July 23, 2013 – Former world-class boxer Emile Griffith, who won five titles during the 1960s, died early Tuesday, according to friend and biographer Ron Ross. Griffith was mostly known for his vicious and fatal beating of Bennie (Kid) Paret and later for his frank and pioneering discussions of his own sexuality.
Born in the Virgin Islands, Griffith was 19 when he moved to New York. He had his first big breakthrough by winning a Golden Gloves title a few years later in 1957. The next year he turned professional and scored his first of three welterweight titles in 1961.
On March 24, 1962, Griffith would make headlines for pummeling Benny Paret who celled him a maricon, a derogatory Spanish term for homosexual, according to Sports Illustrated and other news reports. Paret died of his injuries 10 days later. Griffith struggled with his sexuality, never openly admitting he was gay. But in later years, as renewed attention was paid to his deadly fight with Paret, notably in the 2005 documentary, “Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith story,” by filmmaker Dan Klores. Griffith seemed to gain a measure of confidence, even comfort from talking about his sexuality, admitting he had romantic liaisons with both men and women.
Griffith won the welterweight title three times, the middleweight title twice and briefly held the newly created junior middleweight title. He retired with a record of 85 wins (including 23 knockouts), 24 losses and two draws and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. But he was most remembered for the death of Paret. It would unfortunately follow him for the rest of his life.
Emile Griffith fatal knockout of Benny "Kid" Paret (viewer discretion is advised)