Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was a staple in the 757 community and helped put his city on the map as one of the GREATEST lightweight boxers of All-time. In untimely and unfortunate news, the boxer was struck by a car in Virginia Beach, Va at the age of 55. The driver remained on the site with Whitaker and police. No foul play has been involved as of yet. His son Dominique Whitaker made a post on his Facebook not to long after the news broke, “We lost a legend truly one of the greatest Pound 4 Pound champions my father Pernell Sweet Pea Whitaker. “
The Norfolk native was a southpaw and was known for his defensive scheme. As an amateur, he compiled an outstanding record of 201-14 with an impressive 91 knockouts! He won Olympic gold at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles and also won gold at the 1983 Pan American Games and silver at the 1982 World Championships. As for his professional career his stats were even more exceptional. He had 40 wins (17 were by knockout), four losses and one draw. In 1989, Ring Magazine named him Fighter of the Year and in 2002 the magazine ranked him the 10th greatest boxer of the last 80 years. He also is a world champion in four different weight classes, lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight. Whitaker retired in 2001 and worked as a trainer at Powerhouse Boxing and kickboxing in Virginia Beach. He also trained there.
When news broke, many athletes, rappers, and other entertainers expressed their love and condolences and spoke on how great of career he had. Los Angeles Laker great, Magic Johnson tweeted, “Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was in the class of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard as one of the most entertaining fighters in my lifetime. I’m praying for his family during this difficult time. Rest in Peace my friend.” Legendary rapper Nas posted to his Instagram and said “RIP Pernell Whitaker”. The GREATEST boxer of this generation, Floyd Mayweather posted to his Instagram, “RIP champ, one of the best fighters to ever do it. This photo was taken 7/13/19.” And long time boxing announcer Michael Buffer tweeted, “I’m having a hard time dealing with this loss! Pernell was one of the best I’ve ever seen..of all the times I introduced him in the ring it was always best in Virginia Beach..he entered the ring w/a full college marching band once-oh god, it was spectacular! Love You Pete”