‘Hurricane’ Blown Over by Cancer


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer who shot to fame more for the crime he had been wrongfully convicted for than for his boxing career, is nearly blown over by prostate cancer.  He spends most of his days in a hospital bed, weighing roughly half of his once-160 pound frame.

Carter, whose story is likely best remembered in the 1999 Norman Jewison film The Hurricane, where Oscar winner Denzel Washington portrayed the fierce boxer.  Carter and his lifelong friend John Artis were convicted for the 1966 triple homicide in a New Jersey bar, though a judge in 1985 recognized the terrible oversights police had made during the investigation and overturned the conviction.  Now 77, Carrter does not appear to have long to live, and continues to fight wrongful convictions.

The Toronto resident founded Innocence International Inc. with Artis, and is currently working to free David McCallum, whom he believes was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Nathan Brenner.  Even while on his deathbed, Carter requested that Brenner’s case be reheard before Brooklyn’s conviction integrity unit under the new district attorney, Ken Thompson.

Ken Klonsky, communications director for Innocence International Inc, says while Carter’s mind remains sharp, his body is terribly deteriorated and he is quite weak.  It is growing quite clear that this Hurricane is about to be blown over by prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a condition that generally has very promising 5 to 15 year mortality rates, though it is clear in Carter’s case his fight with cancer is one that he is losing.  Artis moved to Toronto to care for Hurricane shortly after he learned of Carter’s prognosis in 2011.  He says that Carter tires so quickly that he cannot speak with reporters and because of the painkilling medication he takes, is often incoherent.

This round of cancer that is attempting to blow over the Hurricane is one that Carter has chosen to fight largely in solitude.  He is a man estranged from his ex-wife and children, and because several members of the Canadians – the group who worked on fighting to get Hurricane out of jail – are now estranged from Carter, the ailing former boxer is spending much of his time in bed, resting between bouts of consciousness.

The one who does appear to continue to be on good terms with Carter, apart from Artis, is Washington, who calls the fighter’s Toronto home on occasion to check up on his friend.  Artis said he had hoped a short while ago to drive Carter down to visit the actor, but Carter had taken a turn for the worse, and the trip was cancelled.  Washington had been nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards the year The Hurricane came out.

Even now, though, Carter and Artis work to further the cause of Innocent International Inc.  While Carter is apparently so weak he can hardly sit up for more than moments at a time, he is still doing what he can to free the wrongfully convicted.  Artis notes that perhaps he has stayed the longest in Carter’s life because of their shared prison ordeal.  That said, it seems as though Hurricane, who has been through wrongful convictions and assault charges in the past, will ultimately be blown over by cancer.

By Christina St-Jean


The Globe and Mail

News One

North Jersey

American Cancer Society