By Mauricio Sulaimán
Son of José Sulaimán & WBC President
This past Saturday, I experienced something unexpected that gave me the opportunity to assess how I have seen, experienced and lived boxing, from many different perspectives.
I was born into a home where boxing has been around for as long as I can remember. There were always people at home related to this sport. My first memory was one day when I was on the top floor of our house and heard an extraordinary hullabaloo in the living room. I ran downstairs to see what was happening and found my dad standing there with two gigantic men. None other than Don King and Muhammad Ali; the din was caused by King’s well-known guffaws.
The Sulaimans were always baseball players. The four brothers played in the Lindavista League, and I remember how at the end of each season, at the closing and award ceremony, my father always invited champions to present the trophies: José Mantequilla Nápoles, Rubén Púas Olivares, Raúl Ratón Macías, Miguel Canto, among others.
The four Sulaiman brothers have also trained boxing at home: the Olympic champion, Ricardo Delgado, was our trainer for a long time; also, Carlos Zárate, Lupe Pintor and José Luis Bueno. I dreamed of being a boxer, I use to play alone pretending I was ina boxing match and would hit myself and shed blood to make it more real; my little sister Claudia was my corner and gave me water, in the imaginary resting minute of rest. My dream ended abruptly, when my dad took me to the dressing room of my idol Mantequilla Nápoles, after a bloody fight against Armando Muñíz, in Acapulco, and I saw the great champion stretched out on a rubbing table, with both eyes shut close, and both eyebrows split open. There and then, I told Don José that I wanted to be a firefighter instead !
Later, it was usual to come home from school and find countless boxing personalities eating in the dining room; Roberto Durán, Alexis Argüello, Sugar Ray Leonard… Managers and trainers also came to introduce him to new talents; those who started and even came to live in our house, amateur boxers from the provinces, who had no chance and found a home in our home, so they could pursue their dreams.
I grew up and better understood life in boxing. Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles, but also in the small arenas in different places in the province of Mexico and other countries. Luxurious suites and transit hotels, large banquets or humble taco gatherings. That’s what boxing really is and really about…it`s essential essence. It is the sport where the only thing that matters is the passion, dedication and performance of those who seek to improve their lives and become idols; everyone starts at the bottom, and it requires so much sacrifice to one day get there.
I learned everything from being around my dad. His deep love and respect for the sport and, above all his admiration for boxers is unmatched by anyone else in boxing history. He protected them by implementing medical measures to make the sport safer, less savage and more dignified. He administratively changed so many things to end the abuse in many ways, educated them to offer them a better life after their years in the ring, and established a support fund for those who come to have urgent needs. The Jose Sulaiman Boxers Fund is administered at Nevada Community Foundation.
Since I was a child, and today, day after day, I have lived alongside everyone involved in this Great Sport: promoters, managers, coaches, lawyers, commissioners, doctors, judges, referees, ring announcers, sparring partners, television executives, sponsors and, above all, with the boxers and their families; I thought that the cycle had already been completed, but as I commented at the beginning, I was missing something. My youngest son, Mauricio, has found in boxing what I always extol.
The pandemic affected him in a significant way with the virtual classes, the confinement, and the lack of interaction with friends. It led him to mental health issues and depression. It was then that my nephew Chepi came into his life and began to teach him boxing. He took to the sport with respect plus enthusiasm and it became his passion. This Saturday I took him to the gym of my dear, former champion José Luis Bueno, in Neza, and there Morito got into the ring to have his first sparring session. Alan, who got into the ring to spar with my son, arrived with his grandmother and his mother. Both youngsters 16 years old, and the same height and weight. They warmed up and then jumped rope together until it was time to step into the ring.
I needed to experience that, to feel what a family member feels when the bell rings and his loved one is up there trading blows. Those were two wonderful rounds. Reinforced by all of the training sessions that they taught him from the first day, it finally culminated into reality up in the ring. My son gave his all, finished exhausted and with a bloody nose, but the first thing both young men did was to melt into a hug, which shows the sheer nobility of this sport; they immediately took off their headgear and hugged each other, nobody told them to do it, it came natural and humbling and I assure you, at that moment a fraternal bond and friendship was born.
Mexico started big this 2023. Yesica Nery Plata conquered the WBC light flyweight world championship, by defeating former champion Kim Clavel, in Canada, with a demonstration of class, resolve and courage, dominating the 10 rounds of the fight.
This coming Saturday WBC and unified light heavyweight champion, Arthur Betrbiev will make his WBO mandatory defense against Anthony Yarde in London.
On February 11, the current WBC world featherweight champion, Rey Vargas, will seek to become a world champion in three divisions, by going for the super featherweight championship against American O’Shaquie Foster. There is plenty of activity in the calendar and we are all waiting for announcements to come soon.
Did you know…?
The great Mexican idol, Rubén Púas Olivares, has a foundation in his name and spends his time giving away toys, visiting neighborhoods, together with his children, bringing joy, inspiration and hope to thousands of kids, without ever making it public. There is no better thing in life than gaining a child’s beaming smile and El Púas achieves it as a fundamental part of his life. GIVE A KID A TOY, YOU CAN DO IT ANYTIME…
One of the most important rules of boxing is having changed the weigh-in from being the same day to one day earlier. One of the great examples was El Púas Olivares. My dad told the story of him, when he was about to fight in Mexicali, one of the hottest cities in the world, and he was struggling hard to make bantamweight limit… “One night before the fight he was totally dehydrated, and he woke up during the night to wet his lips because of the raging thirst he felt and could not stop, until he drank a full jug of water. He woke up next morning, 5 pounds over the limit. they had to wrap him in plastic and three sets of pants, put him in a car with the heating on all day under the broiling sun. He did make weight and win the fight, but he didn’t remember a second of that day. It was a painfully searing blank!
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