Today, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died at 76 years old.
He will be remembered as a fierce middleweight boxer, a man wrongly convicted of murder, for which he served 20 years in prison, and a man who continued to fight the battle of his life from behind bars, in order to gain the freedom that he so rightly deserved.
By his own accounts, Carter lived a life of anger, and took up boxing as a means to control this, and to get over the fact that he was constantly made fun of for having a speech impediment as a younger man. He rose to the top of the boxing world, known for his speed, flurries of jabs (hence the nickname), and raw aggression. His life changed forever when he was arrested and convicted of murder in 1966. He spent 20 years in prison as an innocent man, wrestling with his rage, and with his demons, before deciding to fight for his freedom. Eventually, Carter was released. Reading accounts of the trial depicts racism and a broken legal system, something that Carter continued to fight against for the rest of his life as an activist.
While impossible to imagine losing 20 years of your life for something you didn’t do, Carter was inspirational in his overcoming his anger, and putting together the fight of his life, to clear his name, and to walk the streets again. It is said that every year, on the anniversary of his release, he would telephone the judge who let him go, to thank him for doing the right thing.
Hurricane Carter had one of the most interesting life stories, a sports battle unlike any other.
As for learning more about his life, reading The Sixteenth Round is well worth it, as he tells his entire tale, from his troubled youth, to his time on top of the world in the ring, to his wrongful imprisonment, and eventual release. Reading it in his words is something special, knowing what he was going through, and how he overcame it. We cannot blame him for some of the rage he felt…who wouldn’t? Also, the film adaptation of his life is a worthwhile biographical film. Denzel Washington is at his best in his portrayal of Carter.
A strong man who never broke, Carter should be an inspiration to many.