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Boxer Emile Griffith comes out as gay

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griffith.jpgFormer welterweight boxing champion Emile Griffith, who in 1962 killed a man in the ring who taunted him as a “faggot,” has finally come out in a new book.

From John Robert Cassidy in Newsday:

Imagine this -- a gay man being one of the greatest professional boxers in the history of the sport. You don't have to imagine it, it's true. Emile Griffith, a six-time world champion and charter member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is a homosexual.

This is hardly news. People in the boxing community have known (or suspected, few ever actually talked about it) of Emile's orientation for decades. It has been confirmed in recent years by other forms of media, but never in the form of a book. Until now. Ron Ross has written, "Nine ... Ten ... And Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith."

I wrote about Griffith following a 2005 documentary about him and we included his story in our book, “The Outsports Revolution.” Griffith, 70, has led a turbulent life, with his homosexuality being a constant backdrop. He has basically been out for years (he once said he wanted to be the marshal in the New York gay rights parade), but in this book he discusses it publicly for the first time. He is said to be at peace with himself by finally telling his story.

In a 1962 welterweight title fight, Griffith knocked out Benny “Kid” Paret in 12 savage rounds, ending the fight by pummeling Paret in the corner with as many as 25 uncontested punches in a matter of seconds. Paret died 10 days later and his death has haunted Griffith since. In prefight comments, Paret had taunted Griffith as 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 “Ring of Fire.” “Nobody ever called me a faggot.”

In the new book, Griffith has this sad but true statement to make about his life as a gay man:

"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."

--Jim Buzinski

Hat tip to Michael David Smith at AOL Fanhouse