The World Boxing Council’s 48th annual convention opened this morning at the Royal Hotel in Cancun. A huge standing-room-only crowd, estimated at around 800, filled the hotel ballroom at this spectacular tropical resort for the ceremonies. The entire WBC Board of Governors, as well as most of the men and women in the general assembly, wore white shirts to show support for the global climate change movement and pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Article posted on 02.11.2010
In his annual opening day speech, WBC President Dr. José Sulaimán said, “I cannot find the words to express my gratitude and happiness to see, once again, all the faces of the my dearest friends and members coming from thousands of miles from all five continents.
“We are two years away from celebrating 50 years in the world of professional boxing. The very best world champions of the last half of the 20th Century, and many of all time, have been WBC champions. Many of the best fights in history have also been of the WBC. Our organization is one of the largest in country affiliations with 164.
“Boxing was, 35 years ago, a legalized sport of savages. I am very proud to say that thanks to all of you, and the Board of Governors, boxing has never been as safe in the whole 300 years that it’s been documented as it is today.
“I am now within a few days of celebrating my 35th anniversary as president of the WBC. Those 35 years have flown faster than the wind. If I could go back, I would take the same 35 years and I would not change one single minute of it, because boxing has given me the key of living.
“I think of the boxers as being my sons. I have done in my life the same as all the members of the Board, and all of you, who try to find the right, appropriate measures for the protection of them.
“I know that my best years have flown away, but I believe that I still count, with the support of all of you in my Board of Governors, to continue to serve the best that I can for boxing and the WBC.
“Boxing today is going in disorganized directions, and even though the WBC green and gold belt is the dream of all boxers in the world, I intend to have a summit of the four best-known boxing organizations of the world, and this summit will be to have only one premiere champion of the world, even when everybody thinks that WBC champion to be the absolute champion.
“I believe that today, many boxing officials of the world are trying to offer only what they want. If we continue this way, we are going to lose direction. We are going to allow others to lead boxing, and that cannot happen. We have the credibility, discipline, and respect to keep boxing a sport for all of us.
“I recommend, once and for all, the institution of an international boxing license. Today we have many pirates in the boxing gyms of the world, stealing fighters from the gymnasiums without medical examinations, without the official provisions of the boxing commissions, taking a featherweight to fight a welterweight, taking a very low level boxer to fight a hero, and commit frauds to the world. We must change that, and we must tell to all the boxing commissions of the world that no boxer coming from any other city or from abroad can fight without this international boxing license. That’s the only way to keep discipline, and really provide for the health and protection of the life of the human being that the boxer is.
“I also intend to re-open, stronger than ever, the WBC’s Awareness Programs against alcohol, drugs, and AIDS, with posters in every single gymnasium of the world from Africa to Mexico to Argentina to Russia. We also want to bring pamphlets with every single item that boxers should know about drugs, alcohol, and AIDS, and how to protect themselves. We are also going to edit videos that we are sending all over the world to give clinics of prevention. We don’t want to cure – we want to prevent them from going to alcohol, drugs, and AIDS.
“It is also very important that we bring uniformity in training. The WBC is starting in January, 2011, the authorization for boxing gymnasiums all over the world to institute national boxing schools with the best accessories for the gymnasiums, with the most advanced medical teachings, the most advanced technical and tactical teachings, according to the 48 years of experience of our organization.
“One of the recent matches I saw was the punishment of a boxer, and the referee did nothing. It has been a custom with referees not to stop any fight until the time they see 15, 20 or more punches without response. Then they will stop the fight. I come to this convention to talk with all the referees here. They are the best in the world, I assure you of that. The WBC judges and referees are the absolute best because they participate in yearly clinics. This is a matter more of basic guidelines, policies, the absolute request that a referee must have as his first objective – the ideal of protecting the condition and the life of the boxer. Everything comes next.
“The judges - unfortunately, many times we have to work with judges of other organizations or local commissions that do not have the slightest idea of the basic guidelines in the rulebook of the WBC. We will demand that the judges have superior training. The judges have justice in their hands. The referees have safety in their hands. No judge can go home knowing that he might be doubted about his competency and honesty. The winner in the ring must be the winner on the cards.
“There are many other things that we are going to see at this convention. I would like to have a new world of boxing. I would like to have a new planning of boxing. I would like to have new opportunities to project into stardom the best boxers of the world. Devon Alexander, to me, is the best in his division. “Cochulito“ Montiel is the best bantamweight. Erik Morales is one of the greatest boxing heroes in Mexico, and he is returning to fight to conquer his fourth title of the world.
“Omar Niño was punished unfairly by an American boxing commission who believes that they rule the world, and they punished him for drugs that did not exist. We tried to make sure that the punishment that he received was right. We took him to a laboratory at UCLA in Los Angeles. They tested the hair that keeps six months – for six months, according to the lab, the hair keeps any substance that might be a drug. There was nothing 45 days after his fight. Fortunately, he was such a good fighter that he came back to regain in the ring his title.
“We have here Carlos Zarate, the greatest bantamweight puncher of all-time. He won his first 23 fights by knockout, most in the first round. He was a great champion, and is now chairman of the boxing commission in Mexico City. We have many great champions here with us. When they go into the ring, they need to know more about what the WBC is. What do they represent? And I ask all of the WBC champions that when they go into the ring, they are representing the world. They are representing many, many poor people in the world who have them as their heroes. Never lose that in your mind. Dignity, pride is what you have to fight for. Money should come second.
