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Vargas Has Right to Voice Opinion

August 05, 2000

The information conveyed by Manuel Herrera in a letter to The Times regarding the donation of $1,000 to La Colonia Boxing Assn. by Fernando Vargas and his critical comments of Oxnard city officials was erroneous, misleading and without merit.

Herrera stated "as past president of the La Colonia Boxing Assn., it was one of my duties to interact with city officials. Although it wasn't always a walk in the park, if it was not for certain city officials, there wouldn't be a La Colonia Youth Boxing Club."

Based on Herrera's own admissions, it was difficult to deal with city officials. However, Herrera is quick to criticize Vargas when he openly conveys how he feels about the poor job city officials are doing. Herrera's criticism is made without knowing all the factsand without being present at the time Vargas conveyed his concerns regarding the city's neglect of the gym.

There are unconfirmed reports that the reconstruction of the gym for La Colonia cost approximately $270,000. This fact will not be disputed and the fact the city secured those funds is highly commendable. The true concern Vargas brought attention to is the maintenance of the gym. I see no justification in spending $270,000 to build a boxing facility if it is going to be neglected. The boxers have inadequate equipment, the facility needs to be painted and there are no funds to send nationally ranked amateurs to competitions.

Herrera stated that Vargas, after making $1.2 million, donated only $1,000 to La Colonia. Herrera is once again wrong. The purse from his fight was incorrect and Vargas donated $2,000, $1,000 in cash and nearly $1,000 in equipment. Additionally, Vargas provided sweatshirts and T-shirts to members of La Colonia.

Most importantly, as a result of his international celebrity, Vargas has brought attention not only to La Colonia but also to the city of Oxnard. One cannot place a value to the amount of exposure that Vargas has brought Oxnard.

Herrera indicated that Vargas should not have called a press conference while donating only $1,000 to show his gratitude. The purpose of the press conference was to bring attention to the gym and raise money for the gym and La Colonia, which is in need of funds.

Vargas does not call press conferences to bring attention to himself or his good deeds. If this was the case, he would have allowed his publicist to send out press releases for previous acts of kindness, which include donating $7,000 worth of turkeys on Thanksgiving 1998 and personally distributing them in the La Colonia neighborhood and other areas of Oxnard. Vargas also spent upward of $10,000 during Christmas of '98 and '99 to buy toys for less fortunate children in the Oxnard area. Each time Vargas did not want media attention.

Herrera stated that money raised as a result of an Oscar De La Hoya fund-raising appearance were used to benefit Vargas. At no point in time has any money been given to Vargas, used to purchase equipment for Vargas or paid for his travel expenses raised through that fund-raising event.

Vargas clearly recalls when he was an Olympic hopeful and city officials informed his trainer, Robert Garcia Sr., that there was no money to support the temporary gym located in the back room of the Boys and Girls Club. Garcia had to make a gym in his backyard to help Vargas reach his dream of being an Olympian.

Vargas has a first-amendment right to express his opinions about public officials. He made comments about the maintenance of La Colonia gym and why the city did not establish a trust fund from where the nationally ranked amateurs might draw funds for travel, board and food. The courage to speak up should be commended and not criticized.


Team Vargas


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