Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a former middleweight boxer best known for having been wrongfully convicted for a shooting murder, passed away at his Toronto home Sunday morning. He was 76.
Carter had spent almost 20 years in prison after being convicted of a triple homicide that occurred at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey in 1966. The conviction was overturned in 1985, and from 1993 to 2005, Carter served as executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. Carter had also formed the nonprofit organization Innocence International in Toronto, which likewise worked to help free wrongly convicted prisoners. Carter had been battling prostate cancer at the time of his death.
Carter became a professional boxed in 1961, after serving stints in various institutions for crimes including muggings and for receiving an “undesirable” discharge from the U.S. Army, after failing to complete his three-year term of enlistment. While a bit shorter than the average middleweight fighter at 5 ft. 8 in., in the ring Carter was known for his ferocity, often resulting in early-round knockouts. He was a charismatic crowd-pleaser, and was remembered for his goatee, shaved head, mean mugging and a powerful left hook.
Bob Dylan wrote a song about Carter in 1975 called Hurricane, and in 1999 director Norman Jewison filmed a biopic entitled The Hurricane, which was Golden Globe-nominated for Best Motion Picture. Denzel Washington played the role of Carter, which garnered him an Oscar nomination.
Here is the trailer:
While in prison, Carter penned his autobiography, The 16th Round, which was published in 1974. The book related the events surrounding his 1966 arrest. Holes in the case included little physical evidence and the fact that police took no fingerprints at the crime scene or any paraffin test for gunshot residue. No eyewitnesses pointed to Carter as a shooter. Still, he was convicted in 1967 and 1976 for the murders regardless, though both jury verdicts were overturned on various grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. After the second conviction was overturned in 1985, prosecutors chose not to try the case for a third time.
Carter is remembered on Twitter:
RIP Hurricane Carter…
— Mac Danzig (@macdanzigmma) April 20, 2014
Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dead at 76. Boxer became an advocate for the wrongly convicted http://t.co/6kjzgk86J1 pic.twitter.com/0Wh8CoAjcg
— KHARY PENEBAKER (@kharyp) April 20, 2014
Hurricane Carter defeated Joe "Axe Killer" Ngidi on a tko in Joburg in 1965, a year before he was sent to jail for murders he didn't commit
— Barney Mthombothi (@mthombothi) April 20, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons