Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a former professional boxer who served almost 20 years in a New Jersey prison after he was wrongfully convicted for a 1966 triple murder, has died, The Globe and Mail reported.
John Artis, Carter's longtime friend who was also wrongfully convicted with Carter, confirmed the death in an email to The Globe.
Carter, born in Clifton, N.J., took up professional boxing as a middleweight in 1961. His quick punches and fighting style earned him the nickname "Hurricane."
Prior to his boxing career, Carter had served over four years in prison for assaults and robberies, and spent two years in the army.
Carter and Artis were arrested and charged with triple homicide by an all-white jury during a 1967 trial. The conviction was largely based on the testimony of two local criminals, Alfred Bello and Arthur Dexter Bradley, The Globe reports.
Carter and Artis did not match the descriptions given by witnesses, and they had already been interrogated, given lie detector tests, and released after a grand jury failed to indict them.
Hurricane's plight later became the subject of a popular eight-minute Bob Dylan song, "Hurricane," as well as a film starring Denzel Washington, The Hurricane.
After his release from prison in 1985, Carter became the executive director of the Canadian organization the Association of Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.
In 2011 Carter wrote a memoir called Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom, which featured a foreword by Nelson Mandela.
Later that year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Artis then moved from Virginia to Toronto to care for Carter, who had no family at his side.
Carter continued his advocacy work even in poor health: he sent a letter to the New York Daily News in February demanding the release of Brooklyn man David McCallum, whom Carter believed was wrongly convicted of murder and jailed in 1985 without evidence.
"I am now quite literally on my deathbed and am making my final wish, which those in authority have the power to grant," the letter said.
My single regret in life is that David McCallum of Brooklyn — a man incarcerated in 1985, the same year I was released, and represented by Innocence International since 2004 — is still in prison. I request only that McCallum be granted a full hearing by the Brooklyn conviction integrity unit, now under the auspices of the new district attorney, Ken Thompson.... To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.