Jose Castillo, Edwin Valero's Manager, Speaks About Boxer's 'Tragic' Death
In the ring, WBC lightweight champion Edwin Valero was the perfect weapon: a hard-punching, embodiment of ferocity who was 27-0, with 27 knockouts.
Out of the ring, the 28-year-old Valero was "a monster," according to one report, his drunken, violent behavior leading to admittedly stabbing his wife to death on Sunday, and to his suicide on, Monday, by hanging himself in a Venezuelan jail.
"There's no need, no reason to play the blame game here. There were a lot of people, including his boxing manager [Jose Castillo] and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who tried to help this troubled guy out," The Examiner's Mike Marley quoted the fighter's promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, as saying of Valero, whose actions have orphaned son Edwin, 8, and daughter Rosselin, 5. "I'm sure that Chavez and the government will help those two children who are left behind now with a murdered mother and a father who killed her and then took his own life."
Castillo, who was trying to bring Valero and his family to Los Angeles, criticized authorities for failing to act more forcefully to prevent the killing.
"I asked the authorities not to let him out [of jail]. He needed a lot of help. He was very bad in the head," Castillo told reporters of Valero, who had been detained March 25 on suspicion of assaulting his wife, even as she told a police officer her injuries were due to a fall. "But they let him out. They were very permissive with him, and because of that, we're now in the middle of this tragedy."
Casillo spoke to FanHouse about Valero in this Q&A.
FanHouse: What are your general feelings today concerning the news of Edwin Valero's suicide?
Jose Castillo: I can hardly put it into words. It's sad, tragic. As a human being, a professional boxer, it's just tragic.
How long had you been his manager?
For about a year and a half. I came on as his manager when he defeated Antonio Pitalua a little over a year ago [in April] in Austin for the WBC lightweight championship.
Edwin Valero has been called by some in the media as "a monster in the ring and a monster out of the ring," but what can you say to the public to shed light on Valero?
Well, most people are going to go by what they read and hear in the media. But they don't really know who Edwin Valero was. Edwin Valero, to people who really knew him, at the core, he was an extremely good person. I know that it is very hard to imagine that, considering the tragedy that just happened.
But deep down inside, Edwin was a very caring person. Unfortunately, he had some issues with his childhood and with his past that most people don't know about. Obviously, it must be hard to imagine the feeling he must have been dealing with that would drive him to do this.
But people who really knew him, they knew that he was a very good person. Leading to this, what he was feeling, I guess, were that there were a lot of obstacles that, in his mind, were coming into play. Being that he was in Venezuela, there were just so many factors.
We will never know exactly what was going through his mind these last few weeks and days. It's very tragic, and I would like for the public to kind of think about that. Deep down, he had some issues and he was still a human being.
What are some examples of his kindness?
When he's not in training -- because that's when he's very intense and very focused, when he's in training. But when he's not in training, he was very caring with his family. He never went anywhere without his family. If he saw somebody in need, then he would help.
He would reach down deep into his pocket and he would help in the event that he could. Edwin was also a very loyal person.
You say that Edwin Valero had some issues from his childhood that you believe haunted him?
Edwin was out of his house at the age of 12 years old. He was living on the streets. He lived on the streets or he lived in the gym from the age of 12 years old on. He was basically on his own. From what I know, and from what he has told me, is that sometimes he had to steal for a living in order to eat. He had no other way to eat.
It was a very, very rough childhood for him. He basically didn't have a childhood. His parents got separated. I believe that he was out of his home for the first time at the age of 7.
How much insight did you have into the violence that existed with him with regard to his wife?
It's very hard to imagine. Today, it's just hard to picture what has just happened, considering how much I know that he loved his wife and his family. We didn't know about the violence in the relationship until last year, when he went back after winning the championship [in April].
He went back to Venezuela, and his visa got denied. I guess that's when some of the first problems started. Where he started drinking and I think that's when some of the violence started to take place. That's when it probably started to show up.
Do you recall having any conversations with him about his behavior?
We never actually talked about it until it actually got to the point where he was charged with some things, and we did talk about it. It was like, 'Look, what are you doing?' and 'You don't do that,' first of all. 'Don't put family in harm's way' and 'Don't put yourself in harm's way.'
