Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – Middleweight contender Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, whose promising career was derailed after he was wrongly jailed for nearly two decades, died Sunday after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 76.
Carter died early Sunday morning in Toronto, according to his longtime friend John Artis, who had been caring for him and was wrongly convicted of the same crime. He said Carter dropped to 90 pounds due to the disease.
Carter was twice wrongfully convicted in the 1966 killings of two customers and a bartender inside the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, New Jersey.
It wasn’t until 19 years later that a federal judge overturned his second conviction, ruling the prosecution’s behavior was “as heinous as the crimes for which Carter was tried and convicted.”
Carter’s saga inspired a movie of the same name starting Denzel Washington, who earned an Oscar nomination in the title role. Carter’s struggle for justice inspired Bob Dylan’s hit single “Hurricane”.
Before his arrest for the slayings, the New Jersey-born fighter appeared poised for a shot at the middleweight championship.
In 1993, the World Boxing Council (WBC) declared Carter as an honorary champion, acknowledging his lost opportunity and legal triumph.
Carter’s world turned upside down on June 17, 1966, when two gun-toting black men burst into the Paterson tavern and killed three white victims.
A fourth could not identify Carter and his pal Artis as the shooters after cops stopped the two men inside the boxer’s white Cadillac within hours of the shooting.
Carter maintained that racist local cops, jealous of his high-rolling lifestyle and exasperated by his arrogance, wrongly targeted him for the killings.
He and Artis were arrested for triple homicide five months later based on the sketchy testimony of two petty crooks — one named Arthur Bello. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
In 1974, Carter’s autobiography “The Sixteenth Round” — written in prison on an old typewriter — was published. The tale attracted the attention and support of Dylan, Muhammad Ali and Coretta Scott King.