When it comes to wrongful conviction, there are certain cases that seem to grab the media’s attention more than others. Arguably, the one that grabbed the most attention was that of renowned boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who passed away just this past week.
The story of his conviction and how it was overturned were an inspiration to millions, and punctuated for many how racism was still very much in effect.
Mr. Carter, who recently passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 76, had been a boxer ever since he enrolled in the U.S Army as a teenager. According to Carter, much of his early life, and his decision to become a boxer, was motivated by the fact that he had a bad stutter that mostly prevented him from speaking. According to an interview with him in 2011, Carter said that “people would laugh at me,” until he became a boxer, when “all they would hear would be my fists whistling through the air.”
Carter, a well-known middleweight with the nickname “Hurricane” due to the excessive force of his punches, had his entire life ripped away from him in 1966 when he was arrested along with another black man for the murder of 3 white people in Peterson, N.J.
The men who provided the testimony that sent them to jail later recanted their stories, and Carter was released from prison in 1976. It was one of the first well-publicized stories of wrongful conviction, but making matters even worse, he was sent back for another 9 years after a 2nd conviction, finally gaining his ultimate freedom in 1985 after a U.S District Judge determined that his conviction was racially based.
He will be remembered not only as a great boxer, but also as a poster child and proverbial beacon of light for those who have undergone similar trials, and are currently in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.