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Governor John P. deJongh Jr. said today he was saddened to learn the Virgin Islands lost one of its great athletes and ambassadors with the passing of former boxing world champion and 1990 Hall of Fame inductee Emile Griffith. He was 75.
“Emile Griffith was the first Virgin Islander to win a world championship in boxing, and never forgot his roots on St. Thomas. He was charming, hilarious, warm and generous, and his courage in life advanced important civil rights issues,” deJongh said.
“It is so appropriate that many of our territory’s youngsters discover their love of sports at the ballpark in downtown St. Thomas named after our great boxing champion,” deJongh added.
Griffith ended his career in 1977 with a record of 85 wins, 24 losses and two draws, headlining at New York’s hallowed Madison Square Garden on 23 occasions. He passed today at an extended care facility in New York after years of poor health.
On behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, Governor deJongh and First Lady Cecile de Jongh offer their deepest condolences to Griffith’s family and friends.