Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker Dies at 55

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2019

10 Sep 1993:  Pernell Whitaker stands in the corner during a fight against Julio Cesar Chavez  in San Antonio, Texas.  Chavez won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein  /Allsport
Holly Stein/Getty Images

Boxing legend Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker died Sunday after being hit by a vehicle while walking in Virginia Beach.

He was 55.

A release by the City of Virginia Beach says Whitaker died on the scene after being hit at 10:04 p.m. ET. The driver remained on the scene and has been cooperative with officers, who say the investigation is ongoing.

No further information is available on the accident at this time.

Whitaker rose to fame during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, winning the gold medal in the lightweight division. He went on to become one of boxing's most prominent faces in the 1980s and 1990s, winning 40 of his first 42 career matches on his way to titles in the lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight divisions.

Nicknamed "Sweat Pea," Whitaker made a name for himself with a sensational defensive style that would frustrate his opponents. There are many who view Whitaker's style as a precursor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

A loss to Oscar De La Hoya in 1997 started the swift decline of Whitaker's career, as he finished his career with three losses and a no-contest in his final four fights. In 2006, Whitaker was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Following his retirement, Whitaker became a trainer, most notably for Zab Judah.

Whitaker is survived by his five children. 

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