Ex-champ Griffith dies at 75
Emile Griffith, a Hall of Famer who won welterweight and middleweight titles and fought professionally for 20 years, died Tuesday in Hempstead, N.Y. He was 75.
The causes were kidney failure and complications of dementia, said Ron Ross, the author of “Nine … Ten … and Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith,” published in 2008.
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Griffith was most remembered for a fatal barrage of punches in a 1962 televised welterweight-title fight against Benny Paret, a Cuban known as Kid.
Griffith had knocked Paret out to take his championship in 1961, had lost it back to him and was seeking the belt once more. There was tension after Paret referred to Griffith as gay at the weigh-in.
The 12th round of the scheduled 15-round fight at Madison Square Garden in New York was nearing its close when Griffith pinned Paret into a corner and then unleashed a series of blows to the head.
Griffith delivered 17 punches in about five seconds with no response from Paret, according to Griffith’s trainer, Gil Clancy, who counted them from television replays. Griffith might have punched Paret at least two dozen times in that salvo.
Paret collapsed with blood clots in his brain and died 10 days later at a hospital in New York City.
Griffith, who was born in the Virgin Islands, retired in 1977 with an 85-24-2 record. He had batted away rumors about his sexual orientation for years, survived a beating outside a gay bar in Times Square in 1992 and later acknowledged an attraction to men.
“I will dance with anybody,” Griffith told Sports Illustrated in 2005. “I’ve chased men and women.”
Jagr, 41, signs with Devils
New Jersey replaced its best player with the league’s No. 1 active scorer.
Less than two weeks after the defection of Ilya Kovalchuk, 30, back to Russia, the Devils signed 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr to a one-year, $2 million contract.
Jagr split last season with Dallas and Boston, producing 16 goals and 19 assists in 45 games. Jagr, best known as a Pittsburgh Penguin, has 681 goals and 1,007 assists in 1,391 regular-season games. He was the NHL’s most valuable player in the 1998-99 season with Pittsburgh.
NASCAR, NBC have a deal
NASCAR has a 10-year deal for NBC Sports Group to carry the second part of its top-level Sprint Cup Series season, starting in 2015. The multibillion-dollar deal means ESPN, which has the final 17 of the 36 annual races, and TNT (of Turner Sports), which has six summer races, aren’t scheduled to carry Cup events after next year.
Fox Sports broadcasts the first 13 races of the Cup series. In October, NASCAR signed a $2.4 billion contract extension with Fox, also starting in 2015, that runs through the 2022 season.
Mavericks sign Ellis, Wright
The Dallas Mavericks signed shooting guard Monta Ellis, previously with Milwaukee, and agreed to re-sign forward-center Brandan Wright, 25.
Ellis, 27, has a three-year contract reportedly worth $25 million to $30 million. Wright’s two-year deal is worth $10 million and could increase with incentives.
Golden State adds O’Neal
Golden State signed 34-year-old center Jermaine O’Neal, previously with Phoenix, to a $2 million, one-year contract.
• Gerardo Martino, a relatively unknown Argentine-league coach, reached an agreement to guide FC Barcelona — a Spanish powerhouse that features superstar Lionel Messi and is among the great teams in soccer history.
Martino, 50, will get a two-year contract. Tito Vilanova stepped down as Barcelona’s coach last week after a recurrence of throat cancer.
• The United States brings a national-team record winning streak of nine into Wednesday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer semifinal against Honduras at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
• Cappie Pondexter scored 24 points to lead the New York Liberty to a 77-72 WNBA victory over host Indiana. Briann January, who is from Spokane, led the Fever with a season-high 21 points.
• Emirates Team New Zealand routed Italy’s Luna Rossa by the biggest margin yet in the America’s Cup challenger trials and clinched the right to advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup finals.
The Kiwis finished 7 minutes, 14 seconds ahead of the Italians, who were ruled “did not finish” because they weren’t within five minutes of the winners. Team New Zealand took an unassailable 7-3 lead over Luna Rossa on San Francisco Bay.
The Louis Vuitton Cup winner will advance to face defending champion Oracle Team USA in the 34th America’s Cup match starting Sept. 7.
• Lance Armstrong is urging a federal judge to dismiss the Justice Department’s False Claims Act lawsuit against him, arguing the claims are barred by the statute of limitations.
Lawyers for the disgraced cyclist also contend the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Armstrong’s team from 1998 to 2004, got exactly what it bargained for — tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity.
The government claims Armstrong violated his contract with USPS and was “unjustly enriched” while cheating to win the Tour de France. All seven of Armstrong’s titles from 1999 to 2005 were stripped from him last year for doping.
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