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 is cooperating with officers.
Whittaker graduated from Booker T. Washington high school before excelling globally as an amateur and professional boxer.
Whitaker would find 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 would see him fight and become a champion in four different WBC weight classes including, Lightweight, Light welterweight, Welterweight and Light middleweight.
Professional bouts for Whitaker would include matches against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez and Julio Casar Chavez.
By the time he retired in 2001, Whitaker would post a professional record of 40 wins (17 by knockout), four losses and one draw. All of this on top of 214 recorded amateur fights, according to sportreference.com.
Just as important as his career, Whitaker would help inspire local boxers. He also helped promote and train boxers in the later years of his life.
The boxing publication Ring Magazine in 2002 ranked Whitaker as the tenth greatest boxer of the last 80 years.
Whitaker 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