They call Pernell Whitaker “Sweet Pea’’ because he was such a slick practitioner of the Sweet Science.
But the former welterweight world champion and 1984 Olympic Gold medalist may have been a sweet boxer, but he is isn’t a sweetheart of a son.
Whitaker, who has battled substance abuse and legal problems for years, has fallen on such difficult financial times that he sued his mother and evicted her from a home in Norfolk, Va., that he bought for her in 1984 so that he can pay his debts. It is the lowest blow that a son can land against his mother.
Whitaker, 50, filed an unlawful detainer against his 73-year-old mother in Norfolk General District Court last month. He has evicted her from the home, and she has to be out by March 31. He plans to sell the house to cash in on an estimated $200,000 worth of equity.
In a brief hearing three weeks ago, Whitaker and his lawyer, Bruce Gould, told Judge Gwendolyn Jackson the former welterweight champions finances are shrinking along with opportunities to work as a trainer.
Whitaker trained Zab Judah for his matches against Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan in 2011. But the two parted ways after that.
Novella Whitaker, his mother, blames her son, while the former boxer blames his mother for unpaid real estate tax bills of $18,000 that could lead to foreclosure.
It was a typical feel good story of a poor young man becoming a multimillionaire athlete and doing something good for his mother when Whitaker bought his mother the brick home in a high-end neighborhood in Virginia Beach near the Norfolk Botanical Garden 30 years ago. But his effort to evict his mother from the home, which has an estimated valued of $370,000, to help pay his own debts has taken an ugly turn.
Whitaker isn't the only member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team to have fallen on hard times and had to sell off a home. Whitaker's teammate, heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, lost his Atlanta, Ga., estate to foreclosure last year.
Whitaker and his lawyer say the only way he can pay the bills is to sell the house.
"He just doesn't have the income to sustain these kinds of losses now," Gould said.
Gould said Whitaker had no other choice than to take the action that he did because no other family members were able or willing to step forward and make the tax payments to keep the home from going into foreclosure. Besides his mother, two of Whitaker’s other siblings and their families are living in the house.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Jackson ruled in Pernell Whitaker's favor and ordered Mrs. Whitaker to move out by March 31.
The former boxer's mother said she is heartbroken, according to a report on 13 News in Norfolk, Va.
"I'm going to survive...I'm a survivor. I'm going with my daughter...she is taking me in," Novella Whitaker said.
Ronyell Whitaker, Mrs. Whitaker’s grandson and a former NFL player, said he would make sure that his grandmother was taken care of.
Whitaker scored another victory, but it isn’t the kind that will have people standing up and cheering for him.
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