Norfolk, Virginia news outlet 13News Now reported boxing legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was announced dead at the scene of an accident in Virginia Beach after he was hit by a vehicle.
Per the report Whitaker, an Olympic gold medalist and four-division world champion, was hit after 10 p.m. Sunday night attempting to cross at the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road.
Whitaker was 55-years old, and had recently been involved in boxing as a trainer. The Norfolk native captured Olympic gold at the 1984 Olympics, and fought professionally for the next 17 years before retiring from the sport in 2001. His defensive prowess played a major role in him winning world titles at lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight. He was also named Fighter of the Year in 1989 by both the The Ring magazine and the BWAA. While noted for his outstanding defense, Whitaker stopped Juan Nazario in the first round of their August 1990 bout to become the Lightweight division’s first undisputed champion since Robert Durán.
Prior to being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006 – in his first year of eligibility – Whitaker filled up his illustrious career with accolades including a 1993-1997 reign as boxing’s pound-for-pound champion, lineal champion status in multiple divisions and bouts with legendary fighters Julio César Chávez, Oscar De La Hoya and Félix Trinidad.
The driver who struck Whitaker remained at the scene to speak with the authorities. Officers from the department’s Fatal Accident Crash Team are conducting an investigation, but it’s unknown if the driver will face any charges.