THE 12TH ROUND
By Mauricio Sulaiman
This past Saturday, February 11, was the third anniversary of my election as WBC President, and mixed feelings came to my mind: First, the memory of losing my father and the so many things surrounding that loss, including the memorial which took place one day before the election, and the ceremony in which the WBC Board of Governors awarded me with their confidence for me to act as WBC President to finish my father’s term.
I can only express my deep gratitude for the so many people who have given me confidence and support to take on this task. My mother for her wise advice, my wife Chris for her understanding, and the rest of my family for their continuous motivation. To the so many friends in and out of boxing who have been so kind and supportive – thank you all.
On December 13, 2016, I was re-elected as WBC President for a new four-year term. I accepted with humility and honor, and I will do my best effort to continue the search for ways of making boxing safer and better, to continue to have the WBC Green Belt as the ultimate dream for any boxer of the world, and to strive for unity among all involved in boxing and to continue to keep the memory of Don Jose alive.
Our annual convention in Hollywood, Florida, was, all in all, a huge success. The plan for 2017 was put together during all the meetings, and the WBC is certain that this year will be a phenomenal one.
I want to share a recap of what our Plan of Action is, and invite you all to join to make some of this a great success:
WBC/VADA Clean Boxing Program
The WBC has worked very hard with VADA to create the Clean Boxing Program. This is a program that is mandatory for the WBC champions and the Top 15 rated fighters. We have an awareness campaign – we need to teach each of the fighters of the dangers of substances that go into your body. Many trainers, many friends, or even anyone in the sport can give you a recommendation to use a supplement, but if you do not check what it contains, that’s a problem. You can put your body in danger. You have to be very careful. We have the mandatory testing, random testing, and the protocol for some fights, and we are leading in this matter in the world of sports. Join the efforts and participate in any capacity to make boxing clean for our athletes, our heroes !
WBC Amateur Committee
We are going to continue working in the amateur field. We’re going to continue to battle all those irresponsible actions by amateur entities. They’re trying to have professional fighters compete against amateurs in the Olympics. They have taken the headgear out, putting in danger the health of the young kids, and making the competition during the Olympics and the international games very dangerous. Some fighters who would have won a medal were left out of the Olympics due to their cuts. Canada and other countries have overruled the headgear fiasco, and have mandatory headgear in all amateur competition. All should follow!
Our amateur program has been wonderful. We did some work in California. Carlos Balderas, who is now a professional, participated in the WBC amateur program in California. Uruguay, with Sampson Lewkowicz and CUBAP, will have the finals in March and I will be there to crown the amateur champions. We have done work in Spain with the leadership of Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, in Mexico City with the police department and the universities, and so many different groups form all over the country. The amateur program has been a great success, and a very special project is to be launched in months to come which will provide a great platform for all fighters all over the world.
WBC Medical Research
The WBC will continue to have medicine as the top priority. A specific program is taking place with UCLA in search of many different ways of making boxing safer. I am hereby sharing with you the exact words of Dr. David Hovda during his speech at the annual convention. These are self-explanatory and highly motivational. Dr. Hovda addressed the assembly and said, “I met the Sulaiman family in the the 1980s, and José introduced me to a fight. Not a fight of boxing, not a fight of integrity, but a fight of safety for the fighters and the athletes that participate in this sport.
“At that time, we started what we call the SPAR program at UCLA. We're the only university in the United States that was going to dedicate itself to understand the biology – the neurobiology – of what happens inside the brain of the boxer, the mild and traumatic brain injury, and how we could change it, how we could change the rules, how we could make it a safer place. Mr. Sulaiman and his family fostered this, supported this in an environment where it was hostile. It was not believed that things happen, and we were able to show pictures and finally do the research we so desperately needed.
“We changed the rules. We discovered the neurochemistry of the brain and were able to image it. We were able to make it so that an individual knew what their risks were. You know boxing and mild and traumatic brain injury involves the fighter, but it involves the entire family. The whole family gets involved in this.
“I was so blessed to be introduced at that time. We discovered how the brain responds to each blow. The future now is to understand how we can protect fighters better, how we can train fighters better, how we can alter the rules better without taking the excitement and the spirit, and what is so much heart in boxing that we all love.
“This can be done, but this is a fight that José introduced me to in 1989 and has no end. It has no bell. There are no rounds. This is something that we dedicated our career to, and will continue to do so.
“Today, we’re able to start to talk about how many hits can we count. What is the exact amount of energy that each blow gives? When should a fighter be concerned about sparring? When should a fighter consider retiring? What is the difference between a female fighter and a male fighter when it comes to blows to the head. We discovered that this year. I can take a picture of this. I can show you this. This is science – we should not be afraid of science, but embrace it.
“The future holds a great deal of promise. The young people that we have trained are now looking at the long-term consequences, and we will make this an even better sport with the help of the World Boxing Council and the SPAR program that José had a vision of so many years ago.
“I congratulate all of you for coming. I congratulate you, Mauricio, for continuing what your father started. José is here, he's watching over us today, and I pray for all of the family and all of us, that we continue to work as a family, we continue to work with integrity and respect for humanity, and cherish this particular athletic endeavor that we so love.”
These are three of the many topics of action we will address in 2017 – CBP, Amateur, and Medical. We invite you to join in and participate in any way or form – we can do it together !
Thank you and I welcome any comments, ideas or suggestions firstname.lastname@example.org.
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