By Mauricio Sulaimán
Son of José Sulaimán & WBC President
After a couple of days of great activity in Bahrain and a brief stop in Kuwait, I arrived in Doha, Qatar, a country now known to all after the very successful World Cup held a few months ago. It is surprising from the arrival at the airport how majestic this nation is.
The journey to the hotel, with the lighting on the streets in the form of palm trees in addition to the lighting of the buildings, is an unforgettable illumination. The hospitality and kindness of the people are even more so when they learn you are Mexican. Our country left a memorable vestige in this country, and everyone has anecdotes.
When the Tricolor of the World Cup waved, everything changed. The streets and places were enthused and now the memory of the passage of our culture in this Middle Eastern country is lived with nostalgia.
I was received by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani from the Royal Family. He is the first professional boxer in the history of Qatar. He is currently the president of the country’s Boxing Federation. He was in charge of an agenda full of activities that made this visit more than successful.
I visited the 3-2-1 Sports Museum. Built as part of the soccer stadium in Doha, it is an interactive space which is a global icon. It is designed in rooms by different categories where the history of the sport of humanity is told, by regions, by calendar and by disciplines, culminating in the start of the modern Olympic Games, with an impressive tour of each of the editions of the event. The most important jewel in sport that takes place every four years.
It also has a large number of original items that are on display in glass cabinets to preserve and conserve perfect condition. It is a beautiful place that must be visited. The WBC will be a part of this museum, being remembered by having our history and the Green and Gold Belt on display.
The next meeting was with the director of the Aspire High Performance Center, sports facilities of the highest level to prepare athletes who enjoy lodging, food, academic studies and sports training in various disciplines. It is an impressive complex with state-of-the-art technology and instructors from all over the world seeking medalists and champions for the future.
An agreement was reached to grow and develop the boxing program and, even, to be the official WBC center for boxing camps.
I visited the Olympic Committee, where I had a series of meetings. I also met Sheikh Ali, who will act as liaison with the WBC to follow up on the action plan designed with different medium and long-term objectives.
I attended the facilities where all the media are concentrated. It’s impressive, it’s a city on its own. We took a tour of the Bein and Bein Sports studios. I have never seen anything quite like it, studios with wonderful scenery, hybrid technology, screens and cameras for program production every day. There, I participated in some interviews and finally I had a meeting with the programming director, who is very interested in returning boxing to his screens.
We had a meeting with Massimiliano Montari, who is the director of Save the Dream in Doha.
The part I enjoyed the most was the tour of the boxing gyms, from small clubs to one that pungently smells like a boxing gym. Fahad has inspired hundreds of young people to take the route of this great sport and under his leadership, it is growing in a big way, not only in Qatar but in the entire Gulf Region.
My final stop was Milan, where I met Salvatore Cherchi and his group from the promoter OPI Since 1982. I was able to greet great friends, such as his sons Christian and Allesandro; Silvio, Mario Sturla, and former WBC cruiserweight world champion Giacobbe Fragomeni. I visited the family of Daniele Scardina, who is in intensive care for an induced coma. I greeted his mother and his brothers, who are accompanied by dozens of friends waiting for the recovery of this ring warrior.
I have returned to Mexico after a long and tiring but so successful trip, and I am ready to go to Guadalajara to be at the press conference about the official announcement of the fight of the Mexican idol, Saúl Canelo Álvarez, who returns to fight on May 6, after 12 years away from his homeland.
The highly anticipated fight between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia, to be held on April 22 in Las Vegas, has already been announced, and the fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, who will contest all four heavyweight belts, is expected at any moment.
Did you know…?
Mexico is a boxing nation, and in history there have been great fights in our country. Julio Cesar Chávez filled the Azteca, the Monterrey stadium and the Puebla stadium. Cancun hosted Mexico`s only heavyweight fight, when Samuel Peter knocked out Oleg Maskaev in the bullring, and now it’s time for El Canelo, who will surely pack the Akron Stadium.
We Sulaimáns have Arab blood, since Don Elías was born in Lebanon, and Doña Wasila in Syria. The countrymen used to arrange marriages. My grandmother died at the age of 41, and my father found the love of his life in a woman from Tamaulipas. At first it was difficult for my mother, because she was not a countrywoman, but my grandfather, Don Elías, received her and looked after her all her life, even teaching her to cook Arabic food. I always had the dream of marrying a countrywoman, and destiny led me to meet my wife, Christiane. When we got married, I had a trip to Ciudad Valles, and there I told my grandfather about my girlfriend, and I showed him a photo. He immediately stood up and told me: “Majitos (my son) get married, but now”” I replied that it couldn’t be like that, that we needed time, and so on. “Trust me, the dove flies, put it in the cage because if not, the dove flies.” We have alighted, and there’s no place like home.
I welcome your feedback at [email protected].