The Hurricane lives on

In this Feb 22, 1965 file photo, US boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (R) lands a punch on Fabio Bettini of Italy during their international middleweight match in Paris. Carter beat Bettini by knockout in the 10th round. - AFP

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter should be an inspiration to us all as the gritty boxer took many punches in life and managed to get up when everything seemed lost. 

The trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius or Blade Runner has caught the imagination of sports fans from all over the world. Some have called it the trial of the century for a good reason.  

Here you have an athlete who was recognised around the whole world charged with the murder of his model-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  

The world might have been so obsessed with the trial that they might have missed or overlooked the death of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter last week.   

According to reports, he died of prostate cancer in his Toronto home, aged 76.  

For the uninitiated, Carter was a former middleweight world title contender who was wrongly convicted of murder back in the 1960s before being exonerated. He spent 19 long years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

His prior disciplinary and criminal records could have reportedly swayed the courts to issue him a guilty verdict. He was after all a problem child and reportedly stabbed a man when he was only 11. 

He was sent to a juvenile reformatory but escaped before enlisting in the Army. He was sent to West Germany where he started boxing. He received an "unfitness" discharge before entering the world of petty crime.  

He was in and out of prison a few times for assault and robbery before starting his professional boxing career in 1961.  

He rose up the ranks in boxing and was soon noticed by many. Dubbed “Hurricane” because of his aggressive style and punching power, he managed to get a title shot against Joey Giardello for the world middleweight title in 1964.  

Carter, however, lost on a unanimous decision by the judges in the match, beginning a downward spiral.

His rankings kept on slipping until a triple homicide in 1966 floored him totally. In that case, Carter and an accomplice were picked up by the police.  

He was convicted in 1967 and freed for a brief period before he was reconvicted again in 1976. He eventually won absolute freedom in 1985 where the judge said Carter had been a victim of racism in his conviction.    

There was no more boxing though for Carter and he dedicated his life to the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted where he served as director from 1993 to 2005.  

His story inspired the Bob Dylan song Hurricane in 1975 and a movie with the same name starring Denzel Washington in 1999. 

I remember watching the movie years ago but it did not strike a chord until I read about Carter’s death last week. 

Altogether Carter had a boxing career record of wins, 12 losses, and one draw in 40 fights, with 19 total knockouts. 

He might not have the best boxing record ever, but the fact that this gritty man took many punches in life and managed to get up when everything seemed lost should be an inspiration to us all.  

Rest in Peace Hurricane.     

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. 



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