Ex-boxing champ Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker dies in Virginia Beach accident


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Police have identified the man hit and killed by a vehicle late Sunday night as local boxing legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.

Virginia Beach Police were called to the scene of the accident, near the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road, around 10 p.m.

They say Whitaker, 55, was located and it was determined he had succumbed to his injuries on the scene.

Police say the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene after the accident.

The westbound lanes of Northampton Boulevard were closed for over 3 hours while police investigated.

10 On Your Side spoke with local developer and close personal friend of Whitaker, Bart Frye. Frye attended most of Whitaker’s 40 professional fights. “The loss I felt was significant because by a good friend, I mean a really good friend who pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He came from public housing and he actually won his first title at Scope 200 yards or so away from where he grew up in those kinds of times.”

Champion Boxer

Whitaker was born and raised in Norfolk. He began his boxing career at the young age of nine. According to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, of which he is an inductee, Whitaker had 214 amateur fights during his career and won 201 of them. He was the lightweight silver medalist at the 1982 World Championships, earned a Gold Medal at the 1983 PAN American Games and was a gold medalist at the 1984 Olympics. He turned pro in 1984 at Madison Square Garden.

After his retirement from the sport in 2001, Whitaker became a trainer.

In 2007, Whitaker was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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