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Emile Griffith

Emile Griffith (born 1938) is a former boxer from the US Virgin Islands who became that area's first world boxing champion by winning the world Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight title. While Griffith is recognized in some boxing books as being a three division world champion, that isn't entirely true: He was recognized as 'world champion' of the Middleweight division only in England.

Griffith, who turned professional in 1958 and campaigned heavily in New York, is better remembered for his third fight on March 24, 1962 versus Benny the "Kid" Paret, where he recovered the world's Welterweight title. Paret and Griffith had boxed a close fight, but in round twelve, Griffith stroke and Paret lay defenseless against the ropes. The referee failed to stop the fight, and Griffith, doing his job, had to proceed and hit Paret 23 times before the fight was finally stopped. Paret by then was unconscious and he never regained consciousness, dying nine days later.

This fight had been broadcast nationally to a live television audience, and boxing at the time was gaining more popularity on all social scales. Because of that, the tragedy became one of boxing's most famous tragedies ever, a lot of fans being of the opinion that seeing a man lay unconscious and getting hit 23 times while unconscious was too much for them. The tragedy has been well documented in books, magazines and fight film shows.

Griffith never fully recovered from it, and some of his trainers have gone as far as declaring that he refused to knock out opponents after that fight.

Griffith later beat Nino Benvenuti for the Jr. Middleweight title, but lost it to Benvenuti in a third fight between them.

Among other boxers he fought in his career, apart from Paret and Benvenuti, were world champions Denny Moyer, Luis Rodriguez, Carlos Monzon, Dick Tiger and Edgard Dagge, against whom he lost in his last title try in Germany 18 years after turning professional.

Griffith retired with a record of 85 wins, 24 losses and 2 draws, with 25 wins by knockout.

He went on to train boxers during retirement, including Wilfredo Benitez and Juan Laporte, both of Puerto Rico, and both of which he helped take to world championships.

Griffith is, along with Monzon, Benvenuti, Rodriguez, Tiger and Benitez, a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.