VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Norfolk native and boxing legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, 55, died Sunday evening after being hit by a vehicle in Virginia Beach.
A family member confirmed to WTKR that the Olympic gold medal winner and four-weight world champion was killed in the 10 p.m. crash.
Police said the driver of the vehicle that allegedly struck Whitaker stayed at the scene and was cooperating with officers.
Whitaker graduated from Booker T. Washington High School before excelling globally as an amateur and professional boxer. Whitaker found a name for himself, along with international boxing recognition, by winning an Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games and winning gold at the 1983 Pan American Games.
His time as a professional saw him fight and become a champion in four different WBC weight classes, including Lightweight, Light welterweight, Welterweight and Light middleweight. Professional bouts for Whitaker included matches against Oscar De La Hoya, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez and Julio Cesar Chavez.
By the time he retired in 2001, Whitaker had a professional record of 40 wins (17 by knockout), four losses and one draw, as well as 214 recorded amateur fights.
In the later years of his life, Whitaker helped promote and train other boxers. He was ranked as the 10th greatest boxer of the last 80 years by Ring Magazine in 2002 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
The investigation into Whitaker’s death is ongoing.
REST IN PEACE CHAMP!
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker pic.twitter.com/gBNKt3gfgS
— Aaron Rouse (@AaronRouseVaBch) July 15, 2019