Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, has died at 76.
He died at his home in Toronto, Canada, his friend and former co-defendant John Artis, confirmed.
The former middleweight boxer spent 19 years in prison for three murders at a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. He was convicted alongside Artis in 1967 and again in a new trial in 1976.
Carter was freed in November 1985 when his convictions were set aside after years of appeals and public advocacy.
His ordeal and the alleged racial motivations behind it were publicised in Bob Dylan’s 1975 song Hurricane, several books and a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington.
Although never a world champion, Carter went 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts, memorably stopping two-division champ Emile Griffith in the first round in 1963.
“I wouldn’t give up. Just because a jury of 12 misinformed people … found me guilty did not make me guilty. And because I was not guilty, I refused to act like a guilty person,” Carter said in an interview in 2011.
Born on May 6, 1937, into a family of seven children, Carter struggled with a hereditary speech impediment which he said forced him to learn to defend himself early on in life.
He was sent to a juvenile reform centre at 12 after an assault on a man he maintained was a paedophile.
He joined the Army in 1954, experiencing racial segregation and learning to box while in West Germany.
Carter boxed regularly at Madison Square Garden and overseas in London, Paris and Johannesburg.
While in prison, Carter wrote The Sixteenth Round, which he sent to several celebrities including Muhammad Ali, who posted bail for carter before his second trial, and Bob Dylan, who wrote the protest song Hurricane to highlight Carter’s plight.
After his release from prison, Carter moved to Toronto, where he served as the executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2005.
Carter’s weight and activity dwindled during his final months, but he still advocated for prisoners he believed to be wrongfully convicted.