Former Olympic and world champion boxer Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker died Sunday after being hit by a car in Virginia Beach, Va. He was 55.
Virginia Beach police announced the accident in a news release Sunday night. The department received a call at 10:04 p.m. EDT on Sunday reporting the accident. Officers arrived to find Whitaker dead. The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene with police.
“When officers arrived on scene they located an adult male victim who had been hit by a vehicle. The victim succumbed to his injuries on the scene,” the police release said.
The department said its Fatal Accident Crash Team was investigating.
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Whitaker was a four-time world champion who grew up in Norfolk, Va. He won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, retired in 2001 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006. Whitaker also spent six years working as a trainer.
Tributes to Whitaker flowed on social media after his death was made public, including a tweet from former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who also grew up in Virginia.
“‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker was our hometown legend and greatest of all-time,” Vick wrote. “My prayers are with his family and loved ones.”
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World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman called Whitaker one of the “most brilliant boxers in the past decade.”
“We have just received the sad news informing us that Pernell Whitaker has passed,” Sulaiman tweeted. “‘Sweet Pea’ was one of the most brilliant boxers in the past decades and he was always a great friend of the WBC.
“We are deeply saddened with this new; May the legend rest in eternal peace.”
Whitaker, who also won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games, had a 40-4-1 career record with 17 knockouts.
Image: Pernell “Sweetpea” Whitaker (R) had a 40-4-1 career record with 17 knockouts. He also won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and beat Juan Nazario in a 1990 WBA/IBF/WBC lightweight championship bout (pictured)