Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” reasons, by anall-white jury in 1913.
Sylvester Stallone has won a posthumous pardon from U.S. President Donald Trump for heavyweight boxing legend Jack Johnson.
Stallone has led a campaign requesting Trump use his presidential power to exonerate the late sports star, who died in 1946, and on Thursday the actor joined the President in the Oval Office on Thursday as he officially signed the pardon.
The Rocky star welcomed the decision by sharing a picture of the historic moment, for which Trump and Stallone joined by retired British boxing legend Lennox Lewis and current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, on Instagram.
“Thank you one and all! Justice has been done! Keep punching,” he captioned the image, which was taken from a New York Times article.
Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, as he held the heavyweight championship belt for seven years despite a string of white opponents, each dubbed ‘the great white hope’, attempting to dethrone him. His 1910 fight against former champion James Jeffries was dubbed ‘The Fight of the Century’ – a term later used to describe other major boxing matches.
The sportsman served 10 months in prison following a conviction many view as racially motivated – as his success, extravagant lifestyle and marriages to white women caused uproar at the time.
Trump, who has credited Stallone with bringing the case to his attention, said signing the pardon would, “correct a wrong in our (America’s) history”.
The boxer’s great-great niece Linda E. Haywood has long campaigned for her relative to receive a pardon, but previous presidents have generally used their pardoning power to absolve living individuals.