Retired boxing legend Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, who held world titles at four different weight classes, died after being hit by a car on Monday in Virginia Beach. Whitaker of Norfolk, Virginia, was 55 years old.
According to Virginia Beach Police, they received an emergency call on Sunday night at around 10 p.m. that a man had been hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road. When officers arrived at the scene, they found that an adult male had been hit.
Emergency medical responders tried to resuscitate the man and performed CPR on him but he eventually died. Police later identified the victim as the former boxing legend, Pernell Whitaker.
It was not a hit and run case as the driver of the vehicle did not try to escape but stayed at the scene to help police. Police said they were investigating the incident.
Whitaker’s son told the Virginian-Pilot that the driver probably did not see his father because it was dark and his father was wearing dark clothes at the time.
Fans have been paying tribute on social media.
I am saddened to learn of my good friend and Olympic teammate Pernell Whitaker's untimely passing last night.
We share so many great memories. He was small in statue but yet so big in heart and skills inside the ring, there will never be another like him, he will truly be missed pic.twitter.com/IqmXkqpqkG
— Evander Holyfield (@holyfield) July 15, 2019
On my NY public access TV show “Max on Boxing” (1989-1998), I talked Pernell Whitaker more than any other fighter; it was basically the Pernell Whitaker show. He was the pound for pound best for half a decade, and one of the 3 greatest pure boxers who ever lived. RIP Sweet Pea.
— Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) July 15, 2019
— Robert Littal (@BSO) July 15, 2019
Who is Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker?
Whitaker was a world boxing champion who held lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight world titles.
He won a silver medal in the lightweight division at the Munich World Championships in 1982, and gold at the Pan American Games in Caracas in 1983. He also won gold at the L.A. Summer Olympics in 1984, defeating Luis Ortiz in the lightweight competition.
Ring Magazine named him the best boxer in the world (1993-1997). Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America also named him Fighter of the Year in 1989.
With six title defenses, Whitaker held the record for the longest unified lightweight championship reign in the history of boxing and he is regarded as one of the best defensive boxers ever.
His opponents over the years of his career, spanning 17 years from 1984 to 2001, included Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya. His career record was an impressive 40-4-1, with 17 knockouts. His last fight was against Carlos Bojorquez in 2001. He lost by a technical knockout (TKO) decision.
He was inducted 2006 into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
He worked as a trainer in Virginia after retirement, serving as head trainer to Zab Judah, the former welterweight champion.
TMZ reports that Whitaker appeared with Floyd Mayweather at an event in Virginia on the day before he died.
Parnell is survived by his wife and five kids.