Fight still on for Johnson pardon
Updated: July 03, 2010, 17:13
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Organizers of a tribute to the Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries fight will gather Sunday in Reno, Nev., to ring the same bell used in 1910 at the site of the bout, now a metals salvage yard.
They also plan to make renewed calls for a posthumous presidential pardon for Johnson on grounds his conviction for transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes was steeped in the racism of the time.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who sponsored a pardon resolution along with Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he welcomed renewed support for the cause in Reno. He told The Associated Press last month that he remains hopeful President Barack Obama will sign the pardon.
"I know the president, once he looks carefully at this issue, would want to correct a grave injustice done,'' McCain said.
Jeffries' great-great nephew Gary Wurst said he supports the pardon.
"I think it's time for it,'' the 72-year-old Wurst said Friday night at a gala in Reno, Nev. "It would rectify the wrongs of the past. Times have changed so much.''
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former boxer and avid fight fan, helped spearhead passage last year of the resolution urging Obama to grant Johnson a pardon. Johnson, who died in a car crash in 1946, served nine months of a one-year and one-day prison sentence in 1920 after returning from exile overseas.
Asked whether Reid would press Obama to issue the pardon, Reid spokesman Jon Summers replied, "That is a decision for President Obama to make.''