EMILE GRIFFITH was a consummate fighter. He combined speed, aggressiveness and determination to post 85 career victories.
Griffith was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and moved to New York City and discovered boxing. He won a New York Golden Gloves title and turned pro in 1958.
He quickly climbed the welterweight ranks by beating the likes of Gaspar Ortega, Denny Moyer, Florentino Fernandez and Luis Rodriguez. By 1960 he earned a shot at the welterweight title and knocked out Benny Paret in the 13th round.
After Griffith made one successful defense, Paret won back the title in a rematch. Tragedy would beset the third Griffith-Paret bout. Paret was stopped in the 12th round . Following the fight he lapsed into a coma and died 10 days later.
Griffith slowly overcame the emotional trauma of the Paret fight and went on to have a brilliant career. Although he lost the welterweight crown to Rodriguez, he regained it in rematch shortly after.
In 1966, Griffith decisioned Dick Tiger to win the middleweight title. Although he would lose the crown to Nino Benvenuti, he regained the 160-pound belt from the Italian in 1967. Finally, Benvenuti kept the title for good by beating Griffith in 1968.
In his career, Griffith met 10 world champions and boxed 339 title-fight rounds, more than any other fighter in history. He was a staple at Madison Square Garden , where he boxed 28 times. Griffith was the subject of a moving 2005 documentary film, Ring of Fire.
Born: Feb. 3, 1938