One of Sacramento's most successful athletes has decided to step into a very different ring from the one he used to dominate.
It's been 16 years since Tony "The Tiger" Lopez retired from the ring as a three-time world boxing champion.
It's been 15 years since he opened his bail bond business. In that time, he says he's seen firsthand Sacramento's criminal and social problems.
"You would not believe what happens in Sacramento," says Lopez. "You would think, 'This happens here?' You know how many times I'm looking around going, 'What the hell am I even doing here?' You know? And this is in Sacramento. Without my job, I would have never known what's going on. You know? Do we have a problem? Of course, we have a problem. Do I have a way to fix that? I have ideas of a way to fix that. Yeah, of course, I do or else I wouldn't be trying to do what I'm trying to do."
Lopez says he helped five former employees start their own bail bonds companies. He says the creation of jobs is vital to reducing crime and strengthening the city.
Lopez and current Mayor Kevin Johnson share some commonalities. Both were successful professional athletes and both are Sacramento natives.
On Thursday, as Lopez' campaign staff released a statement that said he would be running for the soon-to-be-vacant mayor's seat, Lopez was working out at a gym downtown.
He says he also knows how to organize people.
"Just because I have the foundation doesn't mean I know how to build a building, but I have people that do that.," he says. "You know? I know people. I know everybody."
While working out, he wore a shirt that said, "Your ego is not your amigo."
"Just because it's my idea, doesn't mean it's set in stone," he says. "You know, if someone has a better idea, hey, man, let's go with that one. It's about the negotiations, that's what it's all about, man."
Lopez says housing the homeless is one of his priorities. He would push to use city land for homeless housing. He says he already has commitments from local builders to construct 600-square-foot lofts for the homeless at a cost of $2,500 each.
He also says he has an idea for a weekly, family-friendly arts and music event that will stretch from downtown Sacramento to Old Town.
"Wouldn't it be cool if you're walking down holding your kid's hand, you're walking down the street and all of a sudden a flash mob happens and you're walking out in the middle of it, going, 'Wow, this is cool!'" he says. "Your kids are there. It's a great time. Why not? You know, who says we can't do it? We have the people. We have the music studios. We have the dance studios. We have everything that we need. You know? And, you make it fair for everybody. You do it right, man. And there's a way to do it right."
Lopez says he would fight to keep parking fees from increasing any more than they already have. He says higher fees will only keep people from visiting downtown.
Besides operating two bail bond locations, he's also been acting. He has nine acting credits and three producer credits on his resume- including seven current projects. He says he has been asked by Director Quentin Tarantino to co-star in an upcoming film about a drug cartel.
Lopez will face former state senator Darrell Steinberg, current city councilwoman Angelique Ashby and homeless-housing activist Russell Rawlings.
Lopez says he expects to spend about $25,000 of his own money on his campaign.
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