Born into poverty in the tough streets of Merida in Venezuela, Edwin Valero was no stranger to standing his ground undeterred by weight or height he quickly made a name for himself as a street thug, where he and his friends would ride around the tight streets of Venezuela looking to steal and rob for personal gain.
His mother and father separated while he was still young, aged twelve Edwin was left homeless left to fend for himself in a city that took no prisoners, he would occasionally find shelter in a local boxing gym or more often than not tough it out in the unforgiving streets of Merida.
The boxing gym was a place where he felt at home, making his amateur debut aged 12 Edwin it has been said was a natural in a time where he racked up a reported 86 wins against just 6 loses becoming and defending the Venezuelan amateur title on three occasions as well as also taking top honours at the Central and South American Championships
So it was just a matter of time before El Dinamita (The Dynamite) exploded on to the professional scene but like everything associated with Edwin, nothing was that straight forward.
On February 2001 Valero’s world was turned on its head literally, wearing no helmet he was involved in a motorcycle accident which almost cut short his boxing career before it had enough time to get started. The accident caused life threatening injuries and left him with a fractured skull which resulted in him needing to be rushed onto the operating table to have a procedure to remove a blood clot.
Once a fighter, always a fighter Edwin made a quick recovery with eyes firmly set on the professional ranks but here is where his world turned upside down because there was now a concern amongst sanctioning bodies, due to the trauma caused from the accident the people making the decision were hesitant to make future fights with Edwin especially in America.
In a past interview Douglass Fisher who at the time was writing for Maxboxing.com said that this would have beaten a lesser fighter in fact going as far as to say 75 – 95% but Edwin must have been in the minority because instead of turning his back on the sport which had held so much promise he dedicated himself more to it. In fact trainers at the time say they had issues getting him out of the ring where his gym wars (sparring sessions) have become Internet sensations.
Never one to pitta pat his way around a training partner, Edwin would let lose which had even the toughest of men turning down the chance of future workouts. It has been said that former world champion Juan Luzcano didn’t even return for his boxing equipment after partaking in one of Edwin’s fire fights.
Nearly a year on and still with the belief he would fight as a professional he was given the green light by a Venezuelan doctor. Personally speaking I would have hated to have been in Eduardo Hernandez shoes because in his debut Valero took out a year of frustration on his countryman. On the plus side for Hernandez at least it was over quick enough with Edwin recording a first round stoppage.
This was the start of many one round annihilations; on February 2006 Edwin set a new world record by winning the first 18 fights by way of either stoppage or knockout in the first round. This record has since been beaten by Tyrone Brunson which not many, including myself acknowledge due to the level of opposition he faced.
Edwin was now making more than a few boxing insiders take note with thoughts on how far this young South American banger could go on and on he most certainly went, like a small hurricane he tore through opposition with brute power and aggression culminating in one of his main goals to win a world title.
The opportunity presented itself on the 5th August 2006 for the WBA Super Featherweight title where across the ring he faced the champion Vicente Mosquera, a Panamanian who had been beaten just once by split decision. Valero undeterred by any man they put in front of him went immediately on seek and destroy mission which left the champion on the seat of his pants twice in the first round. Mosquera was game for most parts and even had Valero down in the third but instead of putting an element of doubt into the Venezuelan it instead enraged him as he came forward and rolled completely over the champion in a tenth round stoppage victory.
Edwin was now a world champion and an Icon in his beloved Venezuela but this brought with it some problems. When away from a boxing gym Edwin would slip back into his life of drugs and alcohol which often resulted in an altercation with whoever stood in his way, often that person would be his wife Jennifer Carolina Viera, who made more than a few trips to the hospital with cuts, bruises and at one time a punctured lung, her love or it may have been sheer fear that stopped her from ever naming Edwin to the police. In her eyes these were just accidents but those around her knew differently.
After defending his WBA Super Featherweight title on four occasions, Edwin sought a new challenge, a chance to become a two weight world champion, Antonio Pitalua a tough Colombian six months prior had knocked out Jose Armando Santa Cruz, a regular sparring partner of Edwin’s which may have added just a little more spice to an already hot fight.
Some of boxing’s most knowledgeable people acknowledged that Edwin would start the favourite but many predicted that this could be his toughest fight so far. Pitalua was coming into the fight with momentum having won 14 consecutive bouts by knockout, but I guess Edwin didn’t receive that memo because he again as he had done to previous opponents tore through the tall Colombian with ease stopping him in the second of a very one sided fight where Pitalua at times looked like a scared rabbit in the headlights.
Edwin not only beat his opponents, he punished them, not afraid to travel he fought in a host of different countries each time leaving with a digit in the win column and an opponent who thought he had been hit by a freight train.
Hector Velasquez was swept aside in seven rounds and the Impressive Mexican Antonio DeMarco went the same way in nine. Valero was undaunted by any of the fighters competing at that time, a record was something that you played in his eyes nothing more.
As Valero’s career rose with every passing bout his personal life plummeted. Alcohol was always persistent in his life and was always Valero’s most dangerous opponent so much so that on the night of April 18th 2010 Valero gave in to the demons and let them through the door stabbing his 24 year old wife to death in a hotel room.
Hotel Security reportedly told Police that Valero emerged from the room with blood stained clothes and told them of his actions as he was arrested shortly after. The Pictures taken afterwards show Valero in handcuffs eyes wide, blacker than the depths of his soul.
Valero had made a decision that he could never change and with a passing day the guilt it seemed was too much to bear as his fall had been complete, those same children would grow without a mother or father as Velero took his own life, found hanging in his jail cell with a makeshift noose that he had made from a pair of his own trousers, the ones which he had been wearing at the time of his arrest.
Still to this day there are a lot of holes in the story of the murder and suicide where even Manny Pacquiao highlighted the possibility of conspiracy with regards to Edwin’s suicide.
Manny expressed his concern over the news that Valero committed suicide in a jail cell, where he made the following comments through his adviser Mike Koncz:
“He thought about the possibility of a conspiracy, and that it was possible that the family of Valero’s wife had powerful friends and so there could have been a conspiracy to get back at Valero” said Koncz “Someone might have gotten back at him. If police authorities felt that Valero could be a danger even to himself, they should have stripped him down to his briefs inside his cell or put a straight jacket on him. They do that in the United States. Venezuelan authorities should have placed Valero under suicidal watch.”
It isn’t my place to say whether I think he was killed or not, What I do know is that Edwin will always be one of my favoured fighters, I mean everyone loves a puncher and there was none better, as a man there is no defending what he did on the night of April 18th and nor should there – I just wish in his time of need he had the help or support from his family to take him past the evil that obviously stayed with him from a young man and maybe just maybe we could have been looking at one of boxing’s best.