*The boxing world lost another great one the other day. And folks I got to tell you something, they don’t come along like this guy did anymore. He had a pretty tough upbringing as a kid being raised in Paterson, New Jersey.
Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter was born on May 6 1937, and died the other day at 76 years of age on April 20 2014 from complications of prostate cancer. He was not someone you’d like to run across in the streets. When he was 11 he stabbed a guy he accused of abusing him. He was in and out of state facilities for dilenquent youths for a period of 6 years before finally escaping to join the Army in which he was dishonorably discharged after only 21 months. He returned to Paterson, New Jersey and in March 1957 he was convicted of three strong arm robberies and sent to prison. It was during this stint of incarceration that he picked up boxing and developed the skills he needed to start a new career.
Fighters weren’t getting paid a whole lot of money in those days and they were going against each other more often than they are these days. ” Hurricane” Carter only got 20 dollars for his first pro fight, and he was fighting almost every month. In these times guys are lucky to get three fights in a year.
As time went on he began to make a name for himself in the ring accumulating a string of victories utilizing that vicious left hook as his secret weapon to knock guys out. He fought against the great Emile Griffith whom he knocked out in the first round and that led to a title shot going against world middleweight champion Joey Giardello in a bout that went the distance of fifteen rounds in which he lost by a unanimous decision. By that time his name was nationally known, in the bright lights, and a favorite on television.
The next chapter in his life took a very dark turn in which he and his best friend John Artis were arrested for a triple murder that occurred. They were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison. For the next 19 years he proclaimed his innocence and filed numerous appeals that resulted in him receiving a new trial and being convicted a second time. After a final effort to win his freedom through another filing of writ of habeas corpus, he was released on bond. His case gained national prominence and celebrities like the great Muhammad Ali spoke out on his behalf, and singer Bob Dylan penned and recorded a song called “Eye of a Hurricane” that told of his struggle to be free..
He evolved in his later years into a fighter for freedom and justice for the wrongly accused, and became the first executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.
His life was developed into a motion picture directed by Norman Jewison and starred Denzel Washington
He spent the last part of his life living in Toronto, Canada where he died with his best friend John Artis at his side.
As a professional fighter he accumulated a ring record of 27 wins 12 losses, and 1 draw, with 19 coming by way of knockout. He may not have been the greatest fighter of all times in the ring, but he certainly evolved into one of the greatest outside of it. May God’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Southern California based Mohammed Mubarak’s Ringside Update column can also be seen in the Pace News, the Inland Valley News, and the High Desert Inland Valley News. Mohammed is a portrait artist as well. He can be contacted at [email protected] for your comments.