*The International Boxing Hall of Fame says that former world champion boxer, Emile Griffith, has died at the age of 75. He had been in an extended care facility in Hempstead, New York.
The elegant world champion’s career was overshadowed by the fatal beating he gave opponent Bennie Paret in a 1962 title bout that darkened the boxing world. Griffith knocked Paret out in the 12th round to regain the welterweight title; but Paret went into a coma and died 10 days later.
Griffith is said to have described himself as straight, gay and bisexual over the years; and in 2005, Sports Illustrated reported that Griffith may have been fueled by an anti-gay slur directed at him by Paret during the weigh-in. In recalling the days following Paret’s death Griffith told the Associated Press,
“People spit at me in the street. We stayed in a hotel. Every time there was a knock on the door, I would run into the next room. I was so scared.”
This hate and anger turned around, however, later in Griffith’s life, as the boxer regained respect and received an outpouring of love.
“Emile was a gifted athlete and a truly great boxer,” Hall of Fame director Ed Brophy said. “Outside the ring he was as great a gentleman as he was a fighter. He always had time for boxing fans when visiting the hall on an annual basis and was one of the most popular boxers to return year after year.”
Griffith was the first boxer from the Virgin Islands to become a world champion, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990. He headlined 23 fights at Madison Square Garden, and attended many there when he wasn’t fighting.
In his later years, he struggled with dementia and required around the clock care .
As of this writing, there was no word of survivors or funeral arrangements.