and sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

Rather than turn himself in quietly, though, the Galveston Giant fled the country, living abroad in Canada, Europe, South American, and Mexico until turning himself in at the Mexican border to federal agents in 1920.

The injustices stacked up around the Johnson conviction are well-documented. Convicted by an all-white jury in the courtroom of the notoriously racist Kenesaw Mountain Landis for an incident pre-dating the creation of the act for which he was convicted, the Johnson trial was a farce of an affair.

Previous attempts to pardon the former world champ have stalled for various reasons, most recently on the desk of President Barack Obama, who reportedly passed on the pardon, in part, because of Johnson’s history of violence against women.

But President Trump clearly has no fixation on women’s issues and, up until Thursday, not much of a concern for issues of racial injustice, either.

Yet, Trump actually put pen to paper when it comes to the Jack Johnson pardon and this has been one of the few rays of light coming from the orange Swamp Thing’s ultimate swamp of murky swampiness. Johnson’s conviction deserved to be erased, regardless of the lack of character he may have shown in his alleged aggression towards women. The two issues have no connection with one another.

Trump’s kindly compassion for a long-dead man of color flies in the face of his aggressive disinterest in showing compassion for living and breathing people of color. From the NFL brouhaha to trampling on the Dreamers to flippantly (and presumably inadvertently) lending moral support to angry White Nationalists, Trump has been all about “Making America White Again” when it comes to national pecking order issues.

Maybe a good part of the Johnson pardon is about taking another shot at former President Obama.

“They couldn’t get the President to sign it,” Mr. Trump said, in reference to past efforts at the Johnson pardon (and as an indirect jab at the man who has provoked Trump’s endless, obsessive ire).

But, of course, because Trump is such a kind-hearted, decent man, he DID sign the pardon….um, yeah.

Whatever the case, justice was finally served and it’s never a bad day when justice is served.

Many, many kudos, by the way, to Senator John McCain, who spent years pushing for this pardon and who, thankfully, was able to see it happen in his lifetime.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. Mike from Brooklyn 06:18am, 05/31/2018

    I was a little indignant and made a couple of grammatical mistakes.  Sorry about the mistakes.

    In short Kappernick supported the murderer Castro and it is no JUSTICE standing for something he started.  Repeat, the man Kappernick supported a murderer.

    Now Trump has made some mistakes.  And so have you Mr. Mango.  Your are part of the gutless liberal elites who have behaved like parrots.  Where the hell were you when with the best air force at his beck and call in the ME Obama let ISIS slaughter peaceful Azaidi people, rape women, some who committed suicide.  Did you mention that in any article.  No, you were Obama’s butt boy.  Were you sleeping then?  Trump said no more and helped stop these murderers as best he could. 

    Yeah you are just a wonderful person Mr. Mango.

    Sorry to boxing fans.  Blame it on the politically correct Mr. Mango who probably hasn’t an original thought in his life.

  2. Mike from Brooklyn 06:06am, 05/31/2018

    Well I thought I’d have to defend Trump against Paul Mango’s repeating all the bulls t being a horrible person.  Hey the guy who I presume is “your guy” Colin Kappernick supported Fidel Castro the murderer of human beings who would not buy his b.s. and paid with their lives in many cases.

    So you have some nerve going after Trump in a boxing article.  Peddle your
    Kappernick bull in Little Havana in Miami and those people whose lives had to be rebuilt due to the commie murderer Fidel. 

    Anyway good for Trump.  And bad for your guy Obama who just like Castro did nothing for the economy keeping black unemployment at a low rate.  Didn’t take long for Trump to fix that did he, boy genius Mango?  You big fool.

  3. Ollie Downtown Brown 04:48am, 05/28/2018

    “true patriotic Americans?” hahaha. Looks like the anti-America, anti-Western Culture, fascist known as “nonentity” aka nonprophet might have done a 180 degree turn here. “True patriotic Americans” have been mocked at and made sport of for years by Hollyweird, Madison Avenue and company. This sudden change of ideology for “patriots” like “nonprophet” is as puzzling as his comrade’s change of heart in McCain and Russia.  Russia, Russia, Russia was admired by “patriots” like “nonprophet” back in the day, but now that Russia has identified itself as a “Christian Nation,” kicked and promotes Russian nationalism, “patriots” like “nonprophet” hate Russia.

