The Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andy Lee boxing match set for the Sun Bowl on June 16 was canceled by the University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa on Tuesday. Read below for the reactions of city, local, and border leaders.
El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson
This morning Deputy City Manager David Almonte and PD Chief Greg Allen are initiating contact with the UT PD Director and other local federal agency contacts to see if we can validate the risk assessment that resulted in this finding and outcome. In meantime, my office has initiated an ORR to the UT Chancellor's Office for the following:
- Documented risk assessment and analysis that resulted in safety concerns warranting the cancellation of the fight event at Sun Bowl stadium;
- Documentation of any other events that have not been approved at UY system over past 5 years;
- Documentation of other similar fight events that HAVE been approved over past 5 years and where; and
- Documentation of any U state dollar investments in any system athletic facilities over past five years.
We are confirming whether UT Austin is hosting an ESPN fight event at its facility this weekend. There apparently is a rumor.
The Mayor's Office is coordinating to get formal action on behalf of all federal, state and local elected officials and to put together a delegation of elected and other university and city officials to meet with the Chancellor on this issue and try to reverse decision and/or get assurances about other future activities at Sun Bowl in light of possible local funding for improvements. My office will be assisting him in coordinating this meeting to the extent needed
We will keep you posted of any updates as they come about and have centralized all City formal activities and communications thru Mayor's Office or City Manager's Office. Anything coming from City Manager's Office is in conjunction with Mayor's Office.
El Paso Delegation Demands Answers From Chancellor Cigarroa
April 25, 2012
Dear Chancellor Cigarroa:
We write to you today to express our strong opposition to the decision by the University of Texas System to cancel the World Middleweight Championship boxing match, which was scheduled to take place at the Sun Bowl on June 16, 2012. According to media reports and Hall of Fame boxing promoter Bob Arum, the decision was attributed to security concerns related to a potential risk of border violence.
The UT System's response does not articulate what specific facts or evidence gave rise to an assessment of "higher than normal" risk. This decision is ill-informed, baseless, and destructive.
It is shameful considering El Paso's history demonstrates that we can successfully host these types of events without any incidence of violence. UTEP has hosted world-class championships in the past, and in fact, just last weekend, the campus hosted the nationally broadcast WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship fight at the Don Haskins Center.
We request that you reverse your decision and reinstate the event as scheduled.
José Rodríguez, Texas Senate District 29; Joe C. Pickett, Texas House District 79; Chente Quintanilla, Texas House District 75; Marisa Marquez, Texas House District 77; Naomi R. Gonzalez, Texas House District 76; Dee Margo, Texas House District 78.
Congressman Silvestre Reyes
Today, Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) sent a letter to UT Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa expressing his disappointment with the Chancellor's latest decision to cancel the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. sporting event. Congressman Reyes also requested that the UT Administration reverse its decision immediately and invited the UT Chancellor and the UT Board of Regents to visit El Paso. Below is a statement from Congressman Reyes:
"El Paso is the safest large city of over 500,000 in the country. In El Paso-we pride ourselves in hosting large functions, dignitaries, heads of state, and ambassadors. I am disappointed with the UT Administration's decision to cancel the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. sporting event and have contacted UT Chancellor Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa to express my concern. During my conversation with Dr. Cigarroa, I suggested our local law enforcement agencies, the El Paso County Sherriff's Office and the El Paso City Police Department, meet with the UT System Police-Office of the Director of Police to address any concerns Dr. Cigarroa may have in regards to hosting the sporting event in El Paso. I have also reached out to the El Paso Intelligence Center and asked for a threat assessment of the City of El Paso. Finally, I asked Dr. Cigarroa that he reverse his decision immediately. I have an open invitation to all the UT Board of Regents and Dr. Cigarroa to visit El Paso so they can see for themselves the beauty and life of our great and safe city."
Border Network For Human Rights
Border Communities are Outraged by UT Chancellor's Depiction of El Paso Cancellation of boxing match is based on lies about the border and was politically motivated
The decision by UT Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa to cancel the boxing match between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee is based on unfounded perceptions of the border and the people who live here.
Last December, El Paso was again ranked as the safest large U.S. city for the second year in a row. Prior to this, El Paso has been named either the 2nd or 3rd safest large city for the last 12 years.
Despite these facts, Chancellor Cigarroa chose to cancel the much-anticipated match over unspecified "safety and security concerns."
"We reject the depiction of our city as unsafe," said BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia. "You cannot ignore the political element here, when our own governor lies about our city and says there are car bombs going off in downtown El Paso, it is unfair to the communities that have made this the safest city in the nation."
The announcement that the match had been canceled came the same morning that President Bill Clinton was in town to campaign for Rep. Silvestre Reyes and just days after a Saturday boxing match at the Don Haskins Center.
"You look at that and you can see why El Pasoans feel insulted," Garcia added. "And the worst part is that it's not just an insult, it's an insult based on lies about our city."
BNHR is calling on the Chancellor to reverse this decision and to apologize to border communities.
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The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations in the U.S. BNHR has over 5,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.