Old-timer Emile Griffith may be the only six-time pro boxing champion you never heard of (because he was winning his titles 40-50 years ago). But thanks to a new, authorized biography about Griffith, his name will likely be cropping up in sports media circles (hello ESPN OTL!).
A book called “Nine … Ten … And Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith” is out, and it details what has long been suspected about the boxer - he’s gay.
Robert Cassidy of NEWSDAY (via USAT’s GAME ON) clips a carefully-crafted quote written by Ross from Griffith in the book that might put his lifestyle choice in perspective - at least for people not named Tim Hardaway: “I keep thinking how strange it is … I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. However, I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin; this makes me an evil person. So, even though I never went to jail, I have been in prison almost all my life.”.”
In 1963 Griffith pounded Benny Paret in a match that lead to his opponent’s death.
It has certainly taken some courage for Griffith to come out now. But if he truly cared about the plight of gays in sports, why not do it years ago?
Then again, if Griffith had done that, he would’ve endured more abuse from a far less politically-correct public. And even perhaps not be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (he’s a charter member).
So yes, now the timing is indeed much more favorable for him, especially when it comes to spurring book sales on what otherwise would’ve been an offering with a very short shelf life.