Rubin Hurricane Carter

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The Hurricane (1997)
Starring Denzel Washington, Dan Hedaya
inspired by the book "The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender To #45472" by Rubin Carter
Reel Face: Real Face:
Denzel Washington Denzel

December 28,
Mount Vernon,
New York, USA
Rubin Carter Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter
Born: May 6,
Clifton, New
Jersey, USA
Date of Death:
April 20, 2014, Toronto, Canada (prostate cancer)
Vicellous Reon Shannon Vicellous Reon Shannon
Born: 1981
Birthplace: ?
Lesra Martin Lesra Martin
Born: 1963
Queens, New York,
Dan Hedaya Dan Hedaya
July 24, 1940
Brooklyn, New
York, USA
Vincent DeSimone

Vincent J.
DeSimone Jr.

Born: 1918
Birthplace: East
Orange, New
Jersey, USA
Date of Death:
October, 1979

"I'm not in jail for committing murder. I'm in jail partly because I'm a black man in America, where the powers that be will only allow a black man to be an entertainer or a criminal." - Rubin Carter, Penthouse Interview, 1975.

From the Editor: The power of the movie is undeniable. I was nearly drawn to tears when Rubin Carter was given back his freedom at the film's end. I want to fully believe in the Hurricane, but my research and the film's fabrications have planted a seed of doubt in my mind." - K.Lang

Questioning the Story:

Were there really 3 Canadians who helped to free Carter?
Yes. Lesra Martin and the three Canadians really did work to help free Rubin Carter. However, the movie shows them discovering pivotal evidence to help prove Carter's innocence, when in reality this did not happen.

Was Lesra Martin's story accurately portrayed in the film?
Regardless if Rubin Hurricane Carter is innocent or guilty, Lesra Martin's story is encouraging. By age ten, his family had gone from middle class living in Queens to living on welfare in the ghettos of Bushwick. In July of 1979, Lesra hopped on a subway train bound for his new summer job at a Brooklyn environmental lab. He befriended three Canadian entrepreneurs who were visiting the lab. They saw great potential in the then illiterate Lesra, and proposed that he come live with them in Canada where they could assist in educating him. He went, but was discouraged and lacked confidence that he could learn and be smart. He read Rubin Hurricane Carter's "The Sixteenth Round," which inspired him to believe in himself. He wrote to Carter and the two began a long distance friendship, and they remain friends until this day. Lesra went on to graduate as an Ontario Scholar in 1983, received an Honors BA in anthropology at the University of Toronto in 1988, and earned his law degree from Dalhousie Law School in 1997. After articling with a Vancouver law firm, he served as a Crown Prosecutor (similar to a district attorney) in Kamloops, British Columbia. Since the movie, he has embarked on a career as a motivational speaker, and has begun to write a book about his experiences and the negative effects of illiteracy.

Was the detective (pictured above) fictionalized for the movie?

The filmmakers changed the name of the detective from Vincent DeSimone to Vincent Della Pesca. This character was significantly fictionalized for the movie. In reality, Vincent DeSimone had never met Rubin Carter before the murders, and had therefore never hounded or harassed Rubin when he was a child, as depicted in the movie. Detective DeSimone also wasn't alive for the court hearing that set Carter free in 1985. He had died six years earlier.

Was Carter really the number one contender for the middleweight crown when the murders happened?
In 1966, just one month before the murders, "Ring" magazine reported that Rubin Carter had plunged to No. 9 in the rankings. He might have been hoping to re-challenge for the championship, but his record for 1965-'66 was 7-7-1. His career was in a decline.

Did boxing judges really steal the middleweight title from Carter by robbing him of a victory against Joey Giardello as portrayed in the film?
As a result of his depiction in the film, Joey Giardello threatened to sue the filmmakers for defamation. Nearly all of the sportswriters who attended the December 1964 bout agreed that Giardello won handily.

Did Rubin Carter really serve in the military?
Yes. Carter served in the military for 21 months. Unfortunately, he was court marshaled four times, and he was thrown out upon being deemed "unfit for military service."

Did Rubin Carter really save his friend from a child molester when he was young by hitting the molester in the head with a bottle and then stabbing him?
The reality of this is not known. However, other evidence suggests that Carter was not a child hero. The following is an excerpt from the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office brief (1985): "On June 25, 1951, Rubin Carter, at age 14, was charged with Assault and Robbery resulting from the stealing of $55 and a wristwatch from a man who was struck over the head with a bottle. The victim's injury required four sutures." Before he was 22, Rubin Carter had attended reform school, and had been imprisoned for committing two brutal street muggings.

Have Rubin Carter and John Artis (pictured below) ever been found "not guilty" of the Layfayette Grill Murders?
No. The case was tried twice, and each time Rubin Carter and John Artis were convicted of the murders. The convictions were set aside each time however, on the grounds that the men didn't get a fair trial. In the first trial, Alfred Bello, a key witness for the prosecution, changed his story. The state of New Jersey decided not to try them a third time after so much time had passed, and withdrew the indictments against them.

Did Rubin Carter ever pass a lie detector test?
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article (found here) by staff writer Milan Simonich talks about evidence accumulated against Carter by Cal Deal, a reporter who covered Carter's case for two years and changed his own mind about Carter's innocence after interviewing him. Milan writes the following:

"One of Deal's criticisms of Carter is that he tells gullible audiences he passed a lie-detector test soon after the three murders at Paterson's Lafayette Grill, but white prosecutors took him to trial anyway.

Carter, 62, made that very claim Saturday when he appeared at an NAACP event in Pittsburgh.

On his Web site, Deal has reproduced 33-year-old documents purporting that Carter failed a lie-detector test.

Perhaps more compelling are later letters from prosecutor Burrell Ives Humphreys, who offered to throw out the charges against Carter if he took and passed a second polygraph test. This occurred before Carter was retried in 1976. Humphreys said he would dismiss the murder charges against Carter if he was cleared in a lie-detector test administered by an independent expert.

Carter declined the test. He went to trial and was convicted a second time."

What happened to Carter's friend, John Artis?
John Artis served fifteen years in prison for the Layfayette Grill Murders. He was paroled in 1981. He was back in prison five years later, on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a handgun. John Artis is a free man today, and works the lecture circuit with Carter.

How much would it cost to have Rubin "Hurricane" Carter motivationally speak in front of your organization?
According to the Speakers' Spotlight page, Rubin Carter's fee range is +$10,000.

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter Interviews and Related Video
Watch a 1963 Rubin Carter boxing match where he takes on opponent Emile Griffith in Pittsburgh. View interviews and watch a segment that looks at the controversy surrounding Carter and The Hurricane movie.