Resolution calls for presidential pardon of boxer Jack Johnson

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Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, have joined forces to sponsor a resolution asking the president to pardon legendary boxer Jack Johnson.

Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world; he defended his title July 4, 1910 against “the Great White Hope,” Jim Jeffries.

The fight was in Reno and dubbed the fight of the century. It drew a crowd of more than 20,000.

While he won the fight easily, he was soon in trouble with the law. His relationship with a white woman resulted in a federal grand jury indictment for violating the Mann Act because he traveled with his companion across state lines. He was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison.

“It is now generally acknowledged that Jack Johnson’s prosecution was racially motivated and should never have happened,” said Brower.

He said Johnson, whose style in the ring was years ahead of his time and reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s, had his career wrongfully cut short because of his conviction.

A bipartisan group of congressional representatives including Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has introduced similar legislation at the federal level.

SJR12 will be heard today by Nevada’s Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee.


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