Sports

Breaking: Boxing Legend 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker Dies in Tragic Accident

Former Olympic gold medal winner and boxing champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker died Sunday night after he was struck by a car.

Whitaker, 55, was hit around 10 p.m. while crossing an intersection in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“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, ESPN reported. “The driver of the vehicle remained on scene with police.”

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The incident is being investigated by the Virginia Beach Police Department, ESPN reported.

Whitaker is considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all time, coming in 44th in a 2012 ranking by Bleacher Report.

In his professional career, which spanned from 1984 to 2001, Whitaker had a career record of 40-4-1 with 17 knockouts.

He won championships in four different weight classes — Lightweight, Light Welterweight, Welterweight and Light Middleweight — and is one of only four fighters to do so, along with Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Whitaker, who is from Norfolk, Virginia, was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Aside from his Hall of Fame professional career, Whitaker was a legendary amateur, winning a Gold Medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics in the Lightweight division.

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Devon Whitaker expressed shocked when asked about his father’s death.

“I guess he was wearing dark clothes, the road was dark and the driver didn’t see him,” the 23-year-old told The Virginian-Pilot.

He said his dad was a “cool guy,” the outlet reported.

“That’s all I can say about him,” Devon Whitaker said. “I can’t really say how I’m feeling because I’m feeling shocked. I’m still trying to process everything that’s going on. But he was a cool guy.”

Whitaker battled drug addiction for much of his life. He suffered a cocaine overdose in 2002 and was convicted of cocaine possession later that year, ESPN reported.

“He had a lot of problems outside the ring and those problems probably cut his career short,”  Kathy Duva, whose company Main Events promoted Whitaker throughout his career, told ESPN. “He was far from a perfect person and a pain in the ass at times, but I still loved him. He was one of the greatest boxers of all time. There’s no doubt.”

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
Location
Massachusetts
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English
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