Pernell Whitaker, a nimble Virginia boxer who won Olympic gold in 1984, swept the world lightweight titles and was considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of his generation, died July 14 after being hit by a driver in Virginia Beach. He was 55.
Mr. Whitaker was apparently walking near the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road when he was struck by a vehicle around 10 p.m. Sunday, police said in a news release . The driver remained on the scene, where Mr. Whitaker was pronounced dead. An investigation is ongoing, and further details were not immediately available.
Nicknamed “Sweet Pea,” Mr. Whitaker was an elusive left-hander who regularly slipped away from his opponents, dancing across the ring en route to titles in four weight classes, including as the undisputed lightweight world champion after defeating Juan Nazario in 1990. He also won titles as a light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight.
Mr. Whitaker retired in 2001 with a professional record of 40-4-1 (17 knockouts), and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., in 2007.
“With brilliant hand speed, the elusive southpaw was a defensive marvel who utilized a stinging right jab and straight left hand to score wins over such formidable foes as Freddie Pendleton, Anthony Jones, Jorge Páez , Harold Brazier, James ‘Buddy’ McGirt and Hall of Famer Azumah Nelson,” the Hall said in an online biography.
Mr. Whitaker was 20 when he won gold at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, as an amateur in the lightweight division. He turned pro later that year with a match at Madison Square Garden, and in 1989 was named boxer of the year by Ring magazine.
Mr. Whitaker in 1993, listening to the judges’ decision after his fight with Julio César Chávez. (Bob Daemmrich/AFP via Getty Images) Mr. Whitaker later became a trainer, guiding boxers including Calvin Brock and Zab Judah.
A complete obituary will follow soon.
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