The World Boxing Council completed the third day of its 54th annual convention at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.
Opening the morning session, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said, “The WBC has seen a decline in interest in amateur boxing around the world and the current practice by AIBA to threaten the integrity of amateur boxing. We have many persons in this room who have, one way or another, participated in making efforts to provide a platform for amateur boxers. The problem here is that AIBA has the blessing of the International Olympic Committee, and then every country has to have an affiliation with AIBA in order to participate in international competitions and the Olympic Games. So they have that as their strength, and abuse the power and hurt many countries. We have many that suffered like Spain, we have Italy, we have Mexico, Uruguay, Canada. Everybody is very concerned because AIBA is going in the direction that does not care for the athlete and only cares for financial and commercial matters.
“The WBC, through the Continental Federations, has been working and been part of important tournaments, like the ones Sampson Lewkowicz put in Uruguay and Miguel de Pablos and his team have put in Spain. We have had many successful events, even in the United States – in California, Colorado, Illinois, and other places.
“This year, AIBA took away the headgear from the competition in the Olympic Games and we can see the slides where those cuts, with fighters who were winning fights, had to leave and were prohibited from participating in the medal rounds because of an elbow or a head clash or a punch.
“Carlos Balderas, who is turning pro, was part of the California WBC tournament, only to receive a phone call from Mike Martino of USA Boxing telling him that he was being expelled and that he could not participate in the Olympics. One week ago, we did a sparring event for women. This event was sparring with women doing charity work. We gave belts to the women who sparred with headgear. It was just sparring, there was no commission, only to have a phone call and a letter from Mike Martino threatening those girls and advising them that they had been expelled from USA Boxing.
“This practice is happening all over the world. They go and they threaten whoever participates as a boxer, manager, trainer, physician, ring official – whoever participates in anything other than what they do, and they are expelled.
“I’d like to open the floor to those who have participated in some way, and to have a report and come out with a committee that is going to be working for the year 2017.”
David Walker of England reported on an amateur program that was started in the U.K., and Sampson Lewkowicz, related how he invested his own money to start a commission in his native Uruguay called Comision Uruguaya de Boxeo Amateur y Profesional, or CUBAP, and has presented 14 events there. President Sulaiman commented, “The model that Sampson established in Uruguay can be copied by people in other countries. He has been very successful and the WBC will continue to support him.”
Boxrec.com founder John Sheppard of England addressed the assembly and said, “I founded the Doncaster Amateur Boxing Club, and this year we were very fortunate – we had three national champions. But we are no longer the Doncaster Amateur Boxing Club. We are now the the Doncaster Boxing Academy, because AIBA said that we can’t use the word ‘amateur.’ The Amateur Boxing Association in England is now called England Boxing. Nobody is happy with this situation, but they’re holding the Sword of Damocles over our heads, which is entry into the Olympics. If you don’t get entry into the Olympics, the government will not give the sport funding.”
Promoter-matchmaker Boxu Potts of Trinidad and Tobago talked about the amateur situtation there, and WBC featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. (left) talked about his “bittersweet” Olympic experience, as well as his brother’s in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Ratings committee member Dean Louis of the United States received the WBC “Officer of the Year” award, and Luis Escalona of the United States won the “Working Horse Award” for his work on the Clean Boxing Program.