Tuesday marks a tragic day in the sports world as former two-division WBA world champion Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and murdered in his home country of Venezuela.
SportsCenter's Twitter feed initially provided the heartbreaking news:
Former boxing champion Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and killed in Venezuela. The former super bantamweight and featherweight champ was 44.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 25, 2014
Local police chief Eliseo Guzman provides details about the murder, per the Associated Press (via ESPN):
Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found shot and killed on Tuesday in a road in the central state of Miranda, said local police chief Eliseo Guzman.
Guzman said Cermeno and other relatives were kidnapped on Monday night near the La Urbina neighborhood in east Caracas. The relatives escaped when the kidnappers stopped to refuel the car, but the former boxer remained captive, Guzman said.
Boxing announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. expressed his condolences via Twitter, saying he had "many great memories" with Cermeno:
So sad to hear that former champ Antonio Cermeño was kidnapped and found dead. I had many great memories with him. RIP amigo— Jimmy Lennon Jr (@TheClassyJr) February 25, 2014
WBA's Twitter feed posted a picture with the former champion, calling him "a great person":
We are sorry to hear about the death of former champion Antonio Cermeño, he was a great person. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/n9SwPYWI3i— WBA (@NewsWba) February 25, 2014
The 44-year-old enjoyed immense boxing success throughout his career. In May of 1995, he defeated Wilfredo Vazquez via unanimous decision to capture the WBA super bantamweight title, which he would go on to successfully defend several times before vacating the championship.
Three years later, in October of 1998, he knocked out Genaro Rios to win the vacant WBA featherweight title, and according to BoxRec.com, he finished his career 45-7 with 31 knockouts.
Following his retirement in 2006, "El Coloso" decided to give back to his community. According to Hilmar Rojas of BoxingScene.com, he worked extensively with kids, most notably helping out with the "Street Boxing" program in Venezuela. The program is designed to keep youth off the streets in Caracas, Venezuela, by putting them inside boxing rings.
Cermeno was an impressive champion inside the ring, and by all accounts, he was a respected individual outside of it.