  4. Balaamsass 07:45pm, 05/27/2018

    @Ms nonperson-How in the fuk did you do it?! You actually posted without resorting to your go to magic word…..RACIST! FYI study after study has shown that magical thinking is a common failing of grievance ridden, hate filled “true patriotic Americans” like yourself and is a strong indication that one is batshit crazy! You’re more unhinged than Joy Behar you nasty girl you!

  5. Lonely Boy 09:04am, 05/27/2018

    Look, it’s “nonperson” showing up to our bbq and he’s all alone. Poor little old “nonperson” aka nonprohet. Just give the pathetic mooch some tater salad and maybe it will slither away.

  6. nonprophet 08:27am, 05/27/2018

    Figures this article would bunch up the panties of pathetic, mentally-deranged, sissified, super MAGA-chumps like “Baboon-ass” and Ollie “On-The-Down-Low” Brown. 

    Hurt feelings because Magno nailed it….again?  Or maybe just pissed off at true patriotic Americans because unlike you trump dick-riders, we won’t serve as cuckolds for your demented subhuman “president”. 

    Settle down trumpsters.  I have some advice:  Just show him your pussies fellas….he’ll instinctively grab it and you’ll be just fine.

  7. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:22am, 05/27/2018

    @ tony d… Thank you, sir, I truly hate to see this country go down like this, and I worry for the young ones future.
    Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend, sir !!

  8. tony d 06:06am, 05/27/2018

    hey Ollie you should run for office we need you! GO TRUMP!!!!

  9. Kid Blast 04:46pm, 05/26/2018

    The Jack Johnson pardon ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House was the very height of hypocrisy given the back stories. Bile-inducing IMHO but then I have done exhaustive research into the Jack Johnson story and what I found was extremely troubling and very, very dark. IMO, He should not have been pardoned.

  10. tony d 12:33pm, 05/26/2018

    exactly Ollie! well said sir!

  11. ceylon mooney 06:38am, 05/26/2018

    “no fixation on womens issues” holy shit what a euphamism.

  12. Dennis Taylor 03:52pm, 05/25/2018

  13. Ollie Downtown Brown 03:11pm, 05/25/2018

    @ Dennis Taylor…No but those Unite The Right people had a permit to have a peaceful protest without worrying about being attacked. The cops did nothing to prevent Antifa and other thugs from attacking people who have the same right as you or me to have a peaceful protest.  Btw, I am not a big fan of Trump at the moment, his handling of the Middle East is the same old sh*t that we have always seen in the past, maybe even worse with Kushner as the referee, what a joke that is. And as you might have noted, even though I don’t agree that Blacks are unfairly targeted by the police, I do support the player’s right to protest. I haven’t watched an NFL game in two years, so I don’t really care, but I AM PRO FIRST AMENDMENT and lend my support to them. Our First Amendment is OUR MOST PRECIOUS RIGHT, that is perhaps why the Founding Father’s placed it first.

  14. Daniel Pearson 03:06pm, 05/25/2018

    Dennis Taylor,

    While I don’t like the inflammatory tone, you have done what Paul failed to do, which is to provide facts and reasons as to why the President deserves this appellation as a racist.

    That is what I asked for.

    And by the way, I will be looking up the Central Park Five and the controversy.

  15. Dennis Taylor 03:00pm, 05/25/2018

    Not sure if you noticed, Ollie, but that black man with the blow torch wasn’t the president of the United States.

