Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who died from prostate cancer in 2014, is best known for his controversial murder conviction which was overturned and his 20-year legal struggle to be found innocent and released from prison, which was chronicled in books (namely the one he authored, “The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472”), the 1999 film “The Hurricane,” and Bob Dylan’s protest song “Hurricane.”
However, prior to his (and co-defendant John Artis) 1967 murder conviction and life sentence to be served in Rahway State Prison, Carter was a legitimate middleweight contender who had faced some of the best boxers of the 1960s, including hall of famers Emile Griffith, Dick Tiger, Luis Rodriguez and Joey Giardello (who he challenged for the middleweight title in 1964). Viscous first-round knockouts of Griffith and respected veteran Florentino Fernandez established Carter as one of the most fearsome punchers of his era.
Few are as familiar with Carter and his boxing career as veteran referee Ron Lipton, who knew the New Jersey native as a gym mate, sparring partner and close friend. In this two-part edition of Greatest Hits, Lipton provides Carter’s comments on the 12 best fighters he faced during his whirlwind five-year, 40-bout career.
Lipton gathered Carter’s statements over the years. In his own words: "As told to me numerous times in person (prior to his prison term)… and again in person on December 18, 1993 at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas and again on March 25, 1997 before and after our nationally televised interview. I referred to my tapes, notes of direct quotes, and films of our interviews that I saved.”
Part one begins with popular Cuban contender Florentino Fernandez, who the editors of Ring Magazine rated No. 56 among the 100 hardest punchers of all time in 2003, and it ends with the controversial Joey Giardello title bout. It also includes hall-of-fame trainer George Benton, who was a respected Ring-rated middleweight during the ’60s.