The End of a Boxer’s Career

By Mauricio Sulaimán
President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán

One of the greatest concerns my father, José Sulaimán, always had was seeing and lamenting how the vast majority of boxers end their lives in precarious, reduced circumstances and even in misery after having been idols due to their extraordinary performances in the ring.

This phenomenon is by no means exclusive to boxers, as the vast majority of athletes and entertainment personalities have that shadow which silently lurks and stalks them without them realizing it, stealthily creeping up throughout their career and as it winds down.

It is a given fact that many of those who reach the pinnacle of stardom come from humble backgrounds, and that they find in their discipline the opportunity to excel and become someone in life. In boxing, it is an absolute reality. It’s a given that most, if not all boxers come from the tough neighborhoods of their city in every country throughout the world.

After a lot of work, sacrifice, determination, and many blows, success finally comes to the finest and most talented few. The champion is crowned. With victory comes fame, money, and adulation. For a while, the lifestyle of the champion remains simple, modest, and focused, but suddenly, that spectacular fight arrives, which propels and transforms the champion into an idol. He is now a superstar, a celebrity who is recognized on the street, in restaurants and at airports. So, thus the temptations begin to arrive and sidle in.

They enter a bubble that becomes impenetrable to most of those who were close and instrumental to the champion’s beginnings, development rise, and ascent to the heights of glory.

That bubble is exclusive and reserved for beautiful women, new fair-weather friends who are adept at accessing an insidious circle of ephemeral friendship. Avaricious, opportunistic and venal people who know only too well how to throw a lavish party, launch a yacht outing, jaunts to exotic places, access glittering jewelry, slip on clothes, slip into exotic cars, and lay their hands on all manner of luxury items which the champion always saw as ethereal and unattainable. Alcohol and drugs also rear their ugly heads. Here today and gone tomorrow pleasures never before imagined, and life is surging completely out of control. Opportunities to invest, with enticing proposals that are almost always misleading, false, and fraudulent.

People who actually love and care about the champion are shunned, shut out, blocked, expelled, and discarded. They are now persona non grata who can’t get close to the top table, let alone the bubble littered with its baubles.

Time passes, successes in the ring end, skills diminish, new hungry fresh talents arrive, young and strong, until one day … it’s all over. The former champion wakes up, the bubble has burst, and everyone who was in it has disappeared, taking everything with them. All spent and long gone.

There is no more money but there are mounting debts. The public turns away and applauds someone else, so thereafter, begins a life full of depression, loneliness, and the only things that linger are fading memories of those great days of glory in the ring.

I am hopeful that this scalding phenomenon is losing steam. I see fighters who are more aware, better prepared, more savvy, and surrounded by good people. This must also be planned, viable and achievable via the path of education, before it is too late.

Today there is a high speed, fast track vehicle. Just as it can transport you to the top, it can also destroy you: It is SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter (X), Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and many others. What is published there stays for eternity, as there is no turning back. The comments and responses have no filter and just as they can praise you, they can also target, attack, and besmirch you without mercy, often cloaked in anonymity, and in a cowardly back-stabbing way. The comments become highly offensive, biased, obnoxious, wounding and savage. There is harassment and a systematic, unrelenting bullying attack.

If a boxer does not know how to interact on networks, he or she should stay well away from them. The attacks are growing. Those targeted do everything to combat them and to prove things that do not need verification or justification, because they are false and campaigns are only carried out to pierce and harm mental health.

Unfortunately, we live in a world in which value is measured by the number of followers and likes one has on social networks.

Ryan García became popular by having millions of followers on social media. He became an immediate product of great interest to promoters and TV.

It is also social media that has led him to a critical point and plight.

It is known that Ryan has struggled with mental health issues for many years. These problems have even led him to leave boxing on a couple of occasions. Today he is spiraling in free-fall, and he needs to accept the help that people who love him can offer.

