It was a sad day in April for me in 2010, when at the height of the fight world’s demand for a Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather Jr. showdown for boxing supremacy, an obscure southpaw from out of Venezuela took his own life at a time during which word amongst many of the sports purists began placing him at it’s helm.
Edwin Valero was lightening in a bottle. He had yet had anything legitimately comparative to Pretty Boy Money or Pac Man‘s Hall of Fame careers, but his record of 27-0 with knock outs in every one of those bouts was nothing short of legendary. Valero had just defeated current champion Antonio Demarco in what was his 9th title defense reigning over the WBA superfeatherweight, then WBC lightweight devisions. Questions as to how he’d fare against fast-powerpunching contemporary Pacquiao were sufacing, with Valero himself calling the pound-for-pound king out.
We with an ear to the scene, and a considerable knowledge of geo-politics at the time knew if there was one thing preventing the man from slaying his way to complete dominance in capitalism’s most primitive game, it was more likely his notorious advocacy for his beloved Socialist President (Hugo Chavez tattoo’d on his chest), than his unmerciful fists!
Sadder than the loss of such an extraordinary talent, were the developments that brought it about. The story of Edwin Valero is not simply that of the modern gladiator, or class warrior manifest in the ring.. the day before his untimely suicide, the story of Edwin Valero ever tragically became that of his wife; 24 year old Jennifer Carolina. That was the day he murdered the mother of his two children, capping a tumultuously violent relationship which cited numerous hospital stays and police reports for domestic abuse.
In the wake of the sensational turn of events (Valero was found hanging in police custody), conspiracy theories flung about from every corner of the net. “drugs and alcohol”, “psychological effects of his motorcycle injury”, Even President Chavez chimed in to pretty much claim it all a right-wing political plot. Generally absent from the whirlwind of talk, outside of reactionary response from politicos looking to exploit anything that might undermind anything Venezuela, was a focus on Jennifer/her family/ the all too common plight of abused boxing wives/ failure of Valero’s circle to support him into getting help for his demon, and on a larger scope; a lack of attention and resources towards gender violence by legal boxing councils…
Here is the wife of a professional athlete. Even typical as one may project her to come, she is human as human gets; the unacknowledged superhero!__ balancing the barbarity of her husband with a nurturing spirit; feeding, cleaning, clothing and educating their children; keeping a stable home for him to come back to for his psychological and emotional well-being. She doesn’t just open her legs to him, and in fact it’s not even so much that she cooks, cleans, and handles very fundamental business tasks autonomous from those of the industry vultures.. as much as it is that she reserves an unconditional place for his human interests! __She lives subbordinated in the silent role of a superstar athlete’s wife; and if she should die, she dies silent; out of sight, and out of mind.
When in protest of the 90-day prison sentence inherited by Floyd Mayweather Jr. for battering ex-partner Josie Harris, World Boxing Council chief Jose Sulaiman put out a statement dismissing “beating a lady” as nothing akin to “a major sin or crime”; I could not be shocked.
Neither was I surprised to learn that in the interest of clearing May 5th for Floyd to fight an *as of yet signed opponent* (a fight that hasn’t even been made), Justice Melissa Saragosa had pushed his January 6th report-to-serve date back to June.
Such a travesty is to be expected. Women have always been expendable in the boxing world.
If they are not circling a ring showcasing huge placards over their bikini laced bodies between rounds, they are occupying comparisons to one another in the first row of our imagination, opposite sides of the ring, donning luxuries we rarely consider they might adorn on their own dime. Each, marrying into the sport to carry the mark of ‘gold-digger’ or glorified ‘groupie’; each, measured against expectations set to the likeness.
How many men saw a fighter’s manager when they were looking at Mrs. Shane Mosley? Heck, matrimony aside, how long will it be before we recognize the best trainer in the game might be Ann Wolfe?? We take them for granted, they’re tossed aside. We’ve never allowed ourselves to accept that boxing in it’s own right belongs to Women as much as it does men.
More times than not she is assumed to be a deserving victim, or no victim at all. We hear the chuckles of brothers at a Farrakahn rally, responding to his smirk, mocking the notion that a young Desiree Washington accepting a 3 a.m. invitation from Mike Tyson, did not ‘know what she was getting into’. Of course we do.. just earlier that day behind the scenes broadcasts have Mike meeting Washinton in a line of contestants during beauty pageant rehearsals in Indianapolis; bogarting back and forth before their wide eyes, he caressed his chin, dipping a scope up and down with design on their figures, smiling back at the camera; …expendable.
Before Diego Chico Corrales lost his life in a Vegas motorcyle accident, he was immortalized for his classic battle against Jose Luis Castillo; The beating of his pregnant wife, in which he is reported to have delivered a deliberate blow to her stomach, was a fly-by-night headline. Just as the arm pulling, fist throwing assault on Jossie Harris by a seemingly teflon Mayweather is proving to be. It will not stick to him, nobody will reflect critically on it a year from now as we may, say.. a ‘suspect’ Miguel Cotto for wiping tears away as he recalled the passing of his father. Nobody, is even talking about it, now!
Backwards as it sounds, the entitlement we grant men in sports, almost lends deferment of Floyd’s jail-time as something Harris might feel fortunate knowing he received. It is afterall typical of the psychology of a battered woman to fear greater repercussion should her abuser be put to face punishment. And there are undoubtedly legions of fans who’ve grown resentful of Harris, as over the course of the trial Floyd has been persistant in declaring the accusations false and malicious. For his big date to be cancelled by default of the court’s ruling, we’d be hearing a backlash of public opinion put her to blame for his missing the boat on a potentially imminent showdown with Manny, before we hear anyone holding him accountable, for a crime his children testified baring witness to.
Sources have all around confirmed that what earned Floyd his reprieve is the potential revenue to be made off the long awaited Pacquiao super-fight (a fight which still seems a long shot from happening). There is no question an event of it’s magnitude, taking place in Las Vegas’ famed MGM Grand, on Cinco de Mayo would make good on his lawyer’s promise before the judge, to generate $100 million for the economy. In America, money talks.. (pun intended)
In fact, now we are hearing Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum float an offer for the fight to happen if Floyd agrees to a June 9th date, which by all accounts would be impossible to tend considering he is to report to prison on the 1st of June. Leave it to the powerful Arum though, to arrogantly suggest that he’d put up the fees to have it pushed back again; almost as if looking right past the grief stricken reality of Women who’ve befallen a heavy hand, to the man at the other end of the bargaining table. His rationale? There’s a chance that an extra $40 million could be made off additional seats constructed in that time.
As if though the same $100 million (plus 40) couldn’t be made after Floyd has justly served his time.
Sulaiman, Judge Saragosa, Floyd’s legal team, Bob Arum, we the public, are all responsible for the grave injustice given slack here.. we ought to all be ashamed about the precedent we seem so blood lustingly willing to set, to see this fight happen ASAP at the clap! This is bigger than Floyd, this is bigger than boxing.. the legal grace and public apathy towards it are indicative of a system working to the endangerment of Women and families. Despite the model of political or economic government under which it manifests, patriarchy victimizes individuals.. families.. societies.. humanity.
..When a man
has so much power that
no-one but he himself,
dare take him out.
Who knows what he is capable of…