By Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
President Trump granted a rare and historic posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson 72 years after his death Thursday, clearing the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion of racially motivated charges resulting from his relationships with white women in 1912.
Advocates for Johnson — including boxers, historians, academics and senators — pushed for a pardon for 14 years through the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies.
A phone call from actor Sylvester Stallone to Trump helped make it finally happen. “He was treated so unfairly, his prime was taken away, but somehow he managed to keep his pride,” Stallone said in a surprise Oval Office ceremony Thursday.
Stallone, best known for his portrayal of the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, stood among real-life heavyweights, including former champion Lennox Lewis and current champion Deontay Wilder.