Ciaran Gibbons Interview With WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. 

Interview for KOTV Boxing Weekly , Channel 4.

Ciaran Gibbons .Speaking to me now is the WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. 

Can you explain the purpose of your visit to Wales today?

Mauricio Sulaiman . It is a great honour for me to be here. 

It’s the beginning of the cross party (Political parties of Welsh Assembly) boxing programme, with all the parties coming together to analyse what boxing does in society and what we can do as an organisation. 

We have 165 countries affiliated to the World Boxing Council and it is the leading boxing organisation in the world and we have had great success with our social programmes all over the world. 

We have programmes where you give opportunity to the kids weather it’s competition or it’s only recreational it doesn’t matter, giving them the opportunity because kids have such easy access to drugs and vandalism and to go on the wrong path in life. 

Boxing provides great opportunity for them to grow, to become a somebody .Like to be a world champion or to be a personal champion .

It changes the lives of millions and we are just proud to be here and hopefully this can be something we can establish in Wales.

CG  . As President of the World Boxing Council what are you’re main duties on a day to day basis, running the WBC?

MS . Well it’s a complex, it’s not an easy job to explain . Boxing is global so you have to deal with people in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in Mexico and there’s no schedule,no timetable. There is no Saturday,no Sunday,no vacations but it’s a great sport. 

You have to deal with promoters, managers, trainers, television networks but most importantly with the fighters. 

The top priority of the WBC is to look for the safety of the boxers and continuous lower the risk in the sport.

CG . Can you give an example of one of the complex situations you have had to deal with over the years?

MS . One example, we have a very strong new anti doping protocol. We have out of competition drug testing which means if you are a champion or rated in the top 15 you can be tested at any moment, 365 days a year. 

So last year, just 20 hours before a fight in Moscow. The result from the lab came with a positive and the fight had to be cancelled. (Alexander Povetkin failed test ahead of fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder) It was a tremendous problem but there is no compromise against safety. Safety is a top priority and we believe in clean sports.

CG . How much of a problem do you think performance enhancing drugs is in world boxing?

MS . Well it’s a complex, it’s not an easy job to explain . Boxing is global so you have to deal with people in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in Mexico and there’s no schedule, no timetable. There is no Saturday, no Sunday, no vacations but it’s a great sport. 

You have to deal with promoters, managers, trainers, television networks but most importantly with the fighters. 

The top priority of the WBC is to look for the safety of the boxers and continuous lower the risk in the sport.

CG . Can you give an example of one of the complex situations you have had to deal with over the years?

MS . One example, we have a very strong new anti doping protocol. We have out of competition drug testing which means if you are a champion or rated in the top 15 you can be tested at any moment, 365 days a year. 

So last year, just 20 hours before a fight in Moscow. The result from the lab came with a positive and the fight had to be cancelled. (Alexander Povetkin failed test ahead of fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder) It was a tremendous problem but there is no compromise against safety. Safety is a top priority and we believe in clean sports.

CG . How much of a problem do you think performance enhancing drugs is in world boxing?

MS . I don’t think it’s a big problem however, it’s a potential problem and it’s a reality. Most boxers  are clean, they understand that drugs can hurt their opponent and there are some boxers that take illegal substances even without knowing it. There are so many supplements that are taken on the advice of a coach or a trainer even without knowing it contains illegal performance enhancing drugs. 

So it is a matter of education and continuous work towards achieving safe and clean sport.

CG . Do you feel that boxers, promoters and managers are supporting you in you’re fight against drugs. Or is there a resistance from people within boxing?

MS . Everyone is for it and everybody is for clean boxing and we have received tremendous support from promoters, from boxing commissions, especially the fighters themselves. But this is work that has to be done together. We have suspended some fighters but they are allowed to fight in some jurisdictions so that is a contradiction. 

Those jurisdictions do not care for a clean boxing, but that’s their problem not our problem. We do our job.

CG . Another issue that has been raised over the last few years is a professional boxer boxing in the Olympic Games. 

Where does the WBC stand on that controversial issue ?

MS . Absolute rejection. The WBC will never support professional elite boxers fighting in the Olympic Games unless it is a specific format of fighting. 

Amateur boxing and professional boxing are two different sports. I’ve spoken to many former Olympians who are now world champions, and have asked them, including David Haye what would happen if you right now, fought yourself when you were 19? 

The response is immediate. The solid more mature fighter would destroy the young kid and we will never allow that to happen with our blessing. 

We will not accept any WBC champion or top level fighter competing in the Olympics if he’s going to be fighting against kids.

CG . An issue that boxing fans raise on a regular basis is the number of world governing bodies .The WBC in some cases has multiple champions in each weight division it’s very confusing, even for people who follow boxing very closely. 

Is the WBC actively trying to reduce the number of world champions and do the WBC support unification fights to reduce the number of champions per division?

MS. Yes it’s a sensitive matter, and there is so much confusion with so many champions out there. Unfortunately nobody can control that. The WBC has been in existence 55 years and we have been consistent, but anybody can form an organisation and call it a world championship. 

We do support unification bouts, we do support a tournament between champions to have only one champion but that’s  not realistic in many ways.

CG . The WBC has international titles and also diamond belts. Do you think these belts add confusion? 

What do you see as their purpose in boxing?

MS .No those are special belts and are trophies and they bring tremendous attention to the fight, to the sport. It puts boxing in another place where without them we would not reach. 

The diamond belt is fashion. The emerald belt, the gold belt those are special trophies. They are not championships, they are just pieces of art given for special fights.

