By Mark Elezaj
Pernell Whitaker, one of the greatest boxers to step inside the ring, was killed Sunday night when he was hit by a car in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Whitaker was 55.
The Virginia Beach Police Department have stated that the incident remains an active investigation. Whitaker was apparently hit by a vehicle at around 10 p.m. Sunday while walking across an intersection.
“When officers arrived on scene, they located an adult male victim who had been hit by a vehicle. The victim succumbed to his injuries on the scene,” Virginia Beach Police Department spokesman L.M. Bauder said in a statement. “The driver of the vehicle remained on scene with police.”
Whitaker, a four-division champion, was known for his defense and technical excellence.
At 20, he won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Whitaker after signing with New Jersey-based Main Events, won his first world title in February 1989, when out-pointed Greg Haugen, winning the IBF lightweight championship.
Whitaker won world titles in four weight classes. He was the undisputed lightweight world champion and also won titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight. He was considered by many as one of the most dominant forces in boxing for much of the 1980s and 1990s.
By the early 1990s, Whitaker was recognized as boxing’s best, pound for pound by many, if not all who watched him.
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, whose company promoted Whitaker, mourned his death.
“I loved Pernell Whitaker, and he loved me, there was no doubt,” Duva told ESPN.
“He was this person who was only comfortable in the ring. He had demons, but when he was in the ring, that was when he was in control and when he was happy and when he was the very best at what he did, and he wanted to show that to everybody.”
Oscar De La Hoya, his one time rival, paid tribute to his rival.
“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of this great champion, who gave a tremendous amount of joy to those who watched him,
“It was an honor to share the ring with him. In terms of his defense and ring generalship, Pernell Whitaker was the best fighter that I ever fought. On behalf of everyone at Golden Boy, we send our prayers and condolences to his family and friends.”
Whitaker retired following a fourth round, technical knockout loss to Carlos Bojorquez in April 2001. He left the sport he loved, after a 16 year pro career, with a record of 40-4-1, including 17 knockouts and one no-contest.
He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006, as soon as he became eligible.
The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced it will fly its flags at half-staff in Whitaker’s memory.
“From Olympic gold to world championships in four weight divisions, Pernell Whitaker was one of the greatest boxers to ever lace up a pair of gloves,” Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said. “Everyone at the Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning his passing and offers our condolences to his family.”
He is survived by his sons, Devon, Dominique and Dantavious, and his daughter, Tiara. His son Pernell Jr. died in 2015.
~ The Fighting Voice ~