Hall of Fame boxer Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker died Sunday night after being struck by a vehicle in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was 55 years old.
Whitaker, who won four world titles in four divisions during his career and also earned a gold metal at the 1984 Olympics, was pronounced dead on the scene at around 10 p.m.
“I guess he was wearing dark clothes, the road was dark and the driver didn’t see him,” Whitaker’s son, Devon, told the Virginian-Pilot.
Boxing Hall of Fame
Known almost universally by his nickname, “Sweet Pea”, a native of Virginia, Whitaker was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his era. In 1987 he earned his first lightweight title belt in 1987 by defeating Roger Mayweather, the uncle of Floyd Jr.
Whitaker was named Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1989 and went on to capture title belts at light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight over a career that spanned more than 15 years.
After a 2001 fight left him with a broken clavicle, Whitaker made his retirement announcement from the hospital. He continued on to become a trainer in Virginia including being head trainer for former welterweight champion Zab Judah.
In 2006, “Sweet Pea” was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Whitaker is survived by his wife and five children.