Boxing legend, pound-for-pound king and one of the greatest boxers ever Pernell Whitaker died tragically at the age of 55 Sunday night The four-weight champion — affectionately known throughout the boxing world as “Sweet Pea”— succumbed to injuries he sustained after being struck by a vehicle in his native Virginia ESPN reports.
The Virginia Beach Police Department said that the incident remains an active investigation but that Whitaker was apparently hit by a vehicle at around 10 p.m. Sunday when he was walking at an intersection.
“When officers arrived on scene, they located an adult male victim who had been hit by a vehicle. The victim succumbed to his injuries on the scene,” Virginia Beach Police Department spokesman L.M. Bauder said in a statement. “The driver of the vehicle remained on scene with police.”
Known as “Sweet Pea,” Whitaker, a southpaw from Norfolk, Virginia, was revered as perhaps the best defensive fighter in history as his slick moves confounded opponent after opponent.
During his storied boxing career, Whitaker won a gold medal in 1984, world titles in four different weight classes becoming the undisputed lightweight champion as well as capturing belts in the junior welterweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. “Sweat Pea” was considered one of the “best pound-for-pound fighters in the world of boxing for half-a-decade in the late 80s to early 90s” as per ESPN First Take’s Max Kellerman who eloquently spoke about the tragic passing of the boxer on Monday taping of the sports debate show.
Speaking with the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Whitaker’s youngest son, Devon Whitaker described his dad as a “cool guy” clearly still in shock from his dad’s passing.
“That’s all I can say about him. I can’t really say how I’m feeling because I’m feeling shocked. I’m still trying to process everything that’s going on. But he was a cool guy.”
Our thoughts are with Whitaker’s family and close friends.
Photo: BOB DAEMMRICH / Getty