Was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker On Drugs His Entire Career?
By: Ken Hissner
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, 40-4-1 (17), held the WBC, IBF, WBA lightweight titles, IBF super lightweight title and the WBC welterweight title.
Whitaker lost 3 of his last 4 fights and within them his win over Andrey Pestryaev, 20-1, on October 17, 1997 was reversed to a ND when he was found to test positive for cocaine. He was given a 6 month suspension for his bout in Foxwoods Resort, in Mashantucket, CT, and agreed to random testing and again was found positive for cocaine. He then entered a drug & alcohol rehabilitation center.
In talking with one of the most prominent Philadelphia boxing trainers he made the remark to this writer “the best boxer P4P ever was Pernell Whitaker. Just think if he hadn’t been on drugs how good he would have been”. I first thought “what is he smoking?” Forget the drugs but we all know “Sugar” Ray Robinson was the best P4P boxer that ever lived.
About a week later at a “signing show” one of Whitaker’s 1984 Olympic team members was there and I told him what I heard. He remarked “Ken, someone took his piss tests after every fight!” The Whitaker showed up late at the signing show and was his usual arrogant self after I asked him “what was your toughest fight” and he replied “all of them!”
We even today have boxers such as Cuban Luis “King Kong” Ortiz and Russian Alexander Povetkin; both heavyweight contenders failing drug tests.
How Should Boxing Fans (And The Media) Deal With The Tyson Fury Situation?
By: Sean Crose
As most fight fans know, Tyson Fury has had a wild past few days. And by wild, I don’t mean of the good time variety. Indeed, the heavyweight kingpin has dropped out of his rematch against Wladimir Klitschko, been outed for testing positive for coke, retired, un-retired, then given a disturbing interview for Rolling Stone Magazine. For the record, I confess to not finishing the interview. The portion I read went from Fury blaming others to Fury pretty much admitting he’s in a world of hurt to Fury claiming he wants to die…and perhaps not necessarily in that order. Forgive me for not completing it.
I’ve noticed this morning that there’s some hard cases out there telling everyone else to shut up about Fury’s condition because, well, not everyone is a doctor. While that might be true, the fact remains that we have eyes to read with and ears to hear with. One simply doesn’t need an advanced degree to pinpoint when a man is obviously going through one hell of hard time. What should those of us who love boxing do with this unsettling situation, however?
Ignore it? Sorry, but it’s kind of hard to ignore the top heavyweight fighter in the world spiraling out of control. Harp on it? I personally don’t think that does anyone any good, either. Let’s not forget the man has a wife and three young children. Yet the general media – as thoroughly unsavory and dishonorable as it can be – has a job to do. Again, this is one of the top athletes in the world we’re talking about here. One simply can’t close one’s eyes and ears while claiming to take the moral high road if one has a perfectly reasonable job requirement to fulfill.
What I think can be accomplished here – and no, it won’t be easy – is for fans and media alike to walk a kind of tightrope. Right now, for instance, we have a heavyweight champion showing self-abusive and erratic behavior. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t have to harp on every instance of “crazy” that comes down the pike from here on in. Perhaps – and, again, I don’t pretend to have the answers here – we can focus on the Tyson Fury saga as it actually develops rather than when it essentially lies dormant.
Such things like Fury losing his titles or completing a stint in rehab would, of course, make the story fluid. As things stand at the moment, however – it’s late Wednesday morning – the story is now stagnant. In other words, we’re just getting more of the same. When something major happens, then we have a right to focus on it. Until then, however, maybe we can keep it all bare bones. They question of what will happen with Fury’s title belts, for instance, is a perfectly legitimate story at this point. As is the future of the heavyweight division – especially regarding Kltischko. The other stuff, however, may be best placed on the back burner for the moment.
One more quick thing:
This shit ain’t funny. Seriously. I know the “party hard” crowd loves to laugh at things like the picture Fury put out there of himself as Al Pacino in “Scarface,” but there’s a tragic element here that undermines whatever humor might be found. If you find this entire situation to be comical, if you think everyone just needs to lighten up, then perhaps you yourself just need to grow up.
Also, Fury deserves our empathy at the moment. Sorry, but I’m not connecting with those “who just don’t feel that bad” for the guy right now because he’s offensive. Might I suggest that such people put their own personal feelings aside for the moment – as well as the feelings of those they’re so sure have been gravely hurt by Fury’s words – and try to find the person beneath the monster they think they see before them. The dude ain’t Hitler. Nor is he Bin Laden, Darth Maul or any other figure who makes for a hyperbolic comparison.
And this is a serious situation we’re watching unfold here.