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Berbick Nephew, Man Charged in Slaying

November 3, 2006

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ A 20-year-old nephew of former heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick and another man have been charged with beating him to death and leaving his body in a church courtyard, police said Friday.

Harold Berbick, who had been involved in a land dispute with his uncle, allegedly killed him as part of the long-running feud, police Sgt. Jubert Llewellyn said.

The nephew and Kenton Gordon, an 18-year-old from the same eastern region of the Caribbean island, were detained earlier this week and charged late Thursday. At a court hearing Friday, they were ordered to remain in custody in Portland parish, about 80 miles east of Kingston.

They confessed to the crime during an interrogation, said Detective Sgt. Kenneth Bailey of the Port Antonio police. A telephone call seeking comment from Berbick’s lawyer was not immediately returned; Gordon does not have an attorney. Their next court appearance is set for Nov. 7.

The body of Berbick, who was believed to be 51, was discovered Oct. 28 outside a Portland church. Berbick grew up in the area and returned to live there following his deportation from the United States in 2002.

Berbick was the last boxer to face Muhammad Ali in the ring and briefly held the WBC heavyweight title before losing it to Mike Tyson in 1986.

The retired fighter died from multiple blows to the back of his head, police said. A 2-inch-thick metal pipe recovered from the scene was believed to be the weapon used.

The nephew’s mother, who also feuded with Berbick, was detained for questioning and released, police said.

Berbick was charged with larceny for breaking into his sister-in-law’s house in 2002 and was later cleared. Earlier this year, Berbick was charged with assault for allegedly punching the woman.

The two suspects were charged with murder. At the Nov. 7 hearing in Portland, a magistrate is to determine whether to upgrade the charge to capital murder, which could lead to more severe penalties, including life sentences.

Berbick fought at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He defeated Ali by unanimous decision in the famed champion’s final bout in 1981. Berbick won the WBC heavyweight title in 1985 with a decision over Pinklon Thomas, but Tyson _ who was then 20 _ knocked out Berbick in the second round on Nov. 22, 1986, to become the youngest heavyweight champ.

Berbick fought from 1976 to 2000, finishing with a record of 50-11 with one draw and 33 knockouts.

Following his retirement from the ring, Berbick was convicted in the U.S. for sexual assault, grand theft and burglary.

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