CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Former world champion boxer Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and killed in his native Venezuela, police said Tuesday.
Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found shot to death Tuesday on a road in the central state of Miranda, local police chief Eliseo Guzman said. Guzman said Cermeno and other relatives were kidnapped Monday night near the La Urbina neighborhood in east Caracas. The relatives escaped when the kidnappers stopped to refuel the car, but the former boxer remained captive, Guzman said.
Cermeno, 44, retired in 2006 with a 45-7 record. His slaying comes on the heels of the killing of popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear in early January. Robbers killed the 29-year-old and her former husband, Thomas Henry Berry, 39, on an isolated stretch of highway while the couple was returning to the capital by car with their 5-year-old daughter.
The high-profile slayings highlight spiraling violent crime in Venezuela, which is one of the spurs to opposition protests that have rocked the South American country in recent weeks. The United Nations ranks Venezuela's homicide rate as the fifth highest in the world.
The non-government Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimates the country's murder rate has quadrupled in 15 years of socialist rule.