Former heavyweight boxing champion David “Niño” Rodriguez (shown above right) grew up in the same city as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) (above left) and was acquainted with many of the same people.
But he is not happy with the potential 2020 Democratic candidate’s rhetoric when it comes to immigration and border security.
O’Rourke hosted a competing rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday night and spoke against President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall — at the exact same time the president himself was holding a rally crammed with thousands of people inside.
The president spoke often about keeping the country safe.
But O’Rourke said at his rally, “We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”
David Rodriguez does not take kindly to this line and to O’Rourke’s general messaging on immigration.
In response, he penned an open letter on Facebook to the former congressman — and called O’Rourke a “fraud.”
In part, the letter from Rodriguez read, “You [O’Rourke] prey upon the ignorance and weakness of the desperate and poor. Your selfish, power-ridden agenda fundamentally goes against the hard-fought principles of this great country that our veterans died face down believing in.”
LifeZette spoke by phone to Rodriguez, who is the author of “When the Lights Go Out: From Survivor to Champion,” about O’Rourke, border security, President Trump, and the open letter on Facebook.
As a teen, Rodriguez trained as a boxer in the Mexican border city adjacent to El Paso — Ciudad Juárez. It is a city The El Paso Times reports is the 20th most dangerous city in the world. The Dallas Morning News reported last year it has over 200 murders per month.
It is partly that background and firsthand knowledge that makes Rodriguez declare the things O’Rourke is preaching are “blatant lies.”
“When I was a kid, when they didn’t have the wall, a lot of the kids I sparred with I knew were part of that criminal element,” Rodriguez told Lifezette. “They would easily run across [the border], know where the Border Patrol and posts were, bypass them, do a carjacking, rob the Santa Fe railroad, bring the stuff back, strip down cars, change the VIN number — and sell it. I knew it all too well.”
“People don’t understand this wall has saved lives,” he added. “For this guy to go out there and say, ‘We don’t need the wall’ — he’s just being a cheerleader and all he’s missing are his pom-poms. I’m sitting here watching this, and I’m a fighter at heart, so I’ve got to confront him.”
“There are people coming here to commit crime and live off the welfare system. I know this for a fact.”
Rodriguez said that while immigrants are good people for the most part who are seeking a better life in the United States, it is important to protect against those who are not.
“Some just want to take advantage of the system,” said Rodriguez, who comes from a family of immigrants. “There are some good people who come here, no doubt. I know a lot of Mexican friends who came here legally and even some who came here illegally who are good people. I’m not anti-immigrant, but for every five garter snakes you get — you get a rattler. There are people coming here who aren’t coming here to stock groceries. There are people coming to commit crime and live off the welfare system. I know this for a fact. Trump is right-on here.”
To illustrate the need for border security, Rodriguez made a video with Army veteran and independent journalist Joe Biggs in May 2017. The two shot the video — which has since been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube — to illustrate how easy it is to cross the border from Sunland Park, New Mexico, to Anapra, Mexico, a part of Ciudad Juarez.
In the video, Rodriguez can be seen walking into Mexico and back into America without issue — and a handful of Mexicans walked into America and back into Mexico as well. There were no physical barriers preventing this.
At one point, the border was a line drawn on the ground representing the U.S.-Mexico boundary; at other points, there was nothing at all.
“I have friends who are Border Patrol agents who got on me and said we made them look really bad. I was like, ‘Well, you guys did look bad,’” Rodriguez said of the video. “I shouldn’t have been able to do that, but I could’ve done it blindfolded.”
In addition to the physical barrier, Rodriguez said technological improvements are necessary at the border as well.
He cited the use of drones as part of the solution.
As for O’Rourke’s political prominence, Rodriguez said he is concerned with the leftist’s rise on the national scene.
“His name is not even ‘Beto’ — it’s Robert,” he said. “His whole campaign is based on a lie. When you start off your campaign that way, what else are you lying about? I think he’s just power hungry. He’s taking advantage of the people instead of working with them. He doesn’t have the American people’s best interest in mind. I can’t just let this go. When I see an injustice like this, I have to stand up [to] it.”
“I think he’s dangerous,” Rodriguez added. “He almost won over Texas [in the 2018 Senate race against Ted Cruz]. I’d like to see it stop prematurely before it goes anywhere because of his energy. He’s a cheerleader. He tells people what they want to hear instead of what they have to hear — and people go for it. A lot of people vote with their hearts and emotions instead of their minds.”
Rodriguez is a proud supporter of President Trump’s 2020 re-election bid. The boxer offered praise for the job the president has done thus far.
“To me, politicians are bought off — and he’s the first one who’s not,” said Rodriguez. “He’s kind of rogue. What I see in him is a guy who is standing by his word. He’s fulfilling everything people voted him [into office] for, so to me he’s standing by his campaign promises and I have to respect that. For him to come out as this accidental president and stick to his campaign promises — that’s why the media’s killing him. The media is owned.”
Rodriguez attended Trump’s El Paso rally on Monday and was impressed by the crowd the president drew.
“It looked like a rock concert,” he said. “The line was going for miles down. A lot of the people wearing the MAGA hats were Mexican. People need to know that, but they’re just more quiet about it.”
You can find David Rodriguez’s book here.
For more on this story, check out the video below:
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.