Heavyweight champ Trevor Berbick found slain

28/10/2006 10:50:57 PM

Former world heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick was murdered in his hometown in Jamaica this weekend by an attacker swinging a machete or a hatchet, police said.

A suspect has been arrested and police say they are interrogating him.
Berbick earned a place in history as the boxer who ended the career of Muhammad Ali, when he defeated the legendary boxer in 1981. He went on to become the world heavyweight champion in 1986, but lost the title to Mike Tyson that same year.

Berbick, believed to be 52, was discovered at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning in a Norwich Village church courtyard with a gaping gash in his head. Norwich Village is about 230 kilometres east of Kingston, police said.
He had been seen at a party Friday night but there were few other details about his death.

Berbick first came to Canada representing Jamaica at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

He married a Montrealer after the Games and the couple moved to Halifax, where he started his professional career, turning pro in 1977. He became a landed Canadian immigrant in 1979.

Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo, himself a heavyweight who fought Ali, knew Berbick well.

"Awkward and clever," he told CTV News. "He was a big strong guy. He punched from funny angles. He was kind of un-coordinated in a lot of ways, but he was still effective enough to get some good wins."
Young boxer Martin Desjardins said: "He was an intense boxer. He gave the crowd good shows."

After winning the Canadian heavyweight title, Berbick moved to Florida in 1984 and signed with boxing promoter Don King.
He defeated Pinklon Thomas to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight title in 1986, but lost the title eight months later to Tyson, then an up-and-coming 20-year-old .

Berbick's career boasted 50 wins, with 33 knockouts. He had 11 losses and one draw.

When he retired in Florida, a series of troubles with the law began. After serving 15 months in prison for a sexual assault against a family babysitter in 1992, the U.S. deported him for violating his parole in 1997.
He returned to Canada, but was ordered deported in 1998 after failing to pay income tax. But in 1999, he was granted permission to stay for five more years by the Immigration and Refugee Board and was able to regain the Canadian heavyweight title.

His professional career ended in 2000 after winning a match against Canadian Shane Sutcliffe. A blood clot was discovered in his brain after the fight and he lost his boxing licence.

He moved back to the United States, but was deported again in 2002, when he returned to Jamaica.

Berbick has three children from his first marriage in Canada and three more from his second marriage in Florida.

Chuvalo will remember Berbick this way: "He was a one-time heavyweight champion of the world. That's a big plus."

With a report from CTV's Rosemary Thompson and files from The Associated Press and the Canadian Press