Boxing Legend Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker Dies at 55 After Being Hit By Vehicle In Virginia Beach

Boxing Legend Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker Dies at 55 After Being Hit By Vehicle In Virginia Beach

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker died Sunday after being hit by a vehicle in Virginia Beach, prompting an outpouring of shock, love and condolences from heartbroken fans.


An Olympic gold medalist and four-weight world champion, Whitaker posted a professional record of 40 wins (17 by knockout), four losses and one draw by the time he retired in 2001. He had 214 recorded amateur fights, according to sportreference.com. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sweet Pea
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker of Norfolk, Va., delivers a right to the head of challenger Jake Rodriguez of Central Islip, N.Y., at the Atlantic City Convention Center Saturday, Nov. 18, 1995. Whitaker retained his title with an sixth round TKO over Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Donna Connor)

As a professional, Whitaker was matched against Oscar De La Hoya, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez and Julio Casar Chavez.

Although he lost to De La Hoya and Chavez was a draw, many fans believe he was robbed in both decisions because he clearly won the fights.

Police said the driver of the vehicle that allegedly struck Whitaker stayed at the scene and is cooperating with officers, according to CBS TV affiliate WTKR.

Emergency medical personnel at the scene tried to resuscitate Whitaker, performing CPR, TMZ reported. A family member confirmed that Whitaker had died in the 10 p.m. crash on Sunday.

On Twitter, fans described Whitaker as a favorite fighter of all time and “the definition of science in the ring.”

“Slickest southpaw ever! Rip sweat pea!” @Detresss tweeted.

“Also possibly top 10 in all time of sports nicknames,” @JblazeNYC tweeted.

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Whitaker won an Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, and won gold at the 1983 Pan American Games.

A beast in the ring, he won world titles at four different weights — lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight.

Despite Whitaker’s international fame, fans thought of him as a local legend. “Growing up in nyc i used to watch your show,” @DJSocRat tweeted. “Everybody in the hood (even if you were just a, going to ….house to watch the fight) knew who sweet pea was,” @JblazeNYC tweeted.

In his later years, Whitaker helped inspire, promote and train local boxers, according to WTKR.

Boxing publication Ring Magazine in 2002 ranked Whitaker as the 10th greatest boxer of the last 80 years.