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    Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76

    Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76
    April 20, 2014, 3:54 PM ET

    TORONTO -- Rubin "Hurricane'' Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died Sunday at 76.

    John Artis, a longtime friend and caregiver, told The Canadian Press that Carter died in his sleep Sunday. Carter had been stricken with prostate cancer in Toronto, the New Jersey native's adopted home.


    Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts before being wrongfully convicted for murder in 1967 and again in 1976 before being freed in 1985.
    FPG/Getty Images

    Carter spent 19 years in prison for three murders at a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. He was convicted alongside Artis in 1967 and again in a new trial in 1976.

    Carter was freed in November 1985 when his convictions were set aside after years of appeals and public advocacy. His ordeal and the alleged racial motivations behind it were publicized in Bob Dylan's 1975 song "Hurricane,'' several books and a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington, who received an Academy Award nomination for playing the boxer turned prisoner.

    Carter's murder convictions abruptly ended the boxing career of a former petty criminal who became an undersized middleweight contender largely on ferocity and punching power.

    Although never a world champion, Carter went 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts, memorably stopping two-division champ Emile Griffith in the first round in 1963. He also fought for a middleweight title in December 1964, losing a unanimous decision to Joey Giardello.

    In June 1966, three white people were shot by two black men at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson. Carter and Artis were convicted by an all-white jury largely on the testimony of two thieves who later recanted their stories.

    Carter was granted a new trial and briefly freed in 1976, but sent back for nine more years after being convicted in a second trial.

    Thom Kidrin, who became friends with Carter after visiting him several times in prison, told The Associated Press the boxer "didn't have any bitterness or anger -- he kind of got above it all. That was his great strength.''

    "I wouldn't give up,'' Carter said in an interview with PBS in 2011. "No matter that they sentenced me to three life terms in prison. I wouldn't give up. Just because a jury of 12 misinformed people ... found me guilty did not make me guilty. And because I was not guilty, I refused to act like a guilty person.''

    Dylan became aware of Carter's plight after reading the boxer's autobiography. He met Carter and co-wrote "Hurricane,'' which he performed on his Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975. The song concludes: "That's the story of the Hurricane/But it won't be over till they clear his name/And give him back the time he's done/Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been/The champion of the world.''
    God bless Rubin Carter and his tireless fight to ensure justice for all.
    -- Denzel Washington, who portrayed Rubin Carter in a 1999 film
    Muhammad Ali also spoke out on Carter's behalf, while advertising art director George Lois and other celebrities also worked toward Carter's release.

    With a network of friends and volunteers also advocating for him, Carter eventually won his release from U.S. District Judge H. Lee Sarokin, who wrote that Carter's prosecution had been "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.''

    Born on May 6, 1937, into a family of seven children, Carter struggled with a hereditary speech impediment and was sent to a juvenile reform center at 12 after an assault. He escaped and joined the Army in 1954, experiencing racial segregation and learning to box while in West Germany.

    Carter then committed a series of muggings after returning home, spending four years in various state prisons. He began his pro boxing career in 1961 after his release, winning 20 of his first 24 fights mostly by stoppage.

    Carter was fairly short for a middleweight at 5-foot-8, but his aggression and high punch volume made him effective.

    His shaved head and menacing glower gave him an imposing ring presence, but also contributed to a menacing aura outside the ring. He was also quoted as joking about killing police officers in a 1964 story in the Saturday Evening Post which was later cited by Carter as a cause of his troubles with police.

    Carter boxed regularly on television at Madison Square Garden and overseas in London, Paris and Johannesburg. Although his career appeared to be on a downswing before he was implicated in the murders, Carter was hoping for a second middleweight title shot.

    Carter and Artis were questioned after being spotted in the area of the murders in Carter's white car, which vaguely matched witnesses' descriptions. Both cited alibis and were released, but were arrested months later. A case relying largely on the testimony of thieves Alfred Bello and Arthur Bradley resulted in a conviction in June 1967.

    Carter defied his prison guards from the first day of his incarceration, spending time in solitary confinement because of it.

    "When I walked into prison, I refused to wear their stripes,'' Carter said. "I refused to eat their food. I refused to work their jobs, and I would have refused to breathe the prison's air if I could have done so.''

    Carter eventually wrote and spoke eloquently about his plight, publishing his autobiography, "The Sixteenth Round,'' in 1974. Benefit concerts were held for his legal defense.

