Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Senators Appreciate Mike Tyson’s Support

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have picked up a curious ally in their push to secure a presidential pardon for boxing legend Jack Johnson.

The two lawmakers have been joined by former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson to encourage President Barack Obama to posthumously pardon Johnson, a black man who was arrested for violating the Mann Act for “transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes.” Tyson started the Jack Johnson petition on

“Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world, is long overdue a pardon,” Tyson writes on the site. “Johnson paved the way for black boxers like me.”

Pardoning Johnson has become a cause celeb in recent years, complete with a YouTube plea:!

And a Ken Burns documentary:

So now add to the mix Tyson, who got some atta-boys from the senators: On April 3 and 4, McCain and Reid tweeted their support for Tyson’s petition.

“One great boxer [Tyson] standing up for another,” tweeted Reid, a former boxer. He also tweeted a photo of his meeting with “the champ.”

The two must have really hit it off, because Tyson tweeted kind words about his “friend” Reid’s memoir, though it appears Tyson thinks Reid might be president, or maybe he thinks the Capitol is at the White House. At any rate:

Picture 15


These days Tyson’s image may be one of a cuddly, face-tattooed, pigeon breeder, but it is worth remembering he has a checkered and violent past, including a rape conviction that came with a prison term. Oh, and he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear, too.

Perhaps this is why McCain tweeted his support for Tyson’s petition less effusively: “Thanks to @MikeTyson for joining effort to pardon Jack Johnson’s racially-motivated conviction- sign the petition.”

We asked both offices about the Reid-McCain-Tyson partnership. Reid’s office didn’t respond.

“I don’t know if I’d call it a ‘partnership,'” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. “Sen. McCain greatly appreciates Mike Tyson’s support for pardoning Jack Johnson and righting a grave historical wrong.”

Got Gossip?

Submit your hot tips and juicy gossip. Send us your anonymous tips here

  • King Bishop

    Justice delayed is justice denied is a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights which are meant to expedite the legal system, because it is unfair for the injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution. The phrase has become a rallying cry for legal reformers who view courts or governments as acting too slowly in resolving legal issues either because the existing system is too complex or overburdened, or because the issue or party in question lacks political favour

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...