Pernell Whitaker

Getty Images

Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker, Olympic, world champion boxer, dies at 55

Leave a comment

Pernell Whitaker, an Olympic gold medalist and professional world champion boxer, died Sunday night after being hit by a vehicle in Virginia Beach, according to police and confirmed by an NBC affiliate. He was 55 years old.

Whitaker, nicknamed “Sweet Pea,” earned lightweight gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He then turned professional, becoming in the late 1980s and early 1990s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and earning titles in four weight classes.

He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007 and in retirement trained boxers.

In 1984, Whitaker entered the Los Angeles Games as the lightweight favorite after the Cuban boycott meant amateur rival Angel Herrera would miss the competition.

Whitaker went on to win four unanimous decisions to reach the final, where Puerto Rican Luis Ortiz‘s corner ended the fight late in the second round.

Whitaker was part of a decorated U.S. Olympic boxing team in Los Angeles that earned nine of the 12 gold medals, all on Aug. 11, 1984.