In Honor of “The Hurricane”
Four years ago yesterday, we lost one of the most important names in boxing history. Yesterday marked four years since we lost the immortal Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.
Rubin Carter was not so much known for his fighting within the ring but more so his famous fight outside of it. Carter was wrongfully arrested, convicted and imprisoned for almost 20 years for a double murder he did not commit. Carter would be released from incarceration in November of 1985 following a petition for Carter’s release. The Rubin Carter story was made famous on two separate occasions. The first time was in 1975 when Bob Dylan wrote a song named “The Hurricane”. The song depicted the wrongful conviction of Rubin Carter. Secondly, in 1999 Denzil Washington portrayed Rubin Carter in the biopic “The Hurricane”. Denzil Washington would earn an Oscar Nomination for his portrayal.
After his release from prison in September 1961, Carter became a professional boxer. At 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m), Carter was shorter than the average middleweight, but he fought all of his professional career at 155–160 lb (70–72.6 kg). His aggressive style and punching power (resulting in many early-round knockouts) drew attention, establishing him as a crowd favorite and earning him the nickname “Hurricane.” After he defeated a number of middleweight contenders—such as Florentino Fernandez, Holley Mims, Gomeo Brennan, and George Benton—the boxing world took notice. The Ring first listed him as one of its “Top 10” middleweight contenders in July 1963. At the end of 1965, they ranked him as the number five middleweight.
He fought six times in 1963, winning four bouts and losing two. He remained ranked in the lower part of the top 10 until December 20, when he surprised the boxing world by flooring past and future world champion Emile Griffith twice in the first round and scoring a technical knockout. That win resulted in The Ring’s ranking of Carter as the number three contender for Joey Giardello’s world middleweight title. Carter won two more fights (one a decision over future heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis) in 1964, before meeting Giardello in Philadelphia for a 15-round championship match on December 14. Carter fought well in the early rounds, landing a few solid rights to the head and staggering Giardello in the fourth, but failed to follow them up, and Giardello took control of the fight in the fifth round. The judges awarded Giardello a unanimous decision. Carter felt in retrospect that he lost by not bringing the fight to the champion.
After that fight, Carter’s ranking in The Ring began to decline. He fought nine times in 1965, winning five but losing three of four against contenders Luis Manuel Rodríguez, Dick Tiger, and Harry Scott. Tiger, in particular, floored Carter three times in their match. “It was,” Carter said, “the worst beating that I took in my life—inside or outside the ring.”During his visit to London (to fight Scott) Carter was involved in an incident in which a shot was fired in his hotel room.
Carter’s career record in boxing was 27 wins, 12 losses, and one draw in 40 fights, with 19 total knockouts (8 KOs and 11 TKOs). He received an honorary championship title belt from the World Boxing Council in 1993 (as did Joey Giardello at the same banquet) and was later inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.