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A century later, lawmakers seeking to pardon boxer Jack Johnson

Photo: /AP

Jack Johnson was the first African-American world heavyweight champion, reigning from 1908-15.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers seeking a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, the world's first black heavyweight boxing champion imprisoned a century ago for his romantic relationships with white women, are renewing their efforts.

Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and John McCain joined Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and William "Mo'' Cowan, D-Mass., on Tuesday in reintroducing a resolution urging President Barack Obama to pardon Johnson because he was wronged by a racially motivated conviction.

A similar resolution passed both houses of Congress in 2009, but Obama did not act on it. The Justice Department has told the bill's backers its general policy is not to process posthumous pardon requests.

Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes.

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