By Luciana Lopez
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A leading U.S. promoter of Latino boxing, All Star Boxing Inc, will give free television advertising space to Hispanic civic group Mi Familia Vota, which openly criticizes Donald Trump's anti-immigration stance, in an effort to encourage Latino Americans to vote in November's presidential election.
The partnership will put the name and website of the group on signs in boxing ring corners and on T-shirts worn by the athletes on Spanish language network Telemundo's Boxeo Telemundo program, starting at the end of June, officials at both organizations told Reuters.
The partnership will be announced on Tuesday.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," said Ruben De Jesus, the director of operations at Florida-based All Star Boxing, referring to this year's presidential election.
He said he decided to contact Mi Familia Vota with the offer of free advertising after hearing "just the whole rhetoric with regards to the Hispanic community" in the current election.
He did not mention any candidate by name.
"Our platform is not to tell our Latino citizens who to vote for, but it’s important that this year especially we engage," he told Reuters in an interview, adding the free advertising space could reach as many as 5 million people.
Ben Monterroso, the executive director of Mi Familia Vota, was blunter about the partnership's aim.
"I think Mr. Donald Trump lives in another world," he said. "In my experience working with the community, a big majority of the people that I talk to, they definitely don’t like what Donald Trump has done."
Trump, the Republican who will likely face Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election, launched his candidacy last year by calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration from Mexico, a country he said was sending rapists and drug dealers into the United States.
The wealthy New York businessman has also repeatedly vowed to build a wall along the border and force the Mexican government to pay for it if elected.
More recently Trump angered Latinos by criticizing a federal judge overseeing a fraud trial against Trump University, calling the Indiana-born man a Mexican and, later, saying his Mexican heritage meant he couldn’t do his job properly.
Trump has rejected accusations that his comments are racist and has said he is well-liked by Hispanics. A spokeswoman for Trump was not immediately available to comment.
The partnership between All Star Boxing and Mi Familia Vota will begin on June 24 and run for four events this summer, then another four events after a brief hiatus, comprising 128 boxers in total, De Jesus said.
Half the shows will take place in Florida and half in Mexico.
The fighters will also hold local events in Florida to boost voter engagement in the critical swing state, De Jesus said. That could include visits to political events around Tampa and Orlando, such as helping to register voters.
"The boxers are coming out of their corners to fight for the community," Monterroso said.
Boxeo Telemundo, with an over 25-year history, calls itself the most-watched Spanish-language boxing show in the United States. The show attracts an average 550,000 viewers weekly, especially among men 18 to 49, De Jesus said.
Mi Familia Vota is a non-profit, non-partisan group that works to register Latino voters and get Latinos involved in U.S. political life.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Phil Berlowitz)