Over the years, there have been many boxers that have helped shape the sport to what it has become today. Among those was former lightweight champion Pernell Whitaker, who was widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters during his time in the squared circle. Whitaker was one of the most respected boxers of his time. However, his life took a devastating turn last year as he tragically passed away.
Pernell Whitaker’s Boxing career
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker rose to prominence in the ring during the mid-1980s throughout the 1990s.
Whitaker quickly became a must-see attraction in the sport behind his dominant stretch throughout much of his career. That saw him earn his first light heavyweight title in only his 12th professional fight as he defeated Roger Mayweather. His defensive fighting style helped earn him the recognition as one of the greatest defensive technicians.
Whitaker was not known as a knockout artist by any means with 17 knockouts in his 40 career wins but was an outstanding counterpuncher due to his dominant defensive style. That guided him to become a four-weight world champion that included winning titles in lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight. He still holds the all-time mark for the longest unified lightweight champion reign behind six title defenses. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics.
He also earned the honor of being named Fighter of the Year by Boxing Writers Association of America in 1989. Like most fighters, Whitaker had a rough end to his career dropping three out of his last four fights, including a no-decision after his win against Andrey Pestryayev was taken away after failing a drug test. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away from the tremendous career that he put forth that has earned the wide recognition as being one of the greatest boxers.
Pernell Whitaker’s life after boxing career
Following his retirement in 2001 after his loss to Carlos Bojorquez, Pernell Whitaker stepped into becoming a boxing trainer in Virginia.
Whitaker became enamored by looking to find boxers on the rise to help them reach the next level in their career. He worked the likes of Dorin Spivey, Joel Julio, and heavyweight fighter Calvin Brock. However, his most notable client came with training former welterweight champion Zab Judah.
He did experience bumps in the road in retirement as he had personal issues with drug use. He had been convicted of cocaine possession in June 2002 that saw violate the terms of a past court sentence involving the drug. Whitaker was also involved in a rough situation in February 2014, where he evicted his mother out of the home he bought after becoming a professional fighter.
Aside from that, Whitaker continued to stay in his lane as a boxing trainer over the years, but that came to a crashing halt seeing his life ended tragically.
Pernell Whitaker’s tragic death
Pernell Whitaker’s ordeals aside, he had a tremendous reputation and recognition in the boxing community over the years.
Whitaker continued to remain around the sport in the capacity as a trainer that further cemented his legacy. Things took a tragic turn for the worst in July 2019 as he was involved in a fatal car accident as he was hit by a car as he was crossing the street in Virginia Beach. He was attended to by the paramedics at the scene of the incident but succumbed to the injuries at age 55.
It brought a devastating end to the life of one of the greatest boxers that the sport has ever had that was continuing to impact the generations to come after him. Pernell Whitaker left a last impact in the ring that has influenced the many lightweight and welterweight fighters in the ring following his illustrious career.