This past week, boxing lost a true advocate of women’s boxing. Raul Cruz passed away in Mexico City.
Don Raul was a childhood friend of my father in their hometown of Victoria City. He moved to Mexico City years after my father did and eventually became a boxing promoter/agent. Raul Cruz was a strong supporter of women in boxing, and he made a match which changed the future of the sport: He brought Laura Serrano to fight Christy Martin at the MGM Grand on the undercard of a Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez card. Serrano was a huge underdog, dressed in a humble uniform, and Martin was the fans’ favorite with a satin pink uniform. The fight was great and ended up in a draw. It opened the eyes of the world to female boxing and Laura became the inspiration of fighters in Mexico. Today, Mexico has eight great world champions in women’s boxing. Don Raul was able to see the success even when he was not part of the promotions. He was proud that his work paved the way for others .
Women’s boxing has had great success in several countries, such as Mexico, Japan, and Argentina. There have been great champions in Germany, Australia, Canada, and many other areas of the world. The United States has had its run in the past. Laila Ali is the greatest female fighter, and she was very succesful. Christy Martin, Mia St John, and Lucia Rijker were sensational, but then it all faded away. Promoters and television corporations didn’t step up and give women that much needed opportunity.
Today it seems that things will change, and 2017 will finally give women a spot on TV and in the promotions. Lou DiBella has been a supporter, K2 and Tom Loeffler have started to put them on their cards, and Golden Boy has also promoted a few female fights. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza has confirmed his support for women’s boxing, and that is a huge statement!
Claressa Shields just made her pro debut after winning gold in two consecutive Olympic Games, and she can be the leader of the new generation. Maricela Cornejo has proven to be very popular and attracts fans and social media. Amanda Serrano is making huge news, and can become the first blockbuster fight if she fights WBC champion Jelena Mrdjenovich, and a potential U.S. presentation of the pound-for-pound queen, Cecilia Braekhus.
Jill Diamond brought her passion into the WBC, and she demanded my dear father, Jose Sulaiman, to create the WBC Women’s division. So in 2004, the WBC began sanctioning female boxing and Jackie Nava became the first-ever WBC world champion. After 12 years, we can proudly say today that our women’s boxing program is one of a kind. We have had two successful womens’ boxing world conventions, with the third coming up next February. Medical research and very close relationship with all fighters, trainers, managers, and promoters has given us the path to success. The WBC does not charge any sanction fees from the fighters to help develop their careers.
The WBC has also implemented specific rules for their protection, including:
· 2 minute rounds – The WBC bans 3 minute rounds, and will never allow this irresponsible proposal.
· 10 round fights – The WBC bans 12-round fights, and will never allow a woman fight more than 10 rounds.
· Development of the women’s glove by Cleto Reyes and Everlast.
· Mandatory 14-day before the fight, and day before the fight pregnancy test.
· 1 pound flexibility at official weigh-in due to the monthly cycle.
· And many more …..
The WBC has worked very hard to bring dignity to the heroes of the ring, to search for opportunities and better purses. Female fighters have done their part. They are always in shape, never pull out of a fight, always on weight, and they fight their hearts out minute by minute, round after round, and fight after fight.
The WBC chairman of the Female Committee is Malte Muller-Michaelis, and he is working diligently to create a platform to showcase women in boxing on television all around the world. There are many great things coming, and be on the lookout as women are coming to box and to give fans their best in 2017!
A huge salute to all those hidden heroes who have supported female boxing thoughtout the years: Sue Fox, Arnie Rosenthal, Don King, Top Rank, Mercedes Vazquez, Ulrich from SES Boxing, Sauerland, Universum, Promociones del Pueblo, Zanfer, Luigi Olcese, Wanda Bruce, Barbara Buttrick, Ryan Wissow, Butch Gottieb and Mary Ann Owens, Erik Morales, David Avila, Nancy Rodriguez, and so many more to whom I apologize for not listing their names.