Rubin Carter

Boxer

Born: 6 May 1937
Died: 20 April 2014 (prostate cancer)
Birthplace: Clifton, New Jersey
Best known as:

The boxer whose murder convictions were tossed

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a professional boxer who spent nearly two decades in a New Jersey prison before his murder convictions were overturned by a district court in 1985. He was a teen delinquent who escaped from a boys' home in 1954 and joined the U.S. Army. While serving as a paratrooper in Germany, Carter picked up boxing and quickly made a name for himself with his fast, aggressive style (which is what earned him the nickname "Hurricane"). Back in the United States in 1956, he was captured and jailed for 9 months for his earlier escape, then spent an additional four years in prison for assaults and robberies. Released in 1961, Carter became a professional boxer; he reached his career high in late 1963 and early 1964, when he was a contender for the middleweight title. In 1966 he and a friend, John Artis, were arrested in Paterson, New Jersey and charged with the murders of a bartender and two customers. Both men were found guilty, but the investigation and prosecution was a sloppy mess. He wrote about his conviction in the 1974 book, The 16th Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472, and his case became a cause célébre, reaching a peak with Bob Dylan's 1975 Top 40 protest song, "Hurricane." Carter won the right to a new trial in 1976, but was again convicted. His conviction was overturned in 1985, and prosecutors opted not to pursue a third conviction, nearly 22 years after the original crime. Carter moved to Toronto, where he worked with the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (1993-2005) and founded Innocence International. He died of prostate cancer in 2014.

Extra credit:

Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for portraying Rubin Carter in the 1999 movie The Hurricane.

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