  16. Dennis Taylor 02:23pm, 05/25/2018

    Boxing people are understandably delighted that Jack Johnson has finally been pardoned, but anybody who thinks Trump did this for Johnson, Johnson’s legacy, or Johnson’s descendants hasn’t been paying attention to a president to just threatened to deport black athletes who don’t do as they’re told, who praised torch-wielding Nazis a few months ago, and characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists, murders, and, there are a few, I assume, who are good people.” Trump is also the man who took out a full-page add calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of black kids who, turns out, were completely innocent of the rape for which they had been accused. (Of course, Trump never apologized, never even backtracked on this horrific mistake.)
    What we saw with the Jack Johnson pardon was this president using Jack Johnson as a political pawn, issuing this order on the same day that he said NFL players who take a knee don’t belong in this country.
    The NFL players are exercising their Constitutional rights provided by the First Amendment —freedom of speech—something about which Donald J. Trump doesn’t give a shit.
    Jack Johnson deserves this pardon, but does not deserve to be used as a pawn and a smoke screen to deflect from the blatant racism that has been a common thread of Trump’s presidency ... and his life.
    Paul Magno isn’t “Trump bashing,” and neither am I. This racist president has earned every word of the criticism you’ve read in this space.

  17. Dan 01:57pm, 05/25/2018

    Paul, please stop with the Trump bashing.  I come to this sight to blow off steam, not listen to yet another media outlet criticize the president.  This type of reporting is generalizing, and therefore simply angers those who support Trump or pleases those who do not.  It does not provoke fruitful discussion.  Your comments concerning his “aggressive disinterest” are clear in their message (Trump has no concern for minorities), but lacks the backing of any factual data.  To be fair to you, Paul, such data would be impossible to put into this article- but for this very reason, I ask you either to cease slapping the opinions of your readers in the face, or back them up more.  Otherwise, either anger at disagreement, or gratification at agreement, will ensue, and the cause of both will be inflammatory remarks which excite the passions and not the intellect, and therefore increase division.

  18. George Otto 10:59am, 05/25/2018

    Smug ??  I have been accused of many things, but not that.  One description I have been unable to avoid is that of a terrible typist who avoids expressing himself in that way as much as possible.  Yes, TJQF is the Jerry Quarry Foundation for Pugilistica Dementia; AAIB is the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing.  Both of these organizations supported the intense and thorough efforts of Senator McCain and House Representative King, as well as other members of the U.S. Congress, in securing the passage of both the Professional Boxing Act of 1996 and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000, federal laws regulating the sweet science which exist today.  And, for what it is worth, President Bill Clinton signed both pieces of legislation into law.

  19. Lucas McCain 09:29am, 05/25/2018

    Your name:  google TJQF and you’ll find “The Jerry Quarry Foundation.”

  20. Your Name 08:11am, 05/25/2018

    What is the AAIB and TJQF ? People who use these initials come off as smug—as if we are expected to know what they mean. WOW!!! I’m duly impressed…..

    Not impressed Otto.

  21. Kid Blast 08:06am, 05/25/2018

    Paul,  This was not a “right” move. There was a terrible dark side to what JJ did out of the ring and it included domestic abuse, suicide, and absolutely no remorse. You might want to review this article:

  22. Ollie Downtown Brown 08:02am, 05/25/2018

    Personally I support the player’s right to not stand for the National Anthem. I am a TRUE ADVOCATE of the First Amendment and not just when it benefits me. Matter of fact, I don’t pledge much allegiance to what this country has become, so I might be taking a knee myself in the future. Anyone who doesn’t like the players and their kneeling, simply don’t attend the game and boycott anything associated with the league. I find it odd that some of these aging “hippies”  from the 60’s and early 70’s,  that were all so enthusiastic about protecting “free speech” when they were pushing pornography, and crude artwork of Jesus Christ, have a problem with someone flying a Confederate flag or a statue of Robert E. Lee. Our First Amendment in this country is under attack and I can give you all kind of examples, and Europe has become a joke. So I have to disagree with Trump on the National Anthem thingie.

  23. snowflake 06:36am, 05/25/2018

    Pull up a chair everyone, Crazy Uncle Ollie and “Rorschach” Balaamsass are here to lecture us about history.

