Forrest, Ex-Boxing Champ, Is Killed
By DERRICK HENRY
Published: July 26, 2009
Vernon Forrest, a former middleweight boxing champion also known for his charitable work, was shot and killed Saturday night in Atlanta. The police said that he had apparently been robbed and then exchanged gunfire with his assailant.
Forrest, 38, is the third prominent boxer to die this month. Arturo Gatti, a super featherweight and light welterweight, was found dead July 11 at a Brazilian resort. Alexis Argüello, a champion in the lightweight divisions, was found dead on July 1 at his home in Managua, Nicaragua. He had been elected mayor of Nicaragua’s capital last year.
Last September, Forrest reclaimed his World Boxing Council title at 154 pounds by beating Sergio Mora, an opponent 10 years younger. Forrest, who had a 41-3 career record with 29 knockouts, had been sidelined by injury and vacated his crown. In 2002, he twice defeated Shane Mosley and was named Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year.
Forrest, who lived in Atlanta, had stopped at a gas station on Whitehall Street in central part of the city to put air into the tires of his Jaguar when a man robbed him at gunpoint, the police said. Forrest, who also was armed, chased the man several hundred feet, toward a nearby intersection. The two exchanged gunfire, Atlanta Police Det. Lt. Keith Meadows told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Forrest suffered seven to eight shots to the back, the police said. Lt. Meadows said there was evidence that Forrest had used his weapon, but the police did not know if the assailant had been shot.
An 11-year-old boy who was in Forrest’s vehicle gave police a description of the assailant. The boy, the son of Forrest’s girlfriend, did not witness the shootings, the police said.
An autopsy was planned for Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
Forrest, a former W.B.C. super welterweight champion, was just as noted for his work outside the ring. In 1998, he started Destiny’s Child, a foundation for people with mental disabilities in Atlanta.
Forrest said he thought of starting the foundation after seeing an autistic child struggle to tie his shoes. “If you sit there and watch a person take about an hour to tie his shoestrings, then you realize that whatever problems you got ain’t that significant,” he said in a 2006 New York Times interview. “A light just turned on in my head.”
The foundation set up group homes in the Atlanta area.
“We teach mathematics and how to count money,” Forrest said in a 2003 Times interview. “We had this one 18-year-old boy to whom all money looked the same. He had trouble with quarters and nickels. Then one day, he said, ‘Uncle Vernon, I got it, I got it.’ ”
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