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Rubin Hurricane Carter: Bob Dylan, Denzel Washington made him icon of injustice

His murder conviction, shrouded in constant controversy, made the middleweight fighter into icon of injustice
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, dead at age 76, became a symbol of racial injustice after spending 19 years in prison for a triple murder he may not have been involved in.

But, if you look past the movie (Denzel Washington played the middleweight contender) and the Bob Dylan song from 1975, the ring record reveals that Carter was not any great shakes as a fighter.

Despite his shocking, first round KO (Dec. 20, 1963) over all-time great Emile Griffith, a bout which Griffith's handlers never sought a rematch for, Carter's overall record reveals him to be a hard-hitting but otherwise pedestrian talent at 160 pounds.

To be fair, Carter did compete in a boxing world unknown to this generation, a world with eight to 10 weight classes and usually only one world champion in each division.

Carter, who succumbed to prostate cancer Sunday in his adopted home of Toronto, had a pro mark of 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts. He also scored a KO 1 over rugged, perennial contender Florentino Fernandez.

When you look at the 11 men who beat him, you get a better idea of the Paterson, New Jersey, slugger's ability and his limitations.

Underrated champ Joey Giardello, who never ducked any of the more fearsome black opponents unlike some of his Caucasian contemporaries, soundly outpointed Carter in their 1964 title bout. The movie implied there was a fix or an injustice to that verdict but the judges saw it 72-66, 71-66 and 70-67, in favor of the champion.

Luis Rodriguez, who had wars with Griffith, beat Carter as did top class Dick Tiger and Irish Joey Archer. Carter did nick a decision over ultra slick Georgie Benton and posted a victory over Jimmy Ellis also.

But, really what does it matter now?

Carter will long be remembered more so as a fighter in the criminal justice system against all odds.
Yes, 11 men (Rodriguez beat him twice) took Carter's measure inside the ring.

But none of them were immortalized in song by Dylan or in film by Denzel.

Speaking of the great actor, I'm reminded of his tour de force in "Training Day," specifically his rant about being "a lamb or a wolf."

In and out of the prize ring, the boxing and court records prove, Hurricane Carter was a wolf and nobody's lamb.



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