"I keep thinking how strange it is ... I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. However, I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin; this makes me an evil person. So, even though I never went to jail, I have been in prison almost all my life."
From the book "Nine ... Ten ... And Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith"
Emile Griffith was a three time World Welterweight Champion. He was also gay, at a time when all gay professional athletes remained staunchly in the closet. Griffith died this week at the age of 75.
Griffith is best known for a 1962 title fight against Benny Paret. In the fight Griffith beat Paret so badly that Paret died 10 days later. In a documentary about the fight called ‘Ring of Fire’ Griffith talked about remarks made by Paret before the fight that may have played a part in the savage beating. In those comments Paret had called Griffith a “maricon,” Spanish for faggot. “When I had him in the corner in the 12th round … I was very angry in the ring,” Griffith said in the documentary. “Nobody ever called me a faggot.”
Griffith had a professional record of 85-24-2. He was the WBA and WBC welterweight champion throughout the Sixties.
His life is the subject of a new opera, "Champion," which debuted in St. Louis last month.
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