Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight champ

Jack Johnson looks on as Stan Ketchel is counted out in 1909. Johnson, who held the heavyweight title from 1908-15, was convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 of taking a woman across state lines for ‘immoral purposes.’ (Getty Images)
Updated 24 May 2018
0

Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight champ

  • Trump said Johnson, the ‘Galveston Giant,’ was the victim of what ‘many viewed as a racially motivated injustice.’
  • Johnson, whose consensual relationship with a white woman was seen then by many as taboo, fled to Europe but returned in 1920 and spent a year in prison.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, who was sent to prison a century ago in a racially charged case.
Trump said Johnson, the “Galveston Giant,” was the victim of what “many viewed as a racially motivated injustice.”
Johnson, who held the heavyweight title from 1908-15, was convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 of taking a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.”
Johnson, whose consensual relationship with a white woman was seen then by many as taboo, fled to Europe but returned in 1920 and spent a year in prison.
Johnson died in a car crash in 1946 at the age of 68.
Trump signed the pardon at a ceremony in the Oval Office attended by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone, current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Lennox Lewis.
“Today as president, I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously to John Arthur Jack Johnson,” Trump said. “The first African American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter.”
Trump said the conviction “occurred during a period of tremendous racial tension in the United States more than a century ago” and that Johnson had a “very tough life.”
Senator John McCain and other members of Congress and celebrities such as Stallone, who portrayed Rocky Balboa in the movie “Rocky,” have long fought for a pardon for Johnson.
“This was very important to Sylvester Stallone, my friend for a long time,” Trump said.
Linda Haywood, a great-great niece of Johnson, also attended the White House pardon ceremony.
McCain, who has been ailing as he battles brain cancer, welcomed the move.
“This action finally rights a historical wrong, restores a great athlete’s legacy & closes a shameful chapter in our history,” McCain said in a tweet.
During the ceremony, Trump could not resist taking a jab at former president Barack Obama, saying it was “very disappointing for a lot of people” that his predecessor had not pardoned Johnson.
The pardon came just hours after Trump said American football players who refuse to stand for the national anthem “maybe shouldn’t be in the country.”
Most of the National Football League players who have taken part in the kneeling protests against police brutality have been African Americans.
Johnson was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas, and went 78-8 with 12 draws and 45 knockouts.
He took the heavyweight title on December 26, 1908 in Sydney when police stopped his fight against Tommy Burns in the 14th round after Johnson had beaten the Canadian into submission.
Johnson defended his crown nine times, notably in 1910 over former champion James J. Jeffries, who came out of retirement as “The Great White Hope,” in what was billed as “The Fight of the Century.”
Johnson beat Jim Flynn in 1912 in the first Las Vegas title fight, twice defended the crown in Paris, and then lost it at Havana in 1915 when Jess Willard knocked him out in the 26th round of the longest heavyweight title fight ever.


Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

Updated 18 January 2019
0

Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

  • Sharapova dumps out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
  • Rafa and Roger brush aside young guns in straight sets victories.

LONDON: It is coming up to the end of the first week of the Australian Open, so we thought we would take a look and see how some of the big names fared on day five of the year’s first Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova warned she is in the sort of form to win the Australian Open after she dumped Carolina Wozniacki out with an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was the Russian’s best win since her return from a drugs ban and she looked like a winner-in-waiting.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match — she (Wozniacki) is the defending champion,” the five-time Slam champion said.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set. These are the kinds of matches I train for.”



ROGER FEDERER

Ageless Roger Federer marked his 100th Rod Laver Arena match Friday by storming past Taylor Fritz, then looked forward to a “high quality” last-16 clash against another young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 third-round demolition of 21-year-old American Fritz in just 88 minutes of flawless tennis.
Next up is 14th seed Tsitsipas. And the 37-year-old Federer is looking forward to taking on the fiery young Greek, who is 17 years his junior.
Federer played him in the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup, winning a closely contested singles 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), and said he was impressed.
“I think he played really well there. I actually did too. I thought it was really high quality tennis,” Federer said.
“This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, it being a fourth round of a Slam.”



RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal declared “everything is a step forward” after brutally brushing aside Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open Friday in just the Spaniard’s third match since the US Open.
The world No. 2 was in ominous form as he continued his quest for an 18th Grand Slam by punishing the Australian teenager in a third-round tennis masterclass 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me,” said the man who won the Aussie Open in 2009.
“I’m very happy for the victory against someone who had won seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.”
On his fitness Nadal added: “Probably 10 years ago it would have been difficult not playing much tennis in the build-up but now I have been in this situation many times with the injuries I have had.
“I have to deal with the ups and downs of my body but I try to enjoy any moment on the court.”



MARIN CILIC

The former US Open champions was made to work for his place in the last 16 as he struggled to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Verdasco showed glimpses of the form that once made him a top-10 player and had a match point, one he frittered away with a double fault.
I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments,” the sixth-seeded Cilic said.
“(It is) unbelievable. Emotions were up and down,” Cilic said.
“When I was down two sets to none, it was a big hill to climb.”
It’s the seventh time in Cilic’s career that he has emerged to win a match after dropping the opening two sets.



ANGELIQUE KERBER

Second seed Kerber received a gift ride into the Australian Open fourth round for her 31st birthday when she overpowered local wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
The Wimbledon champion swept world No. 240 Birrell aside in just 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
Kerber, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2016, said she was used to celebrating her birthday on the road at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” she said. “I’m getting older but I have the best time here and I’ll never forget my birthdays here in Australia.”
Kerber reached the semifinals last year but lost to Simona Halep in a tight three-setter.