Remembering Vernon “The Viper” Forrest, R.I.P.
Vernon “The Viper” Forrest was a stellar professional boxer from 1992 -2009 until his untimely death on July 25, 2009. Forrest became a world champion in the Welterweight and Light Middleweight divisions. Most notable for his two fights with Shane Mosley; Vernon Forrest was much more than a fighter. He was a charitable and determined individual that made him a champion inside and outside the ring.
Vernon Forrest began boxing at the tender age of 9. More notably he compiled a 225-16 record as an amateur boxer. In 1991 he was able to nab the silver medal at the 1991 World Amateur Boxing Championships. Forrest was the first in his family to graduate high school where he received his diploma from Marquette Senior High School in Marquette, MI. Vernon Forrest was able to obtain a scholarship to Northern Michigan University where he majored in business administration. Determined, Forrest continued to train extensively with the US National Team under head coach Al Mitchell.
“The Viper” left college only to fulfill his Olympic dreams. Forrest was a member of the 1992 US Olympic team that competed in Barcelona, Spain. His Olympic berth began by beating future world champion Shane Mosley in the trials. After his win against Mosley, Forrest was favored to win the gold medal heading into the finals. Unfortunately, Vernon Forrest succumbed to food poisoning a day before his final match. Forrest lost to Peter Richardson; and with this loss headed to Las Vegas and turned professional with a 225-16 record as an amateur.
“The Viper” strikes…
In his first professional fight, “The Viper” struck fast and earned a first round TKO against Charles Hawkins. Starting in January 1993, Forrest was able to burn through all the competition and win a few minor belts. By August of 2000, Forrest has an impeccable 30-0 record with 25 knockouts. His big break came where he would fight against Raul Frank for the vacant IBF Welterweight title. However, an accidental head butt caused the bout to be ruled as a no-contest in round three.
Vernon Forrest once again met Raul Frank for a rematch at the famed Madison Square Garden’s in NY. In front of a sizable crowd, “The Viper” struck quickly and dominated the fight, as Raul Frank was constantly on the defensive. Vernon Forrest won the contest by a lopsided unanimous decision and earned the IBF Welterweight title.
Forrest VS Mosley I & II
In January of 2002, Forrest fought Mosley for the WBC Welterweight title in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden’s. Shane Mosley was clearly regarded as the best Welterweight in the world at the time; and betting was in Mosley’s favor by a wide margin. However, the determined Forrest was relentless landing two and three punch combinations against Mosley. Forrest continued to sting Shane Mosley and was able to drop him twice in the second round from a three punch combination. Vernon Forrest won a one-sided unanimous decision, and yanked the title from Mosley and Ring Magazines championship of the world.
Later that year in July, Vernon Forrest once again defeated Mosley via unanimous decision. Shane Mosley was never able to control the pace of the fight. Vernon Forrest struck, and struck fast; landing two and three punch combinations to the head of Mosley. Forrest won the decision and retained the WBC Welterweight title.
The Caged Viper
The year of 2003 was a tough year for Vernon Forrest. In January he stepped into the ring against the WBA Welterweight champion and hard hitting Ricardo Mayorga. Vernon Forrest suffered his first professional loss when Mayorga knocked him out in the third round. Later on that year, he once again fought Ricardo Mayorga and lost by a majority decision. Many sports writers including myself thought Forrest won the fight by a narrow decision.
Vernon Forrest took two years off from boxing because of multiple injuries. First, he had to have complete reconstructive surgery on his left arm. Forrest had a total of three surgeries, two on his shoulder and one on his left elbow to repair torn cartilage and nerve damage.
The Viper Strikes back
Vernon Forrest returned to the ring to face Sergio Rios in July of 2005. Forrest won the fight by knockout in the second round. Vernon then went on to stop Elco Garcia in round ten with a left hook that sent him crashing to the canvas. Vernon Forrest won a ten round unanimous decision against journeyman Ike Quartey in August of 2006. Many individuals thought Quartey had done enough to win, but it was Forrest who ultimately impressed the judges fighting his game.
On July 28, 2007 Vernon Forrest fought Carlos Baldomir for the vacant WBC Light Middleweight title. Vernon started the contest heavily, frequently firing off huge power shots at Baldomir. After 12 rounds of boxing, Forrest won a lopsided decision to take the WBC Light Middleweight title. Forrest successfully defended his title against Michele Piccirillo scoring an eleventh round technical knockout to regain his title.
Losing/reclaiming his title
In June of 2008 Vernon Forrest lost his title to “The Contender” (TV Series) winner Sergio Mora. In the prefight jargon, Forrest referred to Mora as “The Pretender.” However, Mora succeeded in narrowing a majority decision in his favor and taking the WBC Light Middleweight title.
Naturally, Vernon Forrest opted for a rematch. The rematch was granted and took place on September 14, 2008. “The Viper” struck quick and pursued Mora around the ring early. Forrest went on to win by unanimous decision regaining the WBC title.
Destiny’s Child Inc.
Outside the ring Vernon Forrest developed a passion to help the mentally challenged. He created a realistic blueprint for charity assistance to those without a place to live. This is a group home that provides housing and assistance to mentally challenged adults. The assistance provides 24 hour care/supervision by trained mental health professionals.
At roughly 11:00pm on July 25, 2009, Vernon Forrest stopped at a gas station in Atlanta in his late model Jaguar. Forrest was accompanied by his 11 year old godson. As the boy went inside to the gas station, Forrest went to the back of his car to inflate a tire with low pressure. As this occurred, an individual robbed him at gunpoint and fled. Forrest, who was armed, went after the man and shots were exchanged. After a short distance Forrest gave up on the chase and began walking back to the gas station. It was then that a second man shot Forrest seven to eight times in the back. According to police, the shooter and a second person left the scene in a red Monte Carlo. Vernon Forrest was pronounced dead at 1:29am by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office.
The Universal Champion
Vernon Forrest’s untimely death has left us with a treasure chest of memorable fights to cherish forever. This is a terrible day for boxing, as one of our great champions has left us on his next journey. Vernon Forrest was not only a champ inside the ring but outside as well. “The Viper” will continue to bring his stinging passion throughout the world, and remain in the hearts of many fans, sportswriters, critics, and every fighter that has ever had a passion….inside and outside of the ring….
You will be greatly missed!