PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 22, 2021  
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Story by John DiSanto


Former lightweight contender Anthony Fletcher was released from the State Correctional Institution - Phoenix, in Collegeville, PA (formerly called Graterford Prison), after 28 years of incarceration. Much of his time was spent on "death row".

In 1992, Fletcher was involved with the shooting death of Vaughn Christopher on a Southwest Philly street. The following year, Fletcher was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. However, Fletcher always maintained that the shooting occurred in self defense during a physical struggle with Christopher. So for many years, from his death row cell, Anthony tried to find someone to listen to him, and ultimately do something to help him.  

Over the years, Fletcher's case was discussed and debated by many, but the various legal challenges always lead to a dead end for the former fighter. Although many supported his claims, the case felt like a hopeless cause, despite the fact that there seemed to be considerable doubt surrounding both the exact nature of the shooting and the quality of the legal defense Fletcher received during his murder trial.

In this most recent appeal, it was ruled that Fletcher's original attorney had erred in Anthony's defense by not properly investigating whether the shooting had occurred as the result of a struggle, and thus an act of self-defense.

On Thursday, Fletcher plead no contest to third degree murder and Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom re-sentenced him to 12.5 to 25 years. Since Fletcher had already served more than the 25 year maximum, he was ordered to be released.

After 28 years in prison, Fletcher left the penitentiary today. 

Dan Stevenson, Chief of the Homicide Unit at the Defender Association, handled the case and helped negotiate Fletcher's release. Stevenson, along with Federal and State offices, had been working on Fletcher's case for years.  

Fletcher's professional boxing career spanned from 1980 to 1990 and resulted in a record of 24-4-1, with 8 KOs. The southpaw won the PA State lightweight title in 1989 with a 12-round decision over Marvin Garris at the Blue Horizon. Fletcher also scored victories over Sammy Goss, Livingstone Bramble, Freddie Pendleton and Ernest Bing. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2018.

Anthony is part of the fighting Fletcher family, which also includes living brothers Frank "The Animal" Fletcher, Troy Fletcher, and uncle Dick Turner, who died in 2020. With Troy Fletcher elected in 2021 and set to be inducted in October, all four family members are PA Boxing Hall of Famers.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - January 22, 2021