“I am sure that the Board of Governors will see, with extreme seriousness, the proposals that I, and others here, are making. We must understand that this is the 21st Century, the 20th Century is behind. We have the future to see, the past is in the books. We must devote the best of ourselves to find how we can keep the sport of boxing from disappearing.
“I would also like to strongly project the reality of my country, Mexico. Mexico is a country of peace, a country of hospitality, of happy people who express their desire for all people of the world to visit us. This is a country of peace, it is not the country that is being signalled in the world as a country of blood and murder. There are many, many countries of the world who do have those problems, but not Mexico. Mexico is in the hands of minorities who are trying to hurt my country because of the organizations of drugs. We have nothing to do with that. We are the passing country to deliver the drugs to other countries where they love it. But we have to suffer the consequences.
“Mexico is the Mexico that you are seeing here, the one that you’ll see in the lobby of the hotel, that you’ll see wherever you go. I kindly ask of you to please help my country by telling your people of all the countries that you come from, what Mexico is, and that we have our doors open to everybody coming from everywhere in the world with the assurance that this is a place of peace.
“2010 is the year of our bicentennial celebration of independence, and also the centennial celebration of the Mexican revolution. A peace that I felt myself, as a child, for Mexico has risen to become the greatest of its history. I have gone from post to post, from border to border, to many boxing promotions that were totally sold out, without one single act of violence seen. That is our Mexico. Boxing has participated to prove that we are a country of a big heart, and also a country of peace.
“To say that I am almost celebrating 35 years as the president, I cannot even believe it myself. I went to resign in Tunis, and I came back as the president. Then I met Mr. Don King, and he was an important factor for the WBC to gain what we have gained. Don and I don the gloves once in a while, but I believe that our feelings are of deep affection.
“There are many, many promoters here, many new promoters, who I believe will be in the future the hope of boxing. All are my friends. And I hope at this convention, we all shake hands. We bury our hatchets and we will continue working for the world of boxing, which is a great sport.
“I believe that during all those years, I have learned many things. I have felt the unquestionable friendship and unity of all the people of the world of boxing. I also learned that a leader, even with multitudes, leads a life of lonliness, and many times of sadness – the fact of giving ourselves to all. Sometimes we perceive that we are empty, that we need attention because of the business that we are in. For we are people like you and me, as human beings, and I have sometimes felt deeply alone.
“I have also learned, in my style, to listen to everybody because if I don’t listen, I will not understand the influence that people would have. I have never seen a king up, and I have never seen a shoeshine boy down. To me, everyone is equal – there’s no difference. Some might be black, some white, some in the middle, but we are of the same heart and same mind, so I always give to everybody the same importance.
“I have always been very humble and simple, because those were the teachings of my father and my mother. I believe that arrogance and pretense are only belongings of mediocre people. Simplicity and humility are the belongings of good people. I detest arrogance.
“I have always tried, in boxing, that we have to prevent, not to ‘be sorry about.’ We have to act to prevent what might happen that is wrong. Also, one of the matters of my style has been to give everything that they want, that they deserve, to all of the people that work around me. They work with loyalty, with determination, all for the sport of boxing. They get the best of the WBC, anything that they want, because they deserve more than me.
“I also take impartiality and justice as the guidance for my life. Justice and impartiality have no substitute.
“I want to have detractors and enemies in my house. Because if they want to pee, I want it to be to the street and not to me.
“Nothing is as important to me as loyalty, because loyalty comes from the heart. Loyalty to our nations, to our institutions. Loyalty is the most important thing for me as a human being.
“I always try to mediate, to resolve, before I go into the ring because those who know me know that when I’m in the ring, I go the 12 rounds. I never stopped before.
“This is the end, and I would like to express to all of you that you make my life. And be assured that on the last day of my life, I will still be breathing boxing.
President Sulaimán also received an award from the Guinness World Records. From the GWR webpage:
LONGEST REIGNING PRESIDENT OF A SPORTING ORGANIZATION SET TO BE CONFIRMED
Another achievement for Jose Sulaiman, President of the World Boxing Council.
Jose Sulaiman Chagnon, who was born in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, is to be inducted into the famous Guinness World Records after 35 years of serving as World Boxing Council President. His tenure as WBC President is set to be confirmed as the world’s longest reigning president of a world sporting organization and earn Jose Sulaiman a new Guinness World Records title.
Jose Sulaiman was first elected as President of the World Boxing Council, which has 164 affiliated countries, on December 5th, 1975, in Tunisia, in Northern Africa. He has been re-elected nine times, being the first one in 1976, in Las Vegas, Nevada; followed by 1980, in Mexico City, Mexico; 1984, in Montreal, Canada; 1988, once again in Mexico City; 1992, in Cancun; 1996, in Buenos Aires; 2000, in Mexico City, 2004, in Phuket, Thailand; and 2008, in Chengdu, China. [End Guinness World Records item]
Guinness World Records webpage link:
The Masters of Ceremonies for opening day were WBC Executive Director Mauricio Sulaiman of Mexico, Special Legal Counsel to the Presidency of the WBC Gabriel A. Penagaricano of Puerto Rico, and well-known Mexican broadcaster Oscar Cadena.
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