The World Boxing Council completed the second day of its 54th annual convention at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.
The first order of business was the election of officers. Vice President Rex Walker of the United States nominated Mauricio Sulaiman for President and commented, “There’s nobody in the world more qualified for the job than this young man. He’s a good friend of all of us, and I want to nominate him for President.” Vice President Houcine Houichi of Tunisia seconded the nomination, and the Board of Governors elected Mauricio to a four-year term by unanimous vote.
Mauricio said, “Three years ago I was given the trust by the WBC Board of Governors to close the period that my father finished with his passing away in February, 2013. These three years have been a journey that has taught me many important things. My mother and my wife, Christian, were the first ones to make me understand what the life of my father and what boxing – and the WBC, especially – meant to him and meant to us as a family. My father dedicated his life to change the boxing world with the help of the WBC Board of Governors throughout generations.
“I grew up watching and experiencing many of these special happenings. I grew up with Muhammad Ali and Don King and Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard, but also with amateur fighters, four-rounders, six-round fighters in our living room, in our dining hall
“The Board of Governors has been the heart and soul of our organization, and I take this appointment as President of the WBC with great pride. I can vow that I will do my absolute best with the help of the WBC Board, the Executive Committee, and all the promoters, managers, fighters, members of the media, and ring officials that make this the greatest boxing family in a sport that is very difficult and controversial. I’m very thankful. I thank you again for the trust that you have put in me. Thank you very much.”
President Sulaiman then asked the Board to accept the nomination of the current Vice Presidents – Walker, Houchi, Mauro Betti of Italy, Kovid Bhakdibhumi of Thailand, Charles Giles of Great Britain, Alberto Guerra of Panama, and Bob Logist of Belguim – and they were re-elected by a unanimous vote. Mauricio said, “I am very proud of the way we function. We are a democratic body. It’s transparent and as you can see, it’s done on an open floor. Anyone can take the microphone and express and address every single topic.”
A “trainers’ roundtable” coordinated by WBC Technical Director Bob Yalen of the U.S. and hosted by former two-division champion Paulie Malignaggi brought together renowned trainers Joe Gallagher of England and Stacy McKinley, Abel Sanchez, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad of the U.S. It was a very interesting discussion of the issues that a boxing coach confronts, and included insights about hand wraps, sparring, conditioning, hydration, the right time for a cornerman to stop a fight, and a code of ethics. A recurring theme in all of the topics was that a coach needs to know his fighter’s individual temperament and capabilities.
President Sulaiman also asked for opinions on the WBC rule that does not allow a fighter’s father to be the chief second in his corner during a fight and said, “The father is more aggressive towards his son, and lets the fight on too long. That’s what history shows.” Abel Sanchez said that he refuses to train a fighter whose father is involved in his training, although he allows the father to be the second or third assistant in the corner, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad agreed.
A renewal of the WBC’s rule was called for by President Sulaiman, and the motion was made, seconded, and passed by the Board of Governors.
President Sulaiman said, “The WBC has taken a step after two years of preparation. It’s been a difficult road to get to where we are right now with regards to fighting the doping situation in sports. Boxing is not a dirty sport, and we don’t think there’s a major problem with performance enhancing drugs being taken by the fighters – on purpose to take an advantage in the fights. However, it is a major problem for society, for sports, and for anyone who has not the full knowledge of what they’re taking into their body.
“Dr. Margaret Goodman, the President of VADA, has been working with the WBC to create the Clean Boxing Program. She is a determined person, and she has the care of the fighters as her backbone. We started the program and it’s been very successful. She’s going to explain and make a special presentation. There’s no turning back – we are committed to the Clean Boxing Program. We’re committed to teach fighters that they need to understand that they cannot simply take a supplement, a medicine, a substance that has been called by the trainer, manager, friend, or the store attendant. They need to understand that it’s their responsibility for anything that goes into their body.
“We have had cases of testings that we have done and every single time that my phone rings and I see the name Margaret Goodman, I start shaking. But this is part of the program. We are not going back. We are committed to be Clean Boxing Program and I’m very, very proud.
“I would like to present Dr. Margaret Goodman who, unfortunately, could not be here yesterday because we wanted to present to her, in front of the whole audience, the “Woman of the Year” award. I kindly ask you to please come forward to receive the award and make your presentation.”
