If you are wondering what happened to the immensely popular Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo after his devastating loss to James Kirkland in Mexico last year, you are not alone. I got a telephone call from the Mexicali slugger yesterday. His attorney, Lucy Haro translated our interview.
“Where are you calling from?”
“El Centro Detention Center,” replied Angulo who has been there for the past four months.
“How did you end up there?”
“With the help of my attorney I turned myself in at the port of Calexico to the ICE officials. I am doing everything correctly and legally. I don’t know exactly all the laws but I was following the guidance of my attorney and I cannot give the specific details of my process, but you can ask my immigration attorney Kelly O’Reilly and he could probably disclose more information. There are about five hundred people in detention here. There are barracks and there are like sixty four people detained in each barrack section.”
“How are they treating you?”
“All day to day officers are very nice and treat me good and do their job correctly with respect,” replied Angulo. “The only one who really doesn’t follow American rules or the principles of the U.S. is the director who runs this place. It’s the reason why I am still here. Anything I have requested has been denied or delayed or lost; starting with asking for tennis shoes all the way to being granted an access to my personal belongings. I feel they are doing it just to bother me but it is not right, because everything I requested are things I am entitled to.”
Alfredo wouldn’t give me director’s name, but I looked it up on ICE official website. If you are interested you can check www.ice.gov
“I want to thank all my fans,” continued Angulo. “Because since I made this information public last night, I heard that everybody on Twitter and Facebook just wanted to show their support to me and have only said positive things about me. All their love and care, their words move me especially after everything that they said on the Internet.”
Angulo’s troubles began at the tail end of 2010 after he cut ties with his promoter Gary Shaw who at the time was responsible for securing work authorization for his star fighter. Angulo ended up in Mexico unable to secure a proper work visa in Untied States. Few insiders believe that Gary Shaw had something to do with Alfredo’s inability to stay in America. In 2011 Alfredo Angulo signed a contract with a new promoter, Golden Boy and secured a major fight with James Kirkland which was televised by HBO live from Cancun, Mexico. The fight with Kirkland turned out to be a major disaster, but it pales in comparison with what Alfredo had to endure at the ICE detention Center for the past four months.
It took guts of a true warrior for Angulo to turn himself in to the authorities, but what I wanted to know was if his new promoter was trying to help him out.
“Golden Boy didn’t know until recently,” continued Alfredo. “They were not very sure of any of the details and that I was stuck here. They found out when it was close to the fights for Canelo (vs. Mosley) and Mayweather (vs. Cotto), and three days after that, Oscar came to visit me to show his support. When Oscar was here I spoke to him about my situation and he saw the place and the circumstances and he was probably disillusioned by it so he asked to speak to director personally along with Michael Miller. Michael Miller has been trying for a couple of weeks to make an appointment with him, but his calls or letters were never responded to. Oscar asked for this director wanting to know what my situation was exactly, but the director would not come out to see him or speak to him. The secretary on the phone told them that they had to make an appointment and attorney Miller got upset and said – well, how do you make an appointment if no one returns our calls for two weeks?”
Months in detention can affect any human being, especially an athlete. “What about staying in shape?”
“I try to stay in shape in the yard when I am out there I try to do some things , but mostly what I can do is do pushups and work on the bar and I learned to play hand ball and I play hand ball every day now,” replied Alfredo. “At first not many people would recognize me because I had to grow a beard and my hair so no one would recognize me while I was in Mexico and when I entered here a lot of people were not sure who I was, but the word spread quickly and everyone is very kind to me, especially the ones who are boxing fans and didn’t recognize me.”
“How do you keep yourself from going stir crazy?”
“My biggest frustration is because a lot of people are stuck here because of bad lawyers, who are very unethical,” replied Angulo. “They rob these people, knowing that they don’t have a chance to stay and take their money. A lot of people are here from Central America. A thousand dollars is a lot of money and these people rely on their families to get the money from their countries and they do all these sacrifices thinking they are going to be able to stay here, but instead they are stuck here for a year, sometimes more and lawyers keep telling them they have a chance to appeal and in the court they don’t even speak. The attorneys don’t even represent them. So many families are destroyed by this and that’s what breaks my heart. Not only are they stuck here, they lose their liberty thinking that there is going to be justice in the end, but their families are also persecuted financially, because they spent all their money that they borrow from friends and family with the hope that this person is going to be free and allowed into United States and one day will be able to pay them back. So there is a lot of suffering here, not only by the ones detained, but by their families.”
“You on the other hand have a good representation and yet you are still there,”
I said. “When is your next court date?”
“I do have good lawyers and the process was never supposed to take this long,” replied Angulo. “It shouldn’t have to be this long for me to be in here, but I made a pact with my lawyers that if I was going to stay here and spend all this time here I was going to do something positive and that means helping all the people here; as many as I can, because they don’t know the rules, they don’t know the laws. They don’t know what they are entitled to. They’ve had bad lawyers or they don’t have lawyers, so I’ve been guiding them. I am trying to educate them. We’ve helped to release a lot of people. It’s not enough. Even my lawyers, Lucy Haro and Kelly O’Reilly have been working pro bono for some of these cases, to make sure that they have some kind of better life and make sure that they aren’t wasting their time living here with false hopes. So that is the only thing that comes me down right now, that I want to do something to help other people and help these immigrants and hope that they don’t have to go through this as long as I do and hopefully be an example for other immigrants out there. The biggest thing is for them to get proper legal representation. My next court date is in June.”
Alfredo doesn’t think his fans or supporters would be allowed at his next hearing. He said:
“But it would be great for the director here to see how much love and support I have from the people and that there are a lot of people who support my cause and a lot of immigrants who understand the situation and who would want to stand there in solidarity with me and I think if it was allowed that there would probably be lines and lines of people because that is what amazes me about boxing community that I’ve had such great support over the years.”
“Do you have any hope of getting out of here?”
“Hope, it’s more about legal right,” Angulo said. “I have the right process. I have the legal right to be allowed out of here. That is my right if things go right with my court process. I think that they have no legal grounds to keep me here, but ICE right now believes they have that power. I think it would be illegal and unethical for them to keep me here even now or after my court process is finished, it would be wrong.”
According to his attorney, Lucy Haro, the 29-year old Alfredo Angulo doesn’t have a criminal record in United Sates or Mexico. So why is he still behind bars?
“You probably don’t even understand how much tougher it is when you are up against one person who thinks he has absolute power here,” said Angulo. “And I don’t believe that the United States Government in Washington D.C. even realizes the kind of person he is and the way he runs things here. They are not the values of American people. This is not what U.S. Government stands for. I just think because of the location he’s been able to do a lot of things here. And so my fight really feels like it’s between me and him more than me and the U.S. Government. That’s become my mission is for Washington D.C. to realize who this person is and how he mistreats people here. I believe that they don’t know and that they should know and this is probably the reason why God has me here. It took me a long time to accept this, but I do feel that God has put me here to help others and to not let them be unjustly treated. It’s my fight right now to help them and I thank God for whatever he’s given me and even putting me here. This is what I am supposed to do now as part of my life story.”