He was only twelve when arrested and sent to Jamesburg State Home for Boys after he attacked a man with a Boy Scout knife. Although he claimed it was in self-defense his punishment was to serve six years. But before he served his full term he escaped and joined the army.
While in the army he took to the sport of boxing and went on to win two European championships. With a taste of success he had high hopes for the life he was carving out. However this would be short-lived.
On his return home to Paterson he got arrested and had to serve out his remaining sentence of ten months. Soon after his release this troubled youth found himself arrested yet again, this time for stealing a woman’s purse, he spent the next four years in prison for the crime.
By all means this young man’s life was in shambles, but he used the four years in prison to gain clarity and to focus on who he was as a man. After serving his full term he set out to enter the boxing arena and it was not long until he went pro.
He was tough, focused and fast. He gained the nickname “hurricane” and it seemed he was finally finding his place in society. It was 1966 and he was training for a shot at the world middleweight title. Every arrow pointed towards success and this young man felt as though his second chance at life had arrived.
Then the unthinkable happen, he got arrested yet again, this time for a triple homicide. However he proclaimed innocence.Even though one of the survivors of the shootout was unable to identify him as the gun man, and with little evidence, on June 29th 1967, his career came to end and he recived three life terms in prison.
For most, this would have been the end of the road. But our man is different. Refusing to waiver on his innocence, he would not conform to prison life and rules. He refused to eat the food, he would not allow himself the pleasure of magazines and television and he skipped out on the work he was doing. He found himself in solitary confinement, where he felt safe and could gather his thoughts.
Refusing to ever give up hope on his freedom he began to read, and read, even earning himself a law degree. He soaked up knowledge as a way of keeping his mind sharp and not allowing himself to fall prey to prison life. He was a man who stood for what he believed in and refused to back down.
Twenty-two years later, with his life almost entirely lived behind bars, his case was over turned becuase he was innocent! The men who had been part of the original court battle confessed to lying, and after a twenty-two year fight, he found himself a free man.
He had stood strong for over two decades on what he believed was the truth. They took his freedom but they could not take his will to pursue what he believed in. After his release he went on to serve as director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted. . He also went on to serve as a member of the board of directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and the Alliance for Prison Justice in Boston.
He is Rubin Carter the man who stood for what he believed in. What if he would have given up? His story would have died with him in prison.
If you believe in something, stand for it, no matter what!