Legendary boxer Pernell Whitaker dies after being hit by car

'Sweet Pea' was 55

By Jill Martin and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
Simon Bruty/Allsport via Getty Images

In this 1995 photo, Pernell Whitaker stands in the ring before a fight against Julio Cezar Vasquez. Whitaker won the fight.

(CNN) - Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, considered one of the greatest lightweight boxers of all time, died Sunday after he was hit by a vehicle in Virginia, police said.

He was 55 years old.

Officers received a call around 10 p.m. ET about a incident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian, Virginia Beach police said in a news release.

The pedestrian, who died at the scene, was later identified as Whitaker.

The driver remained on site with police, the release said, and the investigation remains active.

"We lost a legend truly one of boxing's greatest Pound 4 Pound champions my father Pernell Sweetpea Whitaker," his son, Domonique Whitaker, wrote in a Facebook post.

An illustrious career

Whitaker, a southpaw known for his defensive prowess, grew up in Norfolk. As an amateur boxer, his record was 201-14 with 91 knockouts. He won Olympic gold at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles and also won gold at the 1983 Pan American Games and silver at the 1982 World Championships.

Whitaker turned pro in 1984 after the Olympics and went on to become a world champion in four different weight classes: lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight.

In his professional career, he had 40 wins (17 of which were by knockout), four losses and one draw. He was recognized by boxing publication Ring Magazine as Fighter of the Year in 1989. In 2002, the magazine ranked him the 10th greatest boxer of the last 80 years.

Whitaker retired from fighting in 2001 and worked as a trainer. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.

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