The story behind the man they call The "Hurricane"

By Ryan M
St. Stephen High School
St. Stephen, New Brunswick

Who is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter? Well, until Denzel Washington did a movie about him I had no idea, although by his name I would have guessed a boxer.

Rubin Carter's story is so much different than what I would have assumed. He was an incredible boxer whose career was ruined by racism.

Denzel Washington as
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

Carter was born on May 6, 1937 in Clifton, New Jersey. When he was 12 he was arrested and sent to the Jamesburg State Home for Boys because he attacked a man with a Boy Scout's knife. Carter said that the man was a pedophile that was attempting to molest one of his friends. He escaped for the home before his six-year sentence was up and in 1954 he joined the Army, where he began training as a boxer.

Before Carter returned to New Jersey in 1956, he had won two European light-welterweight championships. In 1957, he was arrested for purse snatching, and he spent four years in Trenton State Prison. When he was released he spent all of his time training as a boxer, and in 1961 he turned pro. Because of Carter's lighting fast fists he earned the nickname "Hurricane".

On June 17, 1966 Carter and his friend John Artis were arrested for a triple murder because they fit the description of "two Negroes in a white car". Both Carter and Artis were cleared by a grand jury when the only eyewitness couldn't identify either men. But the state prosecutor produced two other eyewitnesses, who made positive identifications.

During the trial the prosecution produced little evidence linking Carter and Artis to the murders, and the only eyewitnesses were criminals who received money and a reduced sentence for their testimony. But even for this, the all-white jury convicted Carter and Artis on June 29, 1967. Artis was a model prisoner and was released in 1981.

While Carter was at Trenton State and Rahway State prisons he wrote his book "The 16th Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472". This book sparked an interest in teenager, Lesra Martin, who started writing to Carter. Martin lived with a group of Canadians who had taken on the responsibility for his education.

Martin's benefactors soon also developed a relationship with Carter and began their efforts to free him. In 1983, they began working with Carter's defence team, and on November 7, 1985 United States District Court Judge H. Lee Sarokin ruled that Carter was innocent.

After Carter was released, he moved to Toronto and into the home of the group that worked for his release. In 1993 the World Boxing Council gave him an honorary championship title belt, and he is now the director of the Association in Defense of Wrongfully Convicted.