Julio César Chávez, the great Mexican champion, seeks to support him because he himself lived through, suffered, and endured hell for many years, and he overcame this. It proves that a person can be cured. We all suffer from mental health problems. It is a silent, stealthy disease that has many variants: anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem, paranoia, and many other modalities, ranging from very simple and manageable to levels bordering on suicide.

It is difficult to take the first step, but in so doing, everything changes and there is a solution. Talk, get your fears and worries out in the open. It could be with a trusted friend or with specialized therapists, taking medication, in short, seek help to heal.

We can all help once we realize what a sufferer is going through concerning mental health problems, from a smile, a friendly chat and a hug, to taking action and helping to find solutions.

DID YOU KNOW…?

The boxer lives a very complicated life, and adding to the stigma and dogma that men must be strong, macho, silent and endure everything. They do not cry or show the slightest weakness or human frailty. Added to this phenomenon is the sheer physical work that it all entails. Thousands of rounds of sparring, countless days separated from their families, enduring spartan conditions to be prepared to climb into the ring, putting physical integrity at risk.

The WBC is working on mental health issues to achieve a mandatory system of care and monitoring.

TODAY’S ANECDOTE

Julio César Chávez met my father when he was very young. Ramón Félix took him, and Julio was wearing a shirt with holes, humble and shy, but with that charismatic dazzling smile that only he has. The greatest Mexican champion earned millions of dollars, his popularity was immense, and he had the world in his hands and at his feet.

Unfortunately, he was gripped by the throttling demons of alcohol and cocaine, with many years of suffering and several unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate himself until, with the help of God and many people who love him, he managed to do so. Julio visited my dad at the UCLA hospital on several occasions. The last time was 17 days before he died. That December 29, 2013, my father told the champion: “My dear Julio, how happy I am to see you well. Thank God you are recovered and I know that you will never fall again, my dear and beloved champion. Now I am ready to go and rest in peace.”

I appreciate your comments at [email protected].

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  • Any career path anyone takes in life, risks, failures, benefits, and rewards are par for the course. It is paramount to have some sense and plan ahead in investments and trust the right people around you. Poor decisions can lead to havoc and distress. Yes, it’s a no brainer that some folks in life can’t handle success only to crash and burn later thru bad choices.

    In the meantime, stay cool inside. Hot temps are pounding the USA as a whole. Still waiting on Mauricio Sulaimán to write an article on the corruption and favoritisms of the WBC and what needs to be done to fix the issue(s). Bet we never see that article.

  • What exactly does the WBC do to help former fighters in retirement? These are fighters from which the WBC gathered sanctioning fees for years.

    • The WBC does several things to assist the fighter medically. They have life-insurance programs to help the boxers on all cards for which they have a sanctioned fight. They also have a hugely successful worldwide network. WBC cares. Here is the websitie:

      https://wbcboxing.com/en/wbc-cares/

      While one can be critical of their overt favoritism to Mexican fighters and association to Don King over the years, the WBC seems to be more open and innovative to trying certain things that the other organizations don’t offer. Supporting instant replay, optional 4th and 8th round open-scoring, (mandates local commission approval) noise-reduction headphones for judges. first to reduce World Championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds for safety and medical reasons associated with combat fatigue to the fighter. Still controversial systems, but at least they are willing to try new things. I am not saying I agree with all these things, I don’t agree with all of them, but the WBC is at least more open to attempt change than the other organizations.

      • “The WBC does several things to assist the fighter…”
        – The WBC lists themselves as a non-profit organization.
        – What do you think happens to all those sanctioning fees they collect?
        – Are the fees being tracked and can they be accounted for?
        – We are talking about fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a big fight, many times per year.
        – If they were truly non-profit, after paying their personnel and other expenses, the leftover money would be set aside for the boxers they claim to represent and care for.
        – What a crock of sh%t……

        • The NFL is also a tax exempt, non-profit. Talk about a scam. Also, when the NFL does a military tribute, the military pays them for the tribute. So it is not just the WBC that’s a scam.

    • From what I understand, the WBC gave Wilfred Benitez a 200 dollars per month pension after he retired.
      So, to answer your question, they slap fighters right in the face after they’re no longer fighting.

