Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vernon Forrest Gunned Down in ATL

Another sad day for boxing.

This latest incident is coming on the heels of Arturo "Thunder" Gatti's death.

Former boxing champion and U.S. Olympian Vernon "The Viper" Forrest was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking in Northwest Atlanta, a police spokesperson said. He was 38 years old.

APD Lt. Keith Meadows said, during an interview with WSB Radio, "Forrest was putting air in the tires of his Jaguar around 11 p.m. Saturday at a gas station on Whitehall St. at McDaniel Blvd. Investigators said at least two men jumped out of a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo and tried to steal Forrest's car. The boxer had a gun and started running after the suspects."

News reports say the would be carjackers and the three-time world champion both had guns. Police say Forrest pursued the robbers on foot and gunfire was exchanged. It is unclear if any of the suspects were shot.

"The victim and suspect became involved in a brief foot chase," Lt. Meadows continued on WSB. "At some point, gunfire was exchanged between the two of them. The victim was shot at least once in the head."

According to police, Forrest was shot 7 or 8 times by two semi-automatic weapons. Several witnesses were in the area at the time of the shooting, and APD is interviewing them. The shooters were described as black males, and police don't think the suspects knew Forrest was a professional boxer.

At the time of the shooting, the young son of the boxer's girlfriend was in the car. According to Lt. Meadows, family members from Texas are flying in to take custody of the boy. The 11-year-old did not witness the shooting.

Katie Leslie of the AJC caught up with Al Mitchell, Forrest's trainer

“He didn’t take drugs,” said Mitchell, who learned of the news through Forrest’s manager Charles Watson. “He wasn’t involved with gangs. He lived his life the right way. He was a gentleman.”

Forrest beat Ricardo Mayorga in 2003 for the WBC welterweight title and WBA super welterweight title. In 2007, he won the WBC light middleweight title against Carlos Baldomir.

In his last major match-up, in 2008, he reclaimed his WBC 154-pound title at age 37 after battering his rival, 27-year-old Sergio Mora in a unanimous decision.

Mitchell says “The Viper” was training to fight again.

“He told me his plan was to fight again in September and then fight for the title in December,” Mitchell said. “He was supposed to call me this week with details.”

Here's an interview from last year with FOX5Atlanta's Mark Hayes...

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