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Gonzalez Admits Mistake on Endorsements in Race

June 29, 2002|SEEMA MEHTA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Olympic gold medalist Paul Gonzalez mistook friendly expressions of support for political endorsements in the Los Angeles City Council's 14th District race, his campaign admitted Friday.

Neither former Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks nor county Sheriff Lee Baca endorsed Gonzalez, as he said last week.

"While I have great respect for Paul as an Olympian and as a man dedicated to making the lives of children in his community more meaningful, I have not endorsed any candidate in the 14th Council District," Parks said.

Gonzalez, 37, is a motivational speaker who teaches boxing at Hollenbeck Youth Center, where he trained for the Olympics.

He is mounting his first campaign for public office.

"He talked to both of them personally, and they told him they support him 100%. He took that as an endorsement," said spokesman Fred Zermeno.

Gonzalez, who won the gold medal in boxing at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, is one of three men who have filed papers to challenge Councilman Nick Pacheco for the 14th District seat in March.

Former state Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa is also weighing whether to enter the race.

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