Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker's Death Accidental; Suffered Blunt Force Injuries

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2019

3 Apr 1995:  Pernell Whitaker stands in the ring before a fight against Julio Cezar Vasquez.  Whitaker won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Simon Bruty  /Allsport
Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Legendary boxer Pernell Whitaker suffered "multiple blunt-force injuries" leading to his death at the age of 55 after being struck by a car while walking Sunday night in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

TMZ Sports provided details from the autopsy Tuesday and noted investigators don't believe alcohol, drugs or speed were factors, with one official calling the death a "horrible accident."

Whitaker was a four-division world champion who emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world during his prime, which stretched from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s.

The 5'6" Virginia native had remarkable quickness and nearly unmatched ring awareness.

"He could stand in front of you and you couldn't find him," HBO boxing announcer Jim Lampley told Richard Sandomir of the New York Times on Monday. "He would smile at you and demonstrate to you, while smiling, how remarkably easy this was for him."

Whitaker, known by the nickname "Sweet Pea," managed to become one of the best boxers in history despite suffering from a drug addiction. After retirement, he also survived a cocaine overdose in 2001.

He posted a 40-1-1 record across his first 42 fights before failing to win any of his final four bouts, a stretch that featured three losses and a no-contest. A loss to Carlos Bojorquez in April 2001 was his final match.

His death led to an outpouring of condolences from other the era's other superstars.

Mike Tyson @MikeTyson

I’m truly lost for words to hear Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker is no longer with us. He was a flawless fighter. Condolences to his family. https://t.co/pZZEceN7h2

Evander Holyfield @holyfield

I am saddened to learn of my good friend and Olympic teammate Pernell Whitaker's untimely passing last night. We share so many great memories. He was small in statue but yet so big in heart and skills inside the ring, there will never be another like him, he will truly be missed https://t.co/IqmXkqpqkG

Before his professional career, Whitaker won a gold medal in the lightweight division at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.


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