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Home » Mauricio Sulaiman column: WBC Family – Past and present champions

Mauricio Sulaiman column: WBC Family – Past and present champions

He was often seen sitting in the crowd at fights, even during his years as President. He founded the WBC in hopes of establishing a platform that would look after the needs and integrity of the boxers. Today, boxing is much different from what it was then, and the WBC prides itself for making most of the changes that have made boxing safer and better. Many rules have been changed and adjusted, some rules and procedures have been implemented, and we continue to perform medical research and pilot tests to find new ways to protect our heroes – those warriors who climb into the ring, putting their lives on the line – from reducing championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds in the early 80s to the current WBC-VADA Clean Boxing Program.

Only two days ago, tragedy struck our sport with the death of Mike Towell, who passed away in Scotland. We all mourn his death with deep feelings, and it makes all of us involved in boxing go back and continue to study and research, and to be proactive to implement measures to minimize the risks.

One of the WBC’s top priorities is to implement is the “Boxers Monthly Tracking System,” a one-page form which is a personal record for each fighter. It records the weight of the boxer, the amount of training days, and the number of rounds that he or she sparred. It also has the space to write any occurrences such as injury, disease, knockdowns or knockouts in sparring, headaches, etc. We know it is a long and difficult process to implement worldwide – it will take time and effort – but eventually this will serve as base information for the evaluation of each fighter’s condition and will lead to prevent injuries and lower risks as much as possible. Many of the problems from boxing come from the gym and not from the fights.

My dear father, Jose Sulaiman, dedicated his life to boxing and boxers. That is how the WBC was shaped to be the best organization in our sport, simply because we are close to the boxers before, during and after their championship years. Regardless of the stature of a boxer, they are always welcome in the WBC family – amateur, a four, six, eight, or 10-rounder, a champion or former champion – all boxers are active members of the WBC. It is easy to be friends and to be close with today’s champions, something that anyone can do . But the WBC treats every fighter as a champion. We support the ones who are starting, we support the current champions while they reign, and most importantly we stand next to all those who were heroes in the ring one day, and struggle after those years of glory.

Boxing lost a great champion, Bobby Chacon, a few weeks ago. Bobby went into the path of no return after years of difficulty with health and finances. He was a man who was as brave as anyone, who fought the best of his era, a two-time WBC world champion and a man who was kind and for a wonderful smile. The WBC family united to secure an honorable farewell and he will is now resting in peace at San Fernando Mission Cementary next to Bob Hope and Ritchie Valens.

This past week, I was so happy to meet in person a sensational prospect who represented the United States in Rio’s Olympic Games – Carlos Balderas visited the WBC office in Mexico with his uncle and his brother, Jose. His family, of Mexican heritage, established roots in the U.S. and all are hardworking and honorable. Carlos and Jose are boxers and have a bright future ahead of them. I marveled to hear how they both dream of capturing the Green and Gold WBC belt in the future! It is always humbling to see a fighter express their dream with such passion. These comments and actions are the fuel that keep the green machine moving forward, and the motivation to all our members – from all 165 affiliated countries – to always work to keep the WBC at the top of this great sport.

Carlos was the winner of an amateur show that the WBC fully supported through the WBC Amateur Committee and the Sheriff´s office, with the Alhambra Boxing Gym in California. It was a great show and Carlos was one of the three winners of a WBC amateur belt! I must also mention how frustrating it is to know how boxing authorities in the amateur world act. Carlos was harassed by USA Boxing, and was even threatened to be taken off the Olympic team – even though he had won his slot by winning competitions – all because he was proud to show his WBC Amateur belt.

Our relationship with today’s champions is formidable. Most of the WBC champions are personal friends of many WBC executives and members, and our champions share the values and principles that position the organization in a special place. Our champions are proud to be part of the WBC, and they feel at home. Most champions have a long-lasting relationship with the WBC, which creates loyalty and comfort.

Deontay Wilder: one of the last executive decisions my father took, when Wilder was appointed mandatory contender, was for him to immediately fight the winner of the vacant heavyweight title fight between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola. Even with many questions and much criticism, the WBC stood by its mandate and Wilder proved in the ring that it was the right decision – he won the title and has successfully defended it four times. He created the WBC Champion Bracelet which is now exclusive to WBC champions!

Tony Bellew lost as mandatory challenger in a WBC light heavyweight championship fight against Adonis Stevenson in light heavyweight. Bellew was promised to have another title shot, and he is today the WBC cruiserweight champion of the world.

Adonis Stevenson flew to Mexico City to attend my father’s funeral, and has spent time with my family on Christmas vacations.

Badou Jack is a dear friend. He has been at many WBC events with his wife, and with their baby form a beautiful family.

Gennady Golovkin has been very close to the WBC. He visits Mexico regularly, attends all of our conventions, and has also spent vacation time with our family.

Jermell Charlo won the WBC Continetal Americas title back in 2013. He won the WBC vacant super welterweight championship and immediately produced a unique, beautiful ring.

Danny Garcia was our super lightweight champion and is now our welterweight champion. He has been very close to us over the years. He also created a unique piece when he became WBC champion.

Terrence Crawford recently won the WBC super lightweight championships. and keeps close communication with us. All of his team wear the WBC champion teeshirts!

Jorge Linares has been close to the WBC for many many years, and a personal friend. He is an exemplary family man who is going through the best time in his life.

Dejan Zlaticanin, the first world champion ever from Montenegro, is so proud and so loyal, a true role model and representative of the green belt.

Francisco Vargas has been very close to us since his Olympic years. He used to visit my father continuously and waited to fight for the WBC championships even though he was offered other alternatives.

Gary Russell Jr. has been to several WBC Cares events, and is very active in socially responsible actions.

Oscar Escandon only wants to fight for and represent the WBC, our proud interim champion from Colombia.

Hosumi Hasegawa and Shinsuke Yamanaka have been with the WBC for many years, and have been present at more than five conventions all over the world. Both are family men and role models in Japan.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is also a very dear friend who is always praising God’s work and is active in positive deeds .

Ganigan Lopez went through the complete ladder to get to be world champion. He fought for and won most of the WBC affiliated titles, and remained loyal with his dream to win the Green Belt.

Menayothin from Thailand visited me when I was in Bangkok, and has been to the WBC conventions.

I am so proud of our champions. The WBC owes to all of them what the WBC means to the world and to the sport.

Every champion’s quest begins at the bottom of the mountain, and only through hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and passion does glory arrive, and their lives change and they influence millions around the world. But there are also many who don’t get to capture the glory nor conquer their dreams, but are still and will always be members of the WBC family.

I am so proud of the WBC Board of Governors and Executive Committee members and general members at-large and our ring officials. They all, day after day, participate in looking out for the needs of boxers regardless if it is before, during or after their championship years.