Saturday, March 24, 1962: Emile Griffith vs. Benny (Kid) Paret

The welterweights meet for a third time in New York's Madison Square Garden in a fight televised by ABC. Griffith and Paret had split their first two fights, Paret having won the welterweight championship from Griffith in September 1961. Paret is brutally knocked out in the 12th round; he dies on April 3.

From a United Press International story published March 26:

Benny (Kid) Paret, beaten insensible in a savage world welterweight championship fight Saturday night, lay in deep coma today. ... The 25-year-old Cuban underwent delicate brain surgery early yesterday at Roosevelt Hospital where he was taken after being knocked senseless under a barrage of blows by Griffith ...
The third Paret-Griffith match was billed as a "grudge" fight because Griffith was incensed when he lost his title to the Cuban on an unpopular decision in the same Garden ring last September. The two battlers almost came to blows during the weigh-in Saturday noon when Paret made demeaning remarks about Griffith's manliness. (Note: Paret had called Griffith a "maricón," the Spanish slang equivalent of "faggot." The New York Times avoided the words "faggot" and "homosexual" in a March 27 story, instead using "anti-man.")
Because of those insults, Griffith, who hails from the Virgin Islands, was fighting mad when the bout started. He grew more furious when Paret floored him for a mandatory eight-count late in the sixth round.
The pattern of the fight, though, soon changed in Griffith's favor and he was ahead on all three scorecards entering the tragic 12th round.
Midway in the 12th Griffith caught Paret with a right to the jaw and the Kid sagged toward the ropes. Griffith then rained right after right to the head of the stricken champion, who was completely helpless but could not fall to the canvas because he was entwined on the ropes.
When (referee Ruby) Goldstein finally threw his arms around Griffith's shoulders and wrestled him into the center of the ring, Paret's knees buckled and he sagged slowly to the canvas, bleeding from the eyes and mouth.
Oxygen was administered to Paret immediately and after five minutes he was carried unconscious on a stretcher to the dressing room and thence to the hospital, where he underwent the operation to relieve pressure caused by blood clots on both sides of his brain.

* "Twenty-five Deadly Blows" (The New York Times, March 24): @
* "The Deadly Insult" (Sports Illustrated, April 1962): @
* "The Shadow Boxer" (Sports Illustrated, April 2005): @
* "Should Boxing Be Abolished?" (Ebony magazine, June 1962): @
* Article by Norman Mailer (Esquire magazine, February 1963): @
* Watch the end of the fight: @
* Watch "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story" (2005 documentary): @

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