  • DId not know about Chavez’s use of alchohol and cocaine. Helps me understand his behavior a little bit better. But often reading this man’s writings is more for comedy. Does he really take himself seriously.

    • Many great fighters were hardcore drug users. Many olympic medalists get diagnosed with ADD in order to get a free pass to use PEDs.

      • “Many great fighters were hardcore drug users. Many olympic medalists get diagnosed with ADD in order to get a free pass to use PEDs.”
        – Please provide a few examples.

      • – How do you get a free pass to use PED’s if you have ADD?
        – One thing has nothing to do with the other……………

          • “The so called meds for ADD are PEDs. As if you never heard of it?”
            – You haven’t got a clue.

  • – In more important news, continued hot and humid in Southern Zoo Jersey.
    – Dewpoint is in the mid-70’s (tropical humidity).
    – Even too hot to sit at the community swimming pool.

  • Wilfred Benitez comes to mind. He’s living in Chicago these days. His sister is his caregiver.
    He’s barely holding on. We need to keep him in
    our prayers. It’s heartbreaking. There’s a Chicago
    Magazine article online with recent pictures.

    • Why don’t Mauricio Sulaimán and the WBC do something for Benitez? Good luck with this suggestion!

    • Benitez’s condition really puzzles me. He was so good defensively, and if I’m not mistaken, the only beating he ever took was at the hands of Mathew Hilton.

  • Mr. S, your “enabling support ” of the charlos and ryan garcia ended up “hurting” them more than helping them . You are a part of that “group ” that you write about, which affects the fighters negatively .

  • You sir. Have failed David Benavidez. Giving in to Canelo Alvarez and making a disgrace to great Mexican boxing. You should respect the sport. Sin verguenza. Vendido.

    • If you read the WBCs code of ethics for the fighters you will get a clear understanding as to why David hasn’t got the fight. Benevides is gonna have to do more than weight bully an opponent once a year to get the fight and it would also help if David enforced his mandatory like John Ryder did which puts canelo in a situation where he would have to pay benevides for not fighting him

  • All that for a psychopathic attack on Ryan Garcia. It’s really not about Ryan Garcia though. It’s about narcissistic megalomaniacal manipulating and control of the everyone else. Conform or be attacked like Ryan Garcia.

    • You’re exactly what is wrong with Ryan. You make excuses for his poor behavior which enables him to continue. He has proven to be dishonorable leaving his wife after she gave birth, he’s disrespect to folks wife and children, racist, a cheater who doesn’t make weight (partially Haney’s fault. Never fight someone who doesn’t make weight), and has PEDS in his system, and disrespectful of other cultures and religions. He’s a religious gaslighter who mentions Jesus when his horrible (repeated) behavior is mentioned. He remains unchanged and unhumbled. He’s not a victim he needs to be held accountable. His act is getting old.

  • Articles like this reek of insincerity. Errol Spence was the only top fighter to question where the sanctioning free go and he received a gaslight answer. Talk is cheap. Why aren’t these sanctioning fees uses as a TSP/ 401K or 403(b) retirement plan for fighters KNOWING most will go broke. These young fighters often don’t have the mindset to reach out to fighters who did well financially after retirement like Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes, Mayweather, and Oscar De La Hoya to learn the game. This is where WBC, IBF, WBO, and WBA are suppose to step in.

    • – Agree w/you regarding the opinion that Mr. Sillyman’s articles reek of insincerity.
      – This is why we discuss other topics such as the weather on a Sillyman post.
      – Take care.
      – Gary G.

    • I understand the frustration with the boxing organizations but for them to do what you suggest would require even larger sanctioning fees. It’s really up to the fighters and their management to cover their own finances. If you want benefits for all fighters, then you are talking about a fighter’s union like Gerry Cooney tried to start several years back.

  • Mauricio Sulaiman is a person people need not have any regard for. DISregard him. Walk away from him in mid sentence. Cut his mic. Sulaiman is useless. He lives off the work of others.

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