By Mauricio Sulaimán
Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
It all started with an email sent to the general account of our organization. One of the great virtues of my dear late father, Don José Sulaimán, was to attend to absolutely all the issues that came, and from whoever sought him out by letter, email, call or visit.
Jill Diamond wrote a long email calling for women’s boxing to be dignified. Jill lost her husband to the terrible demon of cancer, and fate led her to find meaning when boxing appeared in her life. She began training in this discipline at the Mendez Gym in Manhattan, and she found the brotherhood and sisterhood that exists in the noble sport of boxing.
That email was answered by my dad, and from there and that precise moment followed a historic meeting in Los Angeles and an endless chain of communications, until Jill traveled to Torremolinos, in Spain, to join the WBC at the organization’s annual Convention.
The women’s world championship committee was created, and it was precisely Jackie Nava, “La Princesa Azteca,” the first woman to win a WBC championship. Women’s boxing is a reality and maintains prodigious growth year after year.
Jill continued to recognize the nobility of boxers, of the sport and of all the members of the World Boxing Council, and then she presented her proposal to create a unique program, based on the principles of social responsibility. This is how WBC Cares “Big Champions Supporting Little Champions” was born.
Champions, members of the Board of Governors, ring officials, members of the media, promoters, managers, trainers; In short, any member of the boxing community of the 170 countries affiliated to the WBC actively participates in the WBC Cares events, which include visits to children’s hospitals, schools, gyms, orphanages, rehabilitation centers and even prisons.
Visits full of love, messages of hope, inspiration and resilience. Toys, gifts, autographs and photographs, unforgettable moments and eternal memories for so many people in situations of fragility that need a signal to understand that, like the champions in the ring, with work, perseverance, faith, sacrifice and trust obstacles that occur in life can be overcome and resolved.
We are celebrating the 15th anniversary of this beautiful initiative that José Sulaimán and Jill Diamond created and to which, over the years, thousands of people have joined. We have 26 chapters with continuous programs throughout the year, as well as visits and recurring events around the world.
My wife, Christiane Manzur, directs WBC Cares activities in Mexico, and this has forever changed her life. Being able to serve with heart in hand and living with passion each action, each moment, each visit, has helped her understand why my dad and now I dedicate our lives to this great sport.
DID YOU KNOW…?
The first WBC Cares visit was scheduled at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
Days before, we received a communication that shocked us, as some hospital committee spoke out against receiving “boxers” to visit their patients; something that our sport commonly suffers from, in that irresponsible prejudice that borders on discrimination.
Finally, the visit was approved, and Genaro “Chicanito” Hernández and Érik “El Terrible” Morales, accompanied by Jill, toured various wards and greeted children and relatives fighting cancer. It was a moment that sowed the foundation of what is lived today throughout the world. The event was a success, it exceeded expectations, and everyone’s smiles and enthusiasm were so very impressive.
Chicanito Hernández was impressed and deeply moved by the emotions he experienced that day. A few days later he returned on his own account and brought Nintendos to give to all the little ones that he visited days before.
Later it turned out that our beloved champion was diagnosed with cancer. One day he received a letter from a little boy encouraging him to recover, encouraging him to continue as a champion. Chicanito lost the battle and passed away, and since then he has served as an inspiration to WBC Cares as our eternal champ.
In this 15th anniversary, we have created the official mascot for WBC Cares and has been proudly named “Chicanito.”
Jill Diamond had communicated with my dad by email and a few calls. They finally agreed to meet in Los Angeles, as he was there for gallbladder surgery.
Jill arrived at the Westwood Marquis hotel, one of Don José’s favorite places, and called my dad, who was not in the best of health. She told him: “Please don’t worry, we can meet in the future. I see that you don’t feel very well.”
So, characteristically and resiliently, my dad replied: “No, Jill, don’t worry, we will go to the restaurant and we can talk there. I’m really hungry.” That’s how Don José was. Good food, great companionship and friendship were his passions, and during that momentous talk… WBC Cares was born.
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