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Boxer 'Hurricane' Carter dies of cancer at 76

IT was an injustice that inspired Bob Dylan to write his final furious protest song about a real-life case at the height of his influence within America's civil rights movement.

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, who died yesterday of prostate cancer at his home in Toronto aged 76, was an up-and-coming boxer when he was accused of three murders in New Jersey in 1966.

Carter was black and the victims were white, as were the two main witnesses against him. They were believed – even though they were carrying out a burglary at the time.

After a racially charged trial, he was found guilty and jailed until his conviction was overturned in 1985.

Dylan's song Hurricane was the end of a line of protest songs about often African-American individuals viciously trampled by the authorities.

"In Paterson that's just the way things go," the singer states in Hurricane. "If you're black you might as well not show up on the street/Unless you wanna draw the heat."

The song was also inspired by the boxer who became a symbol of the civil right struggle: Muhammad Ali.


Carter's travails seemed to link the world of Blowin' in the Wind with the heavyweight champion who refused to fight in Vietnam.

When Ali appeared at the Night of the Hurricane benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in 1975, the confluence was complete.

Hurricane hit the US top 40 in 1975, heralding the release of the Desire album and Dylan's commercial peak.

The dramatic force of his song later helped inspire The Hurricane, Norman Jewison's equally controversial biopic starring Denzel Washington as Carter.