Sunday July 26th 2009. Former Boxing Champ, 38-year-old Vernon Forrest was shot several times in the back late Saturday night on the streets of Downtown Atlanta. Fulton County medical confirmed the case was a homicide and that the autopsy showed Forrest died from multiple gunshot wounds involving the torso and thigh.
Charles Watson, the boxer’s manager, said police and witnesses told him that Forrest had stopped at a gas station to put air in his car tire when a man approached asking for money. “Somehow, Vernon had his wallet out and the guy snatched his wallet and started running,” Watson said. “Vernon pursued after him. The guy turned the corner and Vernon didn’t see him. He turned around to go back to the car. That’s when he started firing. ”Watson said Forrest’s 11-year-old godson was with him, but had gone into the convenience store and did not witness the shooting.
The death quickly sent a ripple through the boxing community. Forrest, a native of Augusta, Ga., was a member of the 1992 Olympic team along with Oscar De La Hoya. The fighter eventually won welterweight and junior middleweight titles. He compiled a professional record of 41-3 with 29 knockouts. He was one of the most gracious and charitable fighters in boxing, Those who knew Forrest praised his role in launching the Destiny’s Child group homes in Atlanta, which work to provide homes for the mentally disabled. Forrest was not married and had one son, Vernon Jr. Forrest turned pro not long after the Barcelona Olympics, He won his first world title by defeating Raul Frank at Madison Square Garden for the vacant IBF welterweight belt in May 2001, and less than a year later handed Mosley his first career loss to capture the WBC title.
After taking two years off because of injuries, Forrest embarked on an impressive comeback that included a win over Ike Quartey and a victory over Carlos Baldomir for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. Forrest defended it once, before losing it in a stunning upset to Sergio Mora in June 2008.
There were tentative plans for a title fight against Sergio Martinez, perhaps in October. Plans for an August fight against Martinez were pushed back because of a rib injury, and the delay led the WBC to strip Forrest of his title. His trainer Buddy McGirt spoke to Forrest last week, and the two were planning to return to the gym on Aug. 1. This is the third high-profile death of a boxing champion in recent weeks and it is prominent the legend of Vernon Forrest was cut short due to another selfish act of violence.