That's when we started to realize that he was doing a little too much of the drinking.
Do you believe the stories that you're hearing about Valero killing his wife?
I actually do believe it, because I know the issues, or at least, knew of or saw some of the factors involved in the issues. Recently, when I talked to him and he told me things, I knew that he wasn't well and that he needed help. The last conversation that I had with him, however, he was very centered and focused.
He was conscious of everything and he actually pleaded for help. He wanted help, and he knew that he needed help.
Do you believe that Valero's wife was afraid of him?
That could be one of the factors. I know that she loved him very much. She loved their children, and she knew that, deep down, that was not Edwin Valero.
But when it came to him being under the influence, then, obviously, he was a different person. I think that she lived with the hope that he would get the help and to attend rehab and become the person that he really could. That's the person that most people never got to see or even think that he could be like.
When was that last conversation and what do you remember Edwin Valero saying?
It was on April 8, I believe. That was the day that he was last released from his alcohol rehabilitation. Basically, he said that he knew that he needed the help, and that he couldn't be around his wife right now. That he needed to be separated from her. And, obviously, now we know why.
He knew what he was capable of doing if he was under the influence of some type of drugs or alcohol. And we talked about some more options of him going to rehab, and he was supposed to send me some information. That's how we ended our last conversation.
The last thing that we discussed were the options for rehab and what he needed to do. He was aware of it and he knew that he wanted to do it. I asked him about what he would want me to say to the media when he entered the rehab, because I was getting a lot of calls.
I didn't want so speak without talking to him. That's when he started to tell me a little bit about his childhood, and why he felt that he had these issues, and he was supposed to send me an e-mail outlining to me why he had these issues. Things that just played in his head and what drove him to drink.
And, I never got the e-mail.
Do you have any kind of internal anguish concerning potentially what more you could have done?
You do the best that you can do, and, of course, you always wish that you could have done more. It is very, very difficult to deal with. We tried. We tried to do many things. We tried many, many options for him.
There were some instances where he was ready to do it, but the very next day, maybe under the influence of alcohol, he would not get out of that influence of being a totally different person.
What were your thoughts when you were informed that Valero had hung himself?
I was very sad, very sad. You know, like I said, I wish that I could have done more. But there was very little that one can do. I mean, Edwin was a very determined person to do whatever he wanted for people that knew him. If he already had this in mind, then sooner or later, Edwin was going to do this no matter what anybody did.
I was, needless to say, very, very distraught and very saddened by this. You kind of knew that something like this could happen because of the state of mind that he was in, but it's still very hard to imagine that this really has happened.
Was the fact that you're here [in Orange County], Calif., and he was over there a hindrance to your ability to stay on top of him?
Obviously, he was a national sport icon. Venezuela had not had a world champion in quite some time. And, in particular, with a record and the stature that Edwin had compiled and achieved. He had 27 wins, 27 knockouts and was a two-time world champion.
I had people in Venezuela who were doing things for me over there to try and help him. So that was not a factor at all. It's always easy to have, as they say, hindsight. Like, 'You should have done this' or 'You should have done that.'
But when you're really involved, and people know, and his family knows, and people that were involved in the case know that we did everything that we could. It was just very difficult to get him to accept at times that he needed the help. We really tried our best.
So was it that he had a completely different personality when he was drinking than when he wasn't?
He couldn't be controlled, at least when he was under the influence of alcohol. He basically did what he wanted to down there. He had money, because he had recently fought, so I'm sure that he used his money to get some of the things that he wanted to get.
But to really know Edwin, I think that you really have to know him from beginning to end. It's like if you're watching a movie from the middle to the end. You really can't understand why the ending came out that way without watching the beginning, and most people don't know what the beginning of Edwin Valero was.
I understand that WBC president Jose Sulaiman is establishing a fund for Valero's children?
Obviously our thoughts, meaning myself, my family and the members of the team, were to do some things to help the family, the children. As a matter of fact, this morning I had a conversation with Mr. Jose Sulaiman and we are looking at setting up some type of trust account for the children.
We want for people to be able to donate money to it. The other idea is to, in the very near future, for there to be a major boxing event that will go toward benefiting Edwin's children and his family. That's all forthcoming. We just discussed it this morning.