As well all know by now, Edwin Valero took his life several days ago after confessing to the murder of his wife. Unfortunately, Valero's tragic story is nothing new to boxing. The entire history of our sport is littered with violent deaths and out-of-control bad boys.
Jack Johnson was one of the greatest heavyweights of all time and the most romantic story in boxing. However there was a dark side. His first wife, Etta Duryea, was admitted to the hospital with black eyes, broken bones, and internal injuries more than once. After several years of marriage she took her own life. Jack himself died in a car accident born out of road rage. A friend and contemporary of Johnson's, Stanley Ketchel, was murdered by a jealous husband.
Randy Turpin, a British brawler, ended Sugar Ray Robinson's 93-fight win-streak to capture the middleweight crown. However Turpin couldn't handle the obscurity and financial pressure that comes with retirement and shot himself in 1966.
Oscar Bonavena, the awkward and crude nemesis of Frazier and Ali, was shot in the back while trying to escape from a ranch in Texas. Bonavena was attempting to seduce a madame and brothel owner to return to Argentina with him, her husband was the one who shot him.
Diego Corrales was killed in a motorcycle accident while driving drunk. And last year the summer kicked off with a series of shocking deaths. Gatti and Arguello died from extremely suspicious suicides and before their unfortunate passing could truly be felt, Vernon Forest was shot and killed while trying to defend his family from car-jackers.
What is it about boxing that attracts such tragic figures and creates tragic stories? Most obviously it is because it requires a curious mental attitude to beat another human being for pay. Also, someone who enjoys violence may not keep it confined to the ring. Not to mention that the kids most frequently recruited into boxing are kids with limited options to begin with.
Edwin Valero, in the course of two months, went from a promising and popular prospect to a wife-beating villain. Now, following his suicide, he is on the long list of tragic figures in boxing. Most tragic though, is that his life and death will probably be forgotten in a few years and that he will not be the last fighter to suffer such a fate.
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