Valero buried amid questions over drug and alcohol abuse

By Javier Faria

EL VIGIA, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan boxer Edwin Valero, who committed suicide Monday in a jail where he was held for killing his wife, was buried Wednesday as details emerged of the troubled fighter's history of drug and alcohol abuse.

A coffin bearing Valero's remains was driven to his birth place Vigia in Venezuela's Andean foothills, where hundreds of fans crammed into the Morochito Rodriguez gym where the boxer began his career.

The 28-year-old, nicknamed "The Inca," was charged on Sunday with stabbing his wife Jennifer Carolina Viera de Valero to death in a hotel room in the city of Valencia.

He hung himself in jail with his clothes after confessing to her murder, police said.

Valero was laid to rest in the same cemetery his 24-year-old wife was buried a day earlier and where her relatives had accused authorities of ignoring a pattern of domestic abuse.

"The only thing we ask for is justice, the death of my daughter cannot stay like this," her father, Armando Viera, said Tuesday by his daughter's grave some distance from the boxer's.

"Her mother and I repeatedly told the security forces ... about the Inca's abuse of my daughter, and they never believed us, now this happens."

SEVERE POVERTY

Valero, the father of two children, had a troubled start to 2010, detained in March for mistreating his wife and then receiving treatment for alcohol problems.

His wife was taken to hospital earlier this year with fractured ribs and a damaged lung. She initially accused Valero of causing the injuries, but later changed her story to say she had fallen down some stairs.

A high-profile supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Valero had a national flag with an image of Chavez tattooed on his chest.

He was briefly placed in a rehabilitation center and was due to travel to Cuba for a government-funded trip to recover from substance abuse, but the trip was delayed after he had a car crash.

Valero was being groomed to fight world welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, promoter Bob Arum said this week.

Arum, who co-promoted the boxer's last two fights, had heard rumors of drug and alcohol troubles, but said he had never seen evidence of it himself.

His trainer Oscar Isnaurdy Ortega had never seen any signs of violence outside the ring, he told Reuters.

Born into severe poverty as the third of eight children, Valero had frequently slept in the gym as a teen-ager and went without food.

"He sold vegetables and garlic as a boy in the Railway Plaza of Vigia, then he worked in a bicycle store," Ortega said.

(Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Ian Ransom)