The Norman Transcript

National Sports

April 21, 2014

Prizefighter Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies

NORMAN — Rubin “Hurricane” Carter never surrendered hope of regaining his freedom, not even after he was convicted of a triple murder, then convicted again and abandoned by many prominent supporters.

For 19 long years, the prizefighter was locked in a prison cell far away from the spotlight and the adulation of the boxing ring. But when he at last won his biggest fight — for exoneration — he betrayed little bitterness. Instead, Carter dedicated much of his remaining life to helping other prisoners and exposing other injustices.

The middleweight title contender, whose murder convictions became an international symbol of racial injustice and inspired a Bob Dylan song and a Hollywood film, died Sunday. He was 76.

The New Jersey native, who had suffered from prostate cancer, died in his sleep at his home in Toronto, John Artis, his former co-defendant and longtime friend and caregiver, told The Canadian Press.

Carter “didn’t have any bitterness or anger — he kind of got above it all. That was his great strength,” said Thom Kidrin, who became friends with Carter after visiting him several times in prison.

The boxer, a former petty criminal, became an undersized 160-pound contender and earned his nickname largely on his 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 1964, losing a unanimous decision to Joey Giardello.

But his boxing career came to an abrupt end when he was imprisoned for three 1966 murders committed at a tavern in Paterson, N.J. He was convicted in 1967 and again in 1976 before being freed in 1985, when his convictions were thrown out after years of appeals. He then became a prominent public advocate for the wrongfully convicted from his new home in Canada.

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