Gilberto Mendoza, President Emeritus of the World Boxing Association, would have turned 78 years old today.
Perseverance and discipline. The first, according to the dictionary definition, is the “firmness and tenacity of spirit in resolutions and purposes”. The second, “doctrine, instruction of a person, especially in moral matters”.
These two simple words were the guide and the invariable code of conduct for the President Emeritus of the World Boxing Association, Francisco Gilberto Mendoza (Barquisimeto, March 30, 1943-Caracas, March 11, 2016), who was known as Gilberto Mendoza in the world of boxing and the sport in general, and whose birth was 78 years ago.
Gilberto, as everyone called him without protocols, which he did not like, led the destinies of the dean organization of universal boxing for a little more than 33 years, from October 1982 until his heartfelt physical demise. During that long journey, he left a legacy that will remain as long as the sport of boxing is practiced by thousands of young people around the world.
In addition to cultivating the two aforementioned virtues of perseverance and discipline, Mendoza always excelled for his generosity towards other people, for his strong loyalty in friendship, for his permanent support to youth, for his unique and uncommon modesty in which arrogance had no place and, finally, for his solid and unbending will to work and his iron character.
It would be a difficult task to list Gilberto’s contributions to the sport he was passionate about as well as to all the other activities related to any human being. It would be enough to say that just mentioning him makes you think of boxing (just as thinking of boxing means Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Durán…).
The first y most relevant work he did for the organization was the Ratings Manual, which is still in force today, prepared while he was on the Executive Committee as one of the immediate collaborators of Rodrigo Sánchez (RIP), his mentor and who saw in him the best candidate to succeed him, in anticipation of his imminent death. He also created Guidelines for supervisors, members of the Executive Committee, and the International officials guidelines, predecessor of the current one.
It is worth adding his initiatives in the launching of the successful KO Drugs campaign, a campaign of universal extension; the organization of seminars for officials (judges and referees) in every convention aimed at improving their performance in world championship fights; the holding of conventions every two years instead of one, as it was done at the beginning; the creation of regional affiliated organizations such as the Latin American Boxing Federation (FEDELATIN), North American Boxing Association (NABA), WBA Europe, Pan African Association (PAFBA), Pan Asian Boxing Association (PABA) -later known as WBA Asian Boxing Association (WBA Asia), WBA Oceania, Federación Caribeña de Boxeo (FEDECARIBE), Federación Centroamericana de Boxeo (FEDECENTRO) and Federación Bolivariana de Boxeo (FEDEBOL). Created the Super Belts for those champions with 5 and 10 successful title defenses. The reduction of rounds from 15 to 12. And many other ideas that benefited the progress of boxing worldwide.
As a businessman, since his graduation from the university until the end of his life, he worked as a senior manager and then as Administrative Advisor of the Central Azucarero El Palmar, in San Mateo, Aragua. Always concerned about the communities of his immediate surroundings, he was the founder of the Yaritagua Fire Department; president of the Scout Association of Venezuela (1979), to which he never stopped supporting; deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Aragua State (1995-98); director of the National Economy Council (1998-99); director of Fedecámaras (1995-2001) and honorary president of the Boxing Information Center, among many other activities.
Perseverance and discipline. These two words are enough to remember Gilberto Mendoza, an honorable man of boxing. A name that means boxing, whom we remember today with honor and respect and will never forget. And whose favorite slogan, of his authorship and which is still in force and inspires his friends and successors in the WBA, was:
“We can do it! We are going to do it! Let’s do it together!”