Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
The official business of the 53rd NABF annual convention in Orlando, Florida got underway in the Caribbean Hall this morning. Board member and emcee Joanna Aguilar introduced former NABF champion Oscar Cantu, now an ordained minister, to lead the opening prayer.
After the playing of the Canadian, Mexican and American national anthems, Aguilar introduced members of the NABF board.
Florida State Athletic Commission chair Timothy Shipman welcomed the convention to Florida.
Association of Boxing Commissions chair Mike Mazzulli also addressed the congregation and expressed continued support from the ABC for the sanctioning bodies.
A ten count was held for those boxing brothers and sisters who passed in the last year.
Aguilar then introduced NABF president Duane Ford. Firstly, Ford reflected on two specific losses: NABF ring official chair Hubert Minn and all around boxing guy Herb Santos. He then thanked all the ring officials and board members of the NABF, expressing thanks for how they make a difference to the organization.
Ford then cited a book he was recently given, entitled, “Extreme Ownership.” The book was written by two Navy Seals- Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Ford applied the title to taking ownership of kindness and respect toward others. The book features the heroic, selfless actions of Navy Seals Marc Alan Lee and Michael Anthony Monsoor who lost their lives in battles, sacrificing their own lives for those of their platoon members.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman then took to the microphone and expressed his undying respect for the place that the NABF holds in his heart to this day. “My father took me to Texas and introduced me to the NABF. In 1994 I became the NABF vice president from Mexico and I still hold that position today.”
Sulaiman then switched gears to the theme of “Never Forget.” There will be a huge commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Jack Dempsey vs Luis Firpo at the site of the original Polo Grounds in New York City on September 23rd. Sulaiman cited this as an example of “Never Forget.” “Never forget from where we came. It’s not just about Canelo, Crawford, Tyson Fury and all the popular fighters and athletes of today, but also those who came before and paved the way for the stars of today.”
Sulaiman expressed the importance of quality officiating, how it affects a fighter’s future. A blown call by a referee or bad score by a judge can end a fighter’s career or even his or her life. “We have had a ‘low blow festival’ in recent weeks in boxing. They called it a controversy in the Usyk fight. The punch was on the trunks. There’s no controversy!”
Safety is also paramount for the WBC. They continue to fund research in several hospitals including UCLA, Cornell, two hospitals in Mexico and one in Panama. “Technology is the thing that will lead us to improvements in safety and officiating.”
Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood is a mental health specialist who has worked with many athletes across several sports. She gave a talk entitled, “Mental Health For Performance- How The State You’re In Affects Your Ability To Perform.”
Starting off with the concept of performance, Leslie-Toogood expained that all eyes aren’t only on the boxers in the ring, but also the ring officials who need to be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared. Performance = technical skills x human skills. Prepare, Perform, Recover, Evolve… this is the cycle for success according to Leslie-Toogood. There was a Q & A session in which Leslie-Toogood expounded on the possibility of sharing information and teaming with the WBC University, her thoughts on the “It’s o.k. to not be o.k.” wave that took hold with the mental breaks taken by athletes Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Ryan Garcia to name a few, to the importance of the cycle involving poor sleep/poor performance/poor sleep again, how to engage with a losing boxer/athlete after competition, to the mental state of self destructive athletes and much more.
After lunch, Duane Ford announced a change in the vice presidency, releasing long time VP Gaby Mancini of Canada and installing Michelle Ponich of Canada in the position.
US WBC Silver champion at super welterweight, “King” Callum Walsh, accepted the NABF “New Comer” award. From Cork, Ireland, Walsh thanked the NABF for the recognition and will be heading back into training for his next fight. His promoter, Tom Loeffler also thanked the NABF and WBC for their support of several of his fighters, including Vitali Klitschko, Gennadiy Golovkin and many others over the years.
New NABF Super Featherweight champ Jordan White was on hand to pick up his newly won belt, with his dad John White. White thanked the NABF and expressed his desire for bigger and better things, like the WBC belt.
As was the case last year, the congregation convened in a larger hall where all were broken up into five groups. Five moderators then rotated through each round table group with a different topic to discuss. Since many of the attendees were ring officials (judges, referees or supervisors) the topics were streamlined with those jobs in mind. Judge Tim Cheatham discussed how everyone on hand got into the sport of boxing. Judge Steve Morrow discussed social media and it’s impact- good or bad, on boxing and the use of it by ring officials. Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood discussed one of the tenets of her philosophy on performance which is “preparation,” but more with the boxer in mind. Referee Thomas Taylor discussed routines that ring officals go through in preparation for their assignments in order to ensure success on the night. Lastly, judge Chris Migliore discussed mental health with a simple question to all: “How are you doing?” When the session ended, a panel of Duane Ford, Dr. Leslie-Toogood and Mauricio Sulaiman fielded questions from the moderators as well the delegates.
A raffle was held with several winners of gift cards, the top prize being a $50 card. With that, the official business of the day is over and the evening is free for all conventioneers. Tomorrow will start at 9:00 sharp with guest speaker Timothy Bradley.