Remembering Trevor Berbick

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 30, 2006

Trevor Berbick

Trevor Berbick

NEW YORK — Trevor Berbick, perhaps most famous for getting knocked out by Mike Tyson and defeating the legendary Muhammad Ali in his final professional fight, was killed in Kingston, Jamaica on this past weekend.

Berbick began his professional career on September 27, 1976 when he knocked out Wayne Martin in the fifth round. Before turning professional, Berbick represented his native Jamaica at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Berbick appeared to be on his way after beating Ali, via unanimous 10-round decision on December 11, 1981. Five years later on March 22, 1986, Berbick was 31 when he won a 12-round unanimous decision against undefeated Pinklon Thomas to capture the WBC heavyweight championship.

Berbick’s title reign lasted only eight months. On November 22, 1986, a 20-year-old Tyson would knock Berbick out in less than six-minutes to become the youngest fighter to win a world heavyweight championship.

Tyson’s performance against Berbick was 1) arguably one of the most ferocious knockouts in boxing history and 2) marked the emergence of the one of the most recognizable careers in sports history.

Throughout Berbick’s career he struggled in his quest to become a superstar. His first title fight occurred on April 11, 1981 against another legend, undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.

Berbick pushed the champion to the limit, but lost a 15-round unanimous decision.

Berbick retired from boxing in 2000 with a career record of 50-11, 33 KO. Berbick was eventually deported following sexual assault, theft, and burglary incidents, and a 15-month prison sentence.

According to ESPN, a 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with the killing. Reports say that Berbick was bludgeoned and left to die in a church courtyard next to his family’s home in a rural hamlet.

Several residents of the remote farming community in Norwich district said the suspect was involved in a land dispute with the troubled boxer.

Les Green, a Scottish detective who this year was appointed assistant police commissioner of the violence-wracked nation, refused to identify the man before his arraignment, which has not been scheduled.

“We have some very good information from witnesses, and we have recovered a weapon we believe was used in the assault,” he said Sunday.

Police would not say if others were suspected of being involved in the slaying of Berbick. Green said detectives were investigating whether a family conflict sparked the attack, but he declined to provide further details.

“A domestic argument may be the root of the attack on Trevor Berbick, and detectives have been working hard on this inquiry,” Green said. “They have interviewed some significant witnesses.”

Investigators arrested the suspect several hours after Berbick’s body was discovered about 6:30 a.m. Saturday in his hometown parish of Portland, about 80 miles east of Kingston.

Berbick, who was believed to be 52, was pronounced dead by a local doctor in the church courtyard next to the three-bedroom house where he was raised.

Detective Sgt. Kenneth Bailey of the Port Antonio police station in Portland told The Jamaica Gleaner that Berbick was last seen alive early Saturday at a nearby bar.

“The body had four wounds to the back of the head, as he was probably attacked from behind,” Bailey told the newspaper. “The impression and damage done to the skull have indicated that a machete may have been used by his attacker or attackers to murder him.”

NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this story.