City council votes to support resolution to rename Norfolk boxing center in ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker’s honor

NORFOLK, Va. – In a formal session Tuesday night, the Norfolk City Council voted to support a resolution that will rename a boxing center in honor of a local legend.

The Norfolk Boxing and Fitness Center at Harbor Park will be renamed the Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker Boxing and Fitness Center.

Whitaker was tragically hit and killed by a car while crossing the street in Virginia Beach on July 14.

The Norfolk native was an Olympic gold medal winner and four-weight world champion. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and trained at Wareing’s Gym at the Oceanfront before excelling as an amateur and professional boxer, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1984.

Whitaker was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

“I just want everyone to know that he was an excellent man. Energetic, kindhearted – all the above,” the champ’s youngest son, Dontavious, told News 3 reporter Margaret Kavanagh. “He was a true champion – pound-for-pound champ; you can’t deny him. [He was] a good family man, excellent father, excellent friend to my friends, to his friends – to everybody. Just a good man all around.”

Family, friends and fans said goodbye to Whitaker at a memorial service at the Norfolk Scope on July 20.

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