In her presentation, Dr. Goodman said, in part, “We did start this program not too long ago, and it is a challenge – it is a challenge. This would not have happened without Mauricio Sulaiman. I know originally it was a brainchild of your father’s, because he understood how serious doping could be for a fighter, more than for any other athlete – more than any other athlete, when you think about it. You took this forward. No one else has – no one in this sport.
“You know, after working in this sport for so many years – I started in boxing in around 1994, working as an amateur physician. I always remembered what Duane Ford said to me – because I was idealistic back then, I think I’m still pretty idealistic – Duane said, ‘Margaret, you’ll never change the sport.’ But Mauricio, you have changed the sport. This sets an amazing example. I’m not kidding – I don’t say that lightly. It’s wonderful.
“Bottom line, I am a former ring physician. I worked with the Nevada commission for many years and started the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in 2011. Basically, what we’re trying to do is promote clean sport, and mostly we’re trying to educate the athletes, because I think we find, when we get positive tests, the biggest reason for those positive tests is lack of education. At least I’d like to think that, more than trying to cheat.
“We’re a non-profit. Nobody is paid, none of our officers or board members are paid. Just this year, we performed over 350 blood and urine collections around the world. The Clean Boxing Program that I worked on with the WBC – basically, we follow certain standards. We use only World Anti-Doping Agency accredited labs in good standing. According to what Mauricio recommended, the Top 15 and champions in each weight class are eligible for unannounced random testing throughout the year.
“We use only certified, very highly-trained doping collection officers that collect all over the world. Matter of fact, this is the first time – actually the second time, because the WBC did this two years ago – is we’re having a doping officer collection course here. Clearidium, the main company that we use, is flying in from Denmark and we brought in several candidates to train so that everything is done to the highest standard.
“All of the testing – and I think some of the fighters that we tested are here today – all the testing is random. It’s unannounced and the results are very transparent. The notification of the results go to the WBC, and they go to the promoter, the fighter, and any other association that they work with.
“Before the program started, Mauricio and the WBC contributed to several fights – this is while we were trying to form the program – and I can tell you that when I talked to anti-doping experts around the world, and I’ve talked to many who have set up anti-doping programs, it can take five to 10 years. We’ve done this in just 2 ½ years.
“While we were doing this, Mauricio and the WBC were very good at trying to support the aspect of clean sport and contributed to these fights. All of these fighters participated in our program leading up to a fight, which was maybe anywhere from eight to 10 weeks, sometimes six weeks, leading up to a match. And I’m happy to say that all of these fighters passed. [note: the five fights were Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan, Viktor Postol vs. Lucas Matthysse, Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux, Francisco vargas vs. Orlando Salido, and Gennady Golovking vs. Kell Brook]
“What can we do to clean up sport? Well, this program is the best example. But as I said to Mauricio on a number of times, one of the things that I’m so happy to be associated with this, that you have accomplished what very few in this sport ever accomplish, and I look at what goes on world-wide – is to create some kind of uniformity.
“The fighters that are in the WBC program here, the Top 15 fighters, they also are rated, many by other organizations, they fight for many commissions around the world, and one thing that was always very troubling to me was that we couldn’t create some kind of uniformity.
“I believe that eventually this will go beyond just anti-doping. It will lead to uniformity in brain testing, in how long a fighter should spar before a fight, or those kinds of things. It will lead into what kind of blood tests and urine tests, heart tests, and all these kinds of things, this has the potential to do. These are the things that are really important, to really bring about clean sport.
“So this is the program, and I really encourage you to go on the WBC website – the Clean Boxing Program website – and view the webinar that we have all created, along with Luis Escalona, who works tirelessly to make this a reality.
“This is an education not just for the fighters, but also for the trainers and the cornerman and anyone that really wants to learn about clean sport and what this program is.
“So far, since October when we started this program, the WBC Clean Boxing Program has tested over 23 times – some individuals were tested more than once – but a total of 23 blood and urine collections.”
Dr. Marina Sheppard of Boxrec.com addressed the assembly and said, “This is going to be the quickest presentation of the day. I’m going to talk to you again tomorrow to see, and hopefully give you some information about how you can save time on Boxrec, but today, we are talking about the WBC Clean Boxing Program.
“We were approached by Mauricio, and we thought cooperating with the Clean Boxing Program and the WBC is a very good thing so we have started to put it on our website. As you all know, information is what we’re all about. You can load any page on Boxrec and search a boxer, and look on his profile and it will say if the boxer is enrolled in the program. And if you click on the little icon for information you’ll get all the information about the program.
“I’ll talk to you again tomorrow. Thank you so much.”