  24. George Otto, Chief Counsel, AAIB and TJQF 06:30am, 05/25/2018

    Regarding the article, this writer does a good job of explaining what happened in here.  However, I would like to add a few remarks.  An important reason why former President Obama did not support this is because he is black.  Many white people who never accepted his being born in the USA and/or getting elected President legitimately on 2 occasions, would have been at least outraged about his pardoning Mr. Johnson.  Also, regarding support for this decision, kudos should also go to Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, who, like Senator McCain, has also been a strong supporter of the rights of fighters, active or otherwise, for many years.  Concerning Senator McCain, he did do a number of courageous acts both during his military service and in the Senate.  First of all, as a Navy pilot, before becoming a POW, his plane was shot down in July of 1967 when it landed on the deck of the USS Forrestal, inevitably resulting in his having suffered severe injuries as well as causing the deaths and/or serious injuries of more than 300 sailors.  And yet, he, when then given the option of leaving Vietnam, he resumed his duties as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam war.  Later, on a combat mission there, Senator McCain was again shot down by enemy forces while flying a combat mission, and again seriously wounded in another crash, taken prisoner, and then imprisoned in Hanoi Hilton, not exactly a tropical resort for anyone.  Once more, given the option to leave at any time, he remained there until released with the other US captives.  As a US Senator, over and beyond his efforts to help boxing and its fighters some sense of safety, fairness, and dignity (not exactly a popular cause), he co-sponsored a campaign finance reform bill with Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin.  For that act, which, when passed, promoted many principles of democracy, Senator McCain was hated and despised by many of the wealthiest and most powerful people in America.  Finally, In getting back to his decision to pardon Jack Johnson, President Trump is to be commended, regardless of who he is or what else he has ever done.

  25. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:19am, 05/25/2018

    @Balaamsass…These leftoids don’t know the history of “communism” at all and when you don’t learn history, you are doomed to repeat it. The ruse about fighting for the proletariat is even more laughable than this article. The “workers” were abused more than any other demographic in Eastern Europe by an even smaller group of ELITES who usurped power. Try 7-11 million Ukrainian farmers starved, executed or tortured in gulags. These leftist have no idea that the so-called “revolution” was bankrolled by a CAPITALIST NYC banker named, Jacob Schiff.  “Communism” is a murderous form of capitalism on steroids, where you have an even smaller group of elites and an even larger group of the equally poor. Btw, there is a statue of Lenin in Seattle, Washington, but instead of tearing it down, we better get at those Confederates.

  26. Balaamsass 05:24am, 05/25/2018

    Insanity is trying collectivism/communism over and over and over again and murdering millions and millions and millions in the process but firmly believing that it will work this time because you just didn’t do enough murdering all those other times! You fukers didn’t need Trump to unhinge you because you’ve always been bat shit crazy!

  27. Lucas McCain 04:53am, 05/25/2018

    Hard to tell how much damage you can do attacking someone with a fig leaf, but the idea of a transparent fig leaf is kinkier than I want to imagine

  28. Donald Grant 01:41am, 05/25/2018

    There’s not much interest in the writer’s boxing views, never mind his political ones. But, given that this is a boxing site, he should stick to the former. His using Johnson as a fig leaf to attack Trump is as transparent as it is inappropriate.

  29. Ollie Downtown Brown 08:21pm, 05/24/2018

    typo: struck by the car and dying.

  30. Ollie Downtown Brown 08:20pm, 05/24/2018

    hahaha. This piece of so full of dookey, it is downright laughable. smdh. I thought you leftoids hated McCain back in the day, and now all of sudden he is your bestest friend ever. McCain spent decades in Washington not doing much of anything but riding his prisoner of war stint for all it was worth. “Songbird,” wasn’t much liked by his other fellow POWs and for good reason. Sorry but there were many Americans that suffered at the hands of the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and they didn’t break. “Songbird” isn’t special by any stretch.  “Lending moral support to White Nationalists?” Why by condemning both sides at the event in Charlottesville. The event that saw Antifa members clearly instigating the violence and attacking old men and even women. The media even lied about the girl being struck by the car and during. Come to find out the girl died of a heart attack.

Leave a comment