    After his release, Carter moved to Toronto, where he served as the executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2005. He received two honorary doctorates for his work.

    Director Norman Jewison made Carter's story into a well-reviewed biographical film, with Washington working closely alongside Carter to capture the boxer's transformation and redemption. Washington won a Golden Globe for the role.

    "This man right here is love,'' Washington said while onstage with Carter at the Golden Globes ceremony in early 2000. "He's all love. He lost about 7,300 days of his life, and he's love. He's all love.''

    On Sunday, when told of Carter's death, Washington said in a statement: "God bless Rubin Carter and his tireless fight to ensure justice for all.''

    But the makers of "The Hurricane'' were widely criticized for factual inaccuracies and glossing over other parts of Carter's story, including his criminal past and a reputation for a violent temper. Giardello sued the film's producers for its depiction of a racist fix in his victory over Carter, who acknowledged Giardello deserved the win.

    Carter's weight and activity dwindled during his final months, but he still advocated for prisoners he believed to be wrongfully convicted.

    Carter wrote an opinion essay for the New York Daily News in February, arguing vehemently for the release of David McCallum, convicted of a kidnapping and murder in 1985. Carter also briefly mentioned his health, saying he was "quite literally on my deathbed.''

    "Now I'm looking death straight in the eye,'' Carter wrote. "He's got me on the ropes, but I won't back down.''

    Kidrin said Carter would be cremated, with some of the ashes given to his family. Two sisters are among Carter's survivors, though Kidrin said Carter was alienated from many relatives.

    Kidrin planned to sprinkle Carter's remains in the ocean off Cape Cod, where they spent the last three summers together. Artis planned to bring some of the ashes to a horse farm in Kentucky the boxer loved.

    Kidrin spoke with Carter on Wednesday.

    "He said, 'You know, look, death's coming. I'm ready for it. But it's really going to have to take me because I'm positive to the end.'''

    espn.go.com

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    HURRICANE

    (Music by Bob Dylan, Words by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy)
    1975 Ram's Horn Music

    Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
    Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
    She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
    Cries out, "My God, they killed them all!"
    Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
    The man the authorities came to blame
    For somethin' that he never done.
    Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

    Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see
    And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously.
    "I didn't do it," he says, and he throws up his hands
    "I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand.
    I saw them leavin'," he says, and he stops
    "One of us had better call up the cops."
    And so Patty calls the cops
    And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
    In the hot New Jersey night.

    Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
    Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around.
    Number one contender for the middleweight crown
    Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
    When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
    Just like the time before and the time before that.
    In Paterson that's just the way things go.
    If you're black you might as well not show up on the street
    'Less you wanna draw the heat.

    Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops.
    Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around
    He said, "I saw two men runnin' out, they looked like middleweights
    They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates."
    And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head.
    Cop said, "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead"
    So they took him to the infirmary
    And though this man could hardly see
    They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

    Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in,
    Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs.
    The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye
    Says, "Wha'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!"
    Yes, here's the story of the Hurricane,
    The man the authorities came to blame
    For somethin' that he never done.
    Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

    Four months later, the ghettos are in flame,
    Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name
    While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
    And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody to blame.
    "Remember that murder that happened in a bar?"
    "Remember you said you saw the getaway car?"
    "You think you'd like to play ball with the law?"
    "Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night?"
    "Don't forget that you are white."

    Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure."
    Cops said, "A poor boy like you could use a break
    We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
    Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
    You'll be doin' society a favor.
    That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver.
    We want to put his ass in stir
    We want to pin this triple murder on him
    He ain't no Gentleman Jim."

    Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
    But he never did like to talk about it all that much.
    It's my work, he'd say, and I do it for pay
    And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
    Up to some paradise
    Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
    And ride a horse along a trail.
    But then they took him to the jail house
    Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

    All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
    The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.
    The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
    To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
    And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger.
    No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.
    And though they could not produce the gun,
    The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
    And the all-white jury agreed.

    Rubin Carter was falsely tried.
    The crime was murder "one," guess who testified?
    Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
    And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride.
    How can the life of such a man
    Be in the palm of some fool's hand?
    To see him obviously framed
    Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
    Where justice is a game.

    Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
    Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
    While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
    An innocent man in a living hell.
    That's the story of the Hurricane,
    But it won't be over till they clear his name
    And give him back the time he's done.
    Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

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