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Hudson Valley Press


April 23rd, 2014

Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter Dies at 76



Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (May 6, 1937 – April 20, 2014)

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (May 6, 1937 – April 20, 2014) was an American middleweight boxer who was convicted of murder and later freed via a petition of habeas corpus after spending almost 20 years in prison. Following his release, Carter became an advocate for the wrongly convicted. Despite the court’s decision to release Carter, his innocence is disputed by some.

In 1966, police arrested both Carter and friend John Artis for a triple-homicide in the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey. Police stopped Carter’s car and brought him and Artis, also in the car, to the scene of the crime. On searching the car, the police found ammunition that fit the weapons used in the murder. Police took no fingerprints at the crime scene and lacked the facilities to conduct a paraffin test for gunshot residue. Carter and Artis were tried and convicted twice (1967 and 1976) for the murders, but after the second conviction was overturned in 1985, prosecutors chose not to try the case for a third time.

Carter’s autobiography, titled The Sixteenth Round, was published in 1975 by Warner Books. The story inspired the 1975 Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" and the 1999 film The Hurricane (with Denzel Washington playing Carter).

From 1993 to 2005, Carter served as executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.

Carter was born in Clifton, New Jersey, the fourth of seven children. He acquired a criminal record and was sentenced to a juvenile reformatory for assault shortly after his 14th birthday. Carter escaped from the reformatory in 1954 and joined the Army. A few months after completing infantry basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was sent to West Germany. While in Germany, Carter began to box for the United States Army.

In May 1956, he received an "Unfitness" discharge, well before the end of his three-year term of enlistment. He was arrested less than a month later for his escape from the Jamesburg Home for Boys. After his return to New Jersey, Carter was picked up by authorities and sentenced to an additional nine months, five of which he served in Annandale prison. Shortly after being released, Carter committed a series of muggings, including assault and robbery of a middle-aged black woman. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was imprisoned for the next four years.

After his release from prison in September 1961, Carter became a professional boxer. At 5 ft 8 in, Carter was shorter than the average middleweight, but he fought all of his professional career at 155–160 lb. His aggressive style and punching power (resulting in many early-round knockouts) drew attention, establishing him as a crowd favorite and earning him the nickname "Hurricane." After he defeated a number of middleweight contenders—such as Florentino Fernandez, Holley Mims, Gomeo Brennan, and George Benton—the boxing world took notice. The Ring first listed him as one of its "Top 10" middleweight contenders in July 1963.

He fought six times in 1963, winning four bouts and losing two. He remained ranked in the lower part of the top 10 until December 20, when he surprised the boxing world by flooring past and future world champion Emile Griffith twice in the first round and scoring a technical knockout.

That win resulted in The Ring’s ranking of Carter as the number three contender for Joey Giardello’s world middleweight title. Carter won two more fights (one a decision over future heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis) in 1964, before meeting Giardello in Philadelphia for a 15-round championship match on December 14. Carter fought well in the early rounds, landing a few solid rights to the head and staggering Giardello in the fourth, but failed to follow them up, and Giardello took control of the fight in the fifth round. The judges awarded Giardello a unanimous decision.

Carter felt in retrospect that he lost by not bringing the fight to the champion.

After that fight, Carter’s standing as a contender—as reflected by his ranking in The Ring—began to decline. He fought nine times in 1965, but lost three of four fights against top contenders (Luis Manuel Rodríguez, Dick Tiger, and Harry Scott). Tiger, in particular, floored Carter three times in their match. "It was," Carter said, "the worst beating that I took in my life—inside or outside the ring." During his visit to London (to fight Scott) Carter was involved in an incident in which a shot was fired in his hotel room.

He would be convicted twice before his petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court was granted in 1985. Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted the writ, noting that the prosecution had been "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure," and set aside the convictions.

Carter, 48 years old, was freed without bail in November 1985.

Carter’s career record in boxing was 27 wins, 12 losses, and one draw in 40 fights, with 19 total knockouts (8 KOs and 11 TKOs).

He received an honorary championship title belt from the World Boxing Council in 1993 (as did Joey Giardello at the same banquet) and was later inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.

In March 2012, Carter revealed that he had terminal prostate cancer. At the time, doctors gave him between three and six months to live. Beginning shortly after that time, John Artis lived with and cared for Carter. On April 20, 2014, Carter had succumbed to his illness. (Source:wiki)



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