Emile Griffith, the former welterweight and middleweight boxing champion who killed a man in a 1962 fight, has died. He was 75.
Born Feb. 3, 1938, in the Virgin Islands, Griffith moved in 1957 to New York, where he won a Golden Gloves title at age 19. He began his professional career the following year.
He captured the welterweight title three separate times from 1961 to 1966. Moving up in weight class, he also held middleweight titles twice from 1966 to 1968. In a 19-year career he was 85-24-2, with one no-contest and 23 knockouts.
“Emile Griffith was a gifted athlete and a truly great boxer,” Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy said on the museum’s website. “Outside of the ring, he was as great a gentleman as he was a fighter.”
The most famous bout of Griffith’s career came in March 1962, when he scored a 12th-round knockout over Benny Paret in a nationally televised fight at Madison Square Garden. Paret, who had taunted Griffith with homosexual slurs before the fight, was battered in the final round, and died 10 days later from brain injuries.
Griffith boxed 339 title-fight rounds in his career, more than any other fighter in history, according to his Hall of Fame biography page. He suffered from dementia later in life, and struggled to overcome Paret’s death, according to Sports Illustrated.
The Canastota, New York-based Hall of Fame will fly its flags at half-staff in Griffith’s honor. Griffith was inducted in 1990.
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