Venezuelan boxing champ commits suicide

By Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan champion boxer Edwin Valero hanged himself with his own clothes early on Monday from the bars of a prison cell where he had been detained for killing his wife.

"A prisoner nearby heard noises inside the cell and told officials, who immediately went and found the boxer Valero hanging with his own clothes," Flores told state TV.

The 28-year-old father of two, nicknamed "The Inca", was charged on Sunday with stabbing his wife to death in a room at the InterContinental Hotel in the city of Valencia.

Police said he had confessed to the murder of Jennifer Carolina Viera de Valero, 24.

Valero had a troubled start to 2010, detained in March for mistreating his wife and then receiving treatment for alcohol problems. He was listed by the WBC as its "champion in recess" in the lightweight category.

"TERRIBLE LOSS"

His representative, Hilmar Rojas, told Reuters he had come out of a five-day rehab stint earlier in April and was due to fly to Cuba for more treatment.

But that trip was delayed after he had a car crash.

"This is a terrible loss for Venezuela, and especially for his family," she said. Valero had two children, a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.

A high-profile supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Valero had a national flag with an image of Chavez tattooed on his chest, and once shadow-boxed in jest with the president. (www.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVO17-gPiSY)

Valero's manager, Jose Castillo, said the boxer should never have been allowed out of the rehabilitation center.

"This is a huge tragedy for the world of boxing, we are so sad," he told reporters.

The president of Venezuela's Boxing Federation, Fran Lopez, said Valero's unfulfilled potential would forever be lamented, but he had only himself to blame.

"We thought he could give a lot of joy to the nation and to boxing, but now that will never be the case, it's a situation out of all our hands," he said.

"The 'Inca' Valero is the only one responsible for what happened, for his behavior." (Editing by Doina Chiacu)