"Hurricane" Carter dies

21/04/2014 09:16

Former boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, has died, aged 76.

His long time friend and caregiver John Artis said Carter , who had  had been stricken with prostate cancer, died in his sleep on Sunday (20 April).

Carter's murder convictions abruptly ended the boxing career of a former petty criminal who became an undersized middleweight contender largely on ferocity and punching power.

Although never a world champion, Carter went 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts, memorably stopping two-division champ Emile Griffith in the first round in 1963. He also fought for a middleweight title in December 1964, losing a unanimous decision to Joey Giardello.

In June 1966, three white people were shot by two black men at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson. Carter and Artis were convicted by an all-white jury largely on the testimony of two thieves.

Carter was granted a new trial and briefly freed in 1976, but sent back for nine more years after being convicted in a second trial.

Years of appeals and public advocacy followed, and Carter became an international symbol of racial injustice.

High profile friends including boxing legend Muhammad Ali, called for Carter's release from prison and his plight inspired Bob Dylan's 1975 song Hurricane.

After the two key witnesses in the case recanted their stories, Carter was freed in 1985.

He said: "I wouldn't give up. Just because a jury of 12 misinformed people ... found me guilty did not make me guilty. And because I was not guilty, I refused to act like a guilty person."

Carter's story was portrayed in a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington, also titled Hurricane, winning Washington an Academy Award nomination.

His boxing career over, Carter moved to Toronto, where he served as the executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2005.

He continued to advocate for prisoners he believed to be wrongfully convicted until his death.