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"He Look Like A Sugar in a Plum" A Life in Pictures

“ I came to this country in the 1950s from the Caribbean. I never intended to hurt no one but things happen.”– EMILE GRIFFITH

When Emile Griffith was 11, he ran away from his aunt’s house to Mandal, a home for wayward and orphaned boys on the island of St. Thomas. He stayed there for three years until, as he put it, “my mother[Emelda], she sent for me and that’s all I wanted to hear, I pack my bag and go [to NewYork City.]”

Griffith wanted to design and make hats; his mother wanted him to be a singer. Instead, he would become a six-time world champion boxer. His boss at the hat company, Howie Albert, first discovered his physique and helped him train.

“My left jab was my peacemaker.” – EMILE GRIFFITH

Griffith used the money he made boxing in his first eight fights to bring over his siblings from the Caribbean, and then he bought his mother and family a large house in Queens Village.

Benny “Kid” Paret is pictured in the white trunks and Emile Griffith in the black. Paret called Griffith a “maricón” (a homophobic slur in Spanish) and taunted him at their weigh-in before their fateful fight.

“So I says man, you got to be kidding, you don’t even know me.”– MERCEDES (SADIE) DONASTORG

Emile asked Mercedes Donastorg, or Sadie, to marry him on their very first date. At first she really thought he was joking, but then she agreed. Their marriage lasted just two years.

“I will dance with anybody.” – EMILE GRIFFITH

Emile Griffith met Luis Rodrigo while Emile was working as a corrections officer. Emile felt like he had finally found a friend, and they were happy with each other. Later in life, Emile legally adopted Luis.

“I will dance with anybody.” – EMILE GRIFFITH

Champion. Boxer. Husband. Son. Father. Emile Griffith’s life was more than just that of an ordinary boxer. See it come alive onstage in the Huntington’s production of Man in the Ring.


Avenue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre: 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA: 527 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02116
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