Trump pardons first black US heavyweight champion Jack Johnson

President Trump has posthumously pardoned trailblazing prizefighter Jack Johnson — the country’s first black heavyweight champion.

Johnson — charged with transporting a white woman across state lines for “immoral purposes” under the controversial Mann Act in 1913 — spent a year in jail thanks to a racially motivated conviction by an all-white jury.

The World Boxing Council, one of boxing’s sanctioning bodies, invited current and former boxing champions, including Deontay Wilder and Lennox Lewis, to the ceremony, Tim Smith, the vice president of communications for Haymon Boxing told the New York Times.

Johnson's case has been criticized for decades as a miscarriage of justice and a symbol of the systemic racism in the justice system.

RELATED: Boxer Jack Johnson through the years

Boxer Jack Johnson through the years
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Boxer Jack Johnson through the years
CIRCA 1900: Jack Johnson poses for a portrait. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1900: Jack Johnson poses for a portrait. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
Jack Arthur Johnson (1874-1946) boxes with another African American man on a platform outside while a spectator watches. Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion. He fled America in 1912, when he was charged with the Mann Act. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Manager George Little and Jack Johnson close deal for big fight with various promoters, managers and fighters. Jim Jeffries seated at right. Photograph.
Heavyweight boxing champion seems to be getting a ticket while driving on the streets of Philadelphia.
Portrait of world heavyweight champion boxer Jack Johnson throwing a medicine ball while standing in the courtyard of a brick building in Chicago, IL, 1910. Johnson was the first African American to hold this title. An unidentified man holding a coat is standing to the left of the image. From the Chicago Daily News collection. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Jack Johnson, Black heavyweight boxing champion, at wheel of sports car wth his manager, Little. Photograph.
American boxer Jack Johnson (1878 - 1946), the world heavyweight champion, in a boxing stance, early 1910s. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
Boxers Stanley Ketchel (center left) and Jack Johnson (center right) stand in the ring before their famous match, with California boxing referee Jack Welsh (center) standing between the two boxers, surrounded by other industry members, in Colma, California, 1909. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).
(Eingeschr�kte Rechte f�r bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) USA California : 12th round of the heavyweight world championship fight in Colma between Stanley Ketchel (r) and reigning world champion (and subsequent winner) Jack Johnson - 1909 - Photographer: Philipp Kester - Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by Philipp Kester/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
COLMA,CA - OCTOBER 16,1909: Stanley Ketchel (L) throws a punch against Jack Johnson at the Mission Street Arena, on October 16,1909 in Colma, California. Jack Johnson won the World Heavyweight Title by a KO 12. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - UNDATED: 1910 Boxing match between Jim Jeffries vs. Jack Johnson. (Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1909: Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson poses for a portrait. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1909: 3/4 length, standing, facing front; wearing bowler hat and vested suit; thumbs in pockets. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1909: Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson spars with an opponent. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Jack Johnson and Jess Willard are shown in a pre-fight picture in the ring. Undated photograph. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jack Johnson shakes hands with Tut Jackson. Johnson (1878-1946) was the first African American world heavyweight champion, who fled America to France when he was convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1912. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Informal three-quarter length portrait of Jack Johnson, an African American pugilist, sitting in the driver's seat of an automobile in Chicago, Illinois, holding on to the steering wheel, 1910. A cigar is sticking out of Johnson's mouth. An unidentified African American man is standing next to the automobile in the background. Buildings are visible in the background, and snow is covering the ground. From the Chicago Daily News collection. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)
American boxer Jack Johnson (1878 - 1946), the world heavyweight champion, grips an unidentified apparatus, San Francisco, California, early 1910s. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
Jack Johnson, boxer, with his wife and dog in front of their home at 344 Wabash Avenue.
circa 1910: African-American boxer, Jack Johnson (1878 - 1946), he became World Heavyweight Champion in 1908 and defeated a series of 'great white hopes' who challenged him. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Jack Johnson : (1878-1946) American heavyweight boxer with his wife on board a ship. 3/4 Lgth photo.
(Original Caption) Jack Johnson (1878-1946), American Negro heavyweight champion, being decorated with forget-me-nots, the chosen tag of the Music Hall Ladies Guild Orphanage. Undated photograph. (Original caption)
(Original Caption) Leroy Haynes, who promised to hand Primo Carnera a thorough drubbing when they meet in a 10-rounder at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York, May 27, is all ears and eyes as Jack Johnson (left), former world heavyweight ruler and one of the greatest colored fighters ever to perform, demonstrates a few points at Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where Haynes is preparing for the bout.
(Original Caption) Accompanied by his beautiful white wife Irene, Jack Johnson, famous former world heavyweight boxing champion, enjoys luncheon in a restaurant on his arrival in Paris from Brussels, Belgium, where he engaged in a series of wrestling matches.
Jack Johnson, world heavyweight boxing champion, surrounded by pretty showgirls, 1908. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Johnson died in a car crash in 1946.

But his family and other advocates, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have petitioned the Justice Department to move forward with a pardon for Johnson for years.

But a call from Sylvester Stallone spurned Trump’s interest in pardoning the pugilist.

Trump tweeted last month about the possibility of clearing the legendary champ’s name.

“Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted. “...I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Stallone starred in the 1976 boxing film “Rocky.”

Johnson’s prowess in the ring earned him a reputation — and a heavyweight title.

He defeated Tommy Burns for the title in 1908.

His rise to fame came at a time when black and white fighters rarely entered the same ring.

Johnson dominated a series of “great white hopes” over the next two years before beating the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

His life and his legend have been fodder for storytellers for decades.

Howard Sackler’s play “The Great White Hope,” starring James Earl Jones, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play in 1969.

A film version with Jones was released a year later.

More recently, the documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," directed by Ken Burns, was aired on PBS in 2004.

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