Mauricio Sulaiman column: The need for a code of ethics in boxing
Being present at the closing ceremony of Scholas Ocurrentes (Pope Francis Pontifix Foundation) in Metepec, Mexico was highly inspirational.
450 kids from 50 different communities, religions, cultural and economical backgrounds met for five days in order to pin down topics that haunt them. The conclusions were presented by the team leaders and were solid and profound, the document was read in public in the presence of the Governor of the State of Mexico and many other dignitaries, and at no moment were the kids intimidated by their presence. Insecurity and Discrimination were selected as the topics and a lengthy document with many proposals was presented with ideas on how to make things better for the youth of the future.
I was there because the WBC was appointed to create and administer the BoxVal Program (Boxing with Values) by Pope Francis, and our meeting with Jose Maria DelCorral, World President of Scholas, was sensational. The following message was shared, which describes BoxVal and our duties: 2 Nations 1 Dream – BoxVal – transforms walls into bridges in order to allow children from both sides to share their dreams of a world united by peace and sports.
Boxing is a great sport, one which brings out emotions like none other. Every time a fighter steps into the ring, everything is on the line – their future, their pride, and even their lives . Rivalries are common, some take years building up for a whole diversity of reasons, and this natural course brings incredible excitement to fans and media once a fight is signed with rival opponents.
There is a thin line between the hype to build up a fight and the abuse of words, threats, and physical attacks that happen at times.
Most rules in boxing are related to what happens inside the ring, with a few rules that attempt to “regulate” how members of the boxing industry should behave overall. The WBC has provisions that touch on these sensitive matters which include a code of ethics for all members of the WBC and all ring officials.
There is an urgent need to implement the “Code of Ethics of Boxing.”
My father was dramatically hurt when a riot broke out during the press conference to announce Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson. The riot should have never happened, but the fighters were directed to “face off” to create hype and promote sales of the pay-per-view. It got out of control, and my father was inches away from fatality.
Boxing is so honorable, fighters are humble and respectful. They work their whole lives with extreme sacrifices to be successful and become someone in life. Most of them are role models with very positive influence on kids and society. They move masses, motivate, bring excitement, and make the fans’ lives better.
We all make mistakes, but we all deserve the opportunitty to correct them and move forward. I am extremely proud of Adrien Broner and the way he changed with his touching words after his last fight against Adrian Granados. It was a perfect example on how to turn around, after he had been suspended for his offensive and racist attacks in a live interview after one of his earlier fights.
Angel Garcia had a similar experience – a press conference got out of hand and an embarrassing episode took place. I have spoken directly to Mr. Garcia and his son, our proud champion Danny Garcia. Mr. Garcia has met with the New York State Athletic Commission, as well. I am happy to have seen a public apology, which includes some testimonials from people that know him, community service, and a donation to the Joe Frazier Foundation. Angel Garcia deserves the opportunity to move on and use this experience for positive deeds. It is known that he is a man who continuously helps his community, and dedicates time, effort, and resources to serve many through his boxing gym.
Danny Garcia will have the biggest fight of his life this coming Saturday in New York as he unifies the welterweight division against Keith Thurman. Let’s put all the attention on what will happen in the ring. I am certain that Angel Garcia has learned from this experience, and now understands that any action in public also represents what happens in boxing .