Remembering a true champion: Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker

Bill Tibbs on the tragic loss of Pernell Whitaker


The boxing world was saddened by the news that boxing legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was killed in an automobile accident Sunday night in his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he was 55-years old.


Whitaker, considered one of the best defensive boxers of his, or any, era accomplished pretty much everything that you can in the game.


As an amateur, he was 201-13, with 91 KO’s. He turned pro after capturing gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and went on to win world titles in 4 weight classes. Ring Magazine named him “Boxer of the Year” in 1989. He was then inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006. In retirement, Whitaker had worked as a trainer as well.


Whitaker faced a who’s-who of his era that saw him win titles from lightweight to junior middleweight. In his career, Whitaker faced Azumah Nelson, Jorge Paez, Harold Brazier, Roger Mayweather, Jose Luis Ramirez, Greg Haugen, Freddie Pendleton, James McGirt, Julio Caesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, and Felix Trinidad to name a few.


Whitaker, who compiled a pro record of 40-4-1 with 17 KO’s, turned pro in November of 1984 and retired in April of 2001but he was in his prime in the 80s and 90s.


Peter Joyner of Norfolk met Whitaker when the fighter was about 12 years old and became his confidante and right-hand man throughout his career. Interviewed for his response after the accident, Joyner summed up his career - "He’s done it all. He’s a legend, plain and simple as that. There’s not anything in boxing he didn’t accomplish."


Whitaker is survived by four children: Tiara, Dominique, Dantavious and Devon. He was predeceased by his son Pernell Jr., who died in 2015 after a battle with cancer.


R.I.P. champ.






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