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CARACAS (Venezuela): Former boxing champion Edwin Valero was addicted to cocaine and had grown increasingly violent before he was arrested in his wife's murder and hanged himself in a Venezuelan jail, his mother-in-law said on Tuesday.
Mary Finol said her daughter, and Valero's wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera had told her family that Valero “didn't sleep, he didn't eat, he used drugs every day and he was growing more violent all the time.”
Valero, who gained fame with a record of 27 straight knockouts and a huge tattoo of President Hugo Chavez on his chest, was arrested on Sunday in the stabbing death of his 24-year-old wife. Police said the boxer hanged himself in his cell early on Monday.
Viera's funeral was on Tuesday, and Valero's funeral was scheduled for Wednesday.
Valero, a former WBA super featherweight and WBC lightweight champion, had a turbulent disposition and had been in trouble with the law before, both for violent outbursts and problems with alcohol and drugs.
Since 2008, Venezuelan news reports had repeatedly linked Valero to domestic violence incidents, but the fighter and his supporters denied those reports.
“We all looked away not to admit what was going on,” the boxer's manager, Jose Castillo, told reporters on Monday. He said authorities also “were very permissive with him and because of that we're now in the middle of this tragedy.”
As he gained fame in boxing, Valero appeared as a special guest at events hosted by Chavez and was lionized by some of the president's supporters.
Some said the fighter avoided punishment for past problems due to his links to the government.
Chavez reacted to the deaths of Valero and his wife, calling them “a tragedy.”
“May they both rest in peace,” Chavez said late on Tuesday evening. “We should be support their children.”
In September, Valero denied he had been detained on domestic violence charges after Venezuelan news reports said a neighbour told emergency services that the boxer had struck his mother and a sister.
Five months earlier, the boxer's wife was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to her left leg.
Officials said at the time that Viera was thought to have been shot outside her house by an unknown attacker on a motorcycle.
Last month, Valero was charged with harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel.
Police arrested him following an argument with a doctor and nurse at a hospital where his wife was being treated for injuries that included a punctured lung and broken ribs. — AP
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