12 years ago today, Edwin Valero was found hanging in a Venezuelan prison cell, this just a day after the world champion/tortured soul/utter scumbag/mentally deranged lunatic – really, you can take your pick as far as your choice of a description – had killed his wife, this by stabbing her.
Valero, who apparently showed remorse over the murder, could not live with himself and, left alone for a sufficient amount of time, he hanged himself with the sweatpants he was allowed to wear whilst languishing in his cell. Could Valero’s suicide have been prevented? Mostly likely, yes, it could have been. But the bigger question fans have – this assuming Valero still has any fans, and it’s certainly likely he does not – is should it have been?
When we look back on Valero and his sordid actions, it’s tough to not have a good riddance attitude and sentiment. Valero’s terrified wife, unable for whatever reason or reasons to be in a position to be able to escape the clutches of her frustrated and unhinged partner, was the victim of the kind of horrors an X-rated film displays in all its gore. Our thoughts should naturally go out to her, not to her murderer. But here we see the nature of human beings – we are attracted to the shocking and to the violent. To the sordid. To the horrific.
What makes a human being take the life of another human being? Valero had an inner rage, that much was graphically on display each and every time he fought – 27 fights, 27 wins, all by KO, many of them by savage and quick knockout – and he may have suffered irreversible head trauma due to the 2001 motorbike crash he had, this when he wasn’t wearing a helmet. This led to a fractured skull and a subsequent ban from boxing in the US. Still, despite any outside events that were beyond Valero’s control, no-one is ever going to be willing to give him a pass for what he did. What Valero’s wife went through, no person should ever have to endure. Not ever.
So how should we remember Valero today? Should we remember him at all? As fight fans, we can be guilty of being selfish at times; to the point where we think about boxing and nothing more. To this end, and due to how exciting and ferocious as Valero was in the ring, some of us do wish he had gone on to achieve all he and his lethal skills would perhaps have allowed him. Would Valero have become a great had he not imploded as violently and as disgustingly as he did? Maybe.
But Valero knew what he was doing when he killed his wife, he had to have known, hence the fact that the sheer guilt he carried with him, for that short spell, ensured his own demise. So to hell with Valero. But at the same time, some of us do miss this truly intense, as it turned out, genuinely possessed fighter.
Shame on us, perhaps.