O’Neil “Supernova” Bell celebrates after defeating Jean-Marc Mormeck by knockout during their undisputed cruiserweight championship fight Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Former boxing champ O’Neil ‘Supernova’ Bell killed in Atlanta

Former boxing champion O’Neil Bell’s life began nearly 41 years ago on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, where his parents worked at hotels before moving the family to Delaware when he was 5.

The cruiserweight boxer’s life ended early Wednesday in southwest Atlanta, where he was gunned down, police said, by a pair of robbers who left him dead in the middle of Harbins Road.

Atlanta police said Wednesday robbery appeared to be a motive in the fatal shooting and authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding Bell’s killers.

Police believe four males may be involved in the shooting. They were also looking for a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser with the Georgia tag TJC685. Police believe the vehicle was stolen Tuesday in East Point and used in a robbery there on Tuesday night. Police released a video of the vehicle and an image of a person seen by witnesses exiting the vehicle.

Bell moved to Atlanta in 1995 and worked as a driver for UPS before becoming a professional boxer three years later. He held the WBA, WBC and IBF cruiserweight boxing titles, amassing a record of 26 wins, three losses and one draw during a 13-year career that ended in 2011.

Initially fighting under the moniker “Give ‘Em Hell” Bell, he later changed his nickname to “Supernova.”

“I did a little bit of research on Hell. I didn’t want to associate myself with Hell,” Bell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before a 2006 title unification bout. “You attract bad company, bad things, with a name like that.”

Early Wednesday, Bell apparently attracted the worst kind of company imaginable.

Channel 2 Action News reported that Bell and another man had just gotten off a MARTA bus on Harbins Road shortly after midnight when a vehicle drove up with two men inside.

Responding officers found Bell dead in the street with a gunshot wound to the upper torso. While it was reported earlier that he had been with the second individual, police said Wednesday said the two men were not together. Police also said Bell had not been stabbed.

The other victim, who was not identified, was shot in the right hip and transported in stable condition to Grady Memorial Hospital, according to police Lt. Charles Hampton.

Any information on the case can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477), online www.crimestoppersatlanta. or by texting CSA and the tip to CRIMES (274637). Persons do not have to give their name or any identifying information to be eligible for the reward of up to $2,000 for the arrest and indictment of the suspects.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.