Emotional thank you from former boxer granted clemency by Trump


Donald Trump pardoned Duke Tanner after serving 16 years of a 30-year prison sentence, originally a life sentence. The former Gary, Indiana, boxer, was sentenced to life in prison for non-violent drug crimes under Joe Biden’s extreme 1984 crime laws. President Trump granted him clemency on Wednesday.

“They came to my cell and said, ‘We gotta take you.’ I said, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘You’re getting an immediate release,’” he said. “I got to say a prayer and praise God.”

“Make sure that the President knows how grateful I am,” Tanner said in a phone interview. “If you go to my boxing career, the second, third fight (was at the Trump-owned casino) in Gary,” he said. “That’s the same guy giving me my clemency.”


When he was arrested, Tanner was an undefeated light heavyweight boxer from Gary who had been in a televised ESPN fight. Then 24, he was one of the brightest talents to come through Gary’s storied Police Athletic League gym.

For the time being, Tanner said he was headed to Indianapolis to be closer to his son. He wants to eventually get back in the ring.

“The boxing world needs to watch out because I still got it,” he said.


Tanner’s arrest stunned those who knew him as a charming, church-going man many believed had the talent to become a world champion. Tanner, who had no prior criminal record, told FBI agents after his arrest that he had purchased nearly $700,000 worth of cocaine over the summer of 2004 in a series of deals with a supplier who became an FBI informant.

While in prison, Tanner took part in educational courses and completed hundreds of hours of educational programming. He was also part of an 18-month re-entry program that requires recommendations from staff and approval from the warden for participation.

Tanner and four others convicted of drug and financial crimes won presidential clemency. All of the cases pushed by prison reform advocate and Trump ally Alice Johnson, Chicago Tribune reported.


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