CG . Going on from that another issue that was quiet controversial at the time, the WBC was one of the first organisations to reduce the distance from 15 rounds to 12 rounds. Can you just explain the decision behind that? 

MS .  Yes the reduction from 15 to 12 rounds came after a long study of medical research. It was determined that fatigue after the 12th round combined with dehydration.

 After 36 minutes of combat the fatigue from that combat and the dehydration especially of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid around the brain) combined with a punch, it was simply very unsafe. 

The WBC reduced the distance to 12 rounds without hesitation. It was against television networks because they were selling those valuable minutes. It was against traditional supporters that want to see blood and drama in those last 3 rounds. 

But there is no compromise with safety. There have been many lives saved by this rule and also boxers dignity and the way of  life for many boxers has been saved as well.

 CG . Another thing that has been brought into boxing over the last 10 years or so , is having the weigh in 24 hours before a contest or sometimes almost 48 hours before a contest. 

This leads to boxers fighting in lower weight divisions which they probably would not have been able to make in the past. Sometimes on the actual day of the fight there is quite a large weight difference between the boxers in the ring. Is that something that concerns you? 

MS . On the contrary. The biggest enemy of the boxer is the weight. We have to understand that they take 2 or 3 months of extreme sacrifice to get down to a specific weight. That takes a big toll on the body. 

Fights in the past with the same day weigh in meant that a fighter would do the weight and in 6 hours he had to be in the ring without proper re hydration, without the proper relaxation of the mind and of the body. Now boxers doing the weigh in the day before, they can go and sleep, they can go and have at least 2 decent meals. 

The problem is those who gain too much weight irresponsibly. Those are the ones that need to be addressed, but there is absolutely no relation between the higher weight and the winner of the fight, all to the contrary. It is for protection, it is for safety when you loose weight you need 24 hours to replenish cerebrospinal fluid otherwise you will  be entering the ring with de hydration in your brain so it’s very medical, very safety orientated and it’s one of the greatest rules ever.

CG . From what you are saying with it seems the WBC is making great strives for boxers safety. Would you say that’s  you’re new number one job as the president of the world boxing council ?

MS . It continues to be, yes. The WBC’s top priority since my father was elected president has been safety, human equality and rejection to any sort of discrimination and abuse of power. So our top priority is safety. We are looking into the glove certification, into the ring design, before there used to be 3 ropes now there are 4 ropes. We are looking at many things that we can change and make it safer, to reduce the risk level. 

We have system which is called the mis-match prevention system. When you have a mis-match  in the ring it is so dangerous. 

So there are many things that we do outside the ring and with the help of all the boxing authorities from around the world that can make boxing much safer.

CG . One issue that raises itself time and time again is when you have controversial score cards. One recently happened in Britain in the Haskins Burnett IBF title fight. One score card was completely out of sync with the other two judges. Could you just explain the process that the WBC goes through if there is a score card that’s considered controversial or is out of line with the other score cards?

MS . Well scoring in a subjective sport will always be controversial. When you have a dive how do you score that?  How many point do you give it? In boxing it’s very complicated because you need to find uniformity in the 3 judges. You need to have the 3 judges, judging that specific fight, looking at the same thing and that can only be accomplished through training and certification. You have to make them accountable on their performance. You have to keep track how they are doing, so it has to be a process. The problem comes when there is not an agreement with a local jurisdictions. 

This last example, it was a mix up, which is not acceptable in a world title fight. 

CG .  Has the WBC got an official position on the Floyd Mayweather/ Connor McGregor fight?

MS . Well it’s difficult. It’s difficult to evaluate. On one side you have a major star in one sport which is mixed martial arts, which is completely different from boxing. It has similar components but it’s a different sport. So if they fight in a boxing ring with boxing rules it’s a very easy fight for Floyd Mayweather. 

But if they fight in a cage with UFC rules then it’s a very complicated fight for Floyd Mayweather. There is tremendous criticism but its a very popular fight that could take place. 

The UFC has constantly tried to undermine boxing and it’s a reality that anytime a boxer fights a UFC fighter in boxing there’s absolutely no question about who’s going to win, its 2 different sports. So it’s hard to evaluate.

CG .Just a few personal questions. From just you’re own point of view who’s you’re favourite boxer of all time? 

MS . My personal favourite boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard. When I was a kid, he was my hero. I just simply loved the way he fought. Of course my father always told me Muhammed Ali, and Muhammed Ali will be the greatest figure ever in the sport. But me as a kid when I grew up Sugar Ray Leonard was my hero.

CG . No doubt you have watched many boxing matches over the years. What’s your own personal favourite boxing match you’ve watched from ringside?

MS . Julio Cesar Chavez against Edwin Rosario. That was a fight that was highly inspiring for me. Rosalio was the favourite. He came in trying to intimidate Chavez,saying he was doing witchcraft. Chavez just put a red band on his head and Rosario froze and Chavez gave him the beating of his life. It was a tremendous great high level fight. Both were tremendous champions at the time.

CG .  Were you there when Chavez fought Greg Haugen in Mexico City? 

 MS. I was there and it was the greatest event ever in boxing. 136,000 people paid to be there. Completely full, Aztec Stadium. Great atmosphere, very special night.

CG . Is that one of the best atmospheres you have witnessed at a boxing match?

MS .Unique. It was unique but the best atmosphere was maybe when I saw Triple G against Brook at the O2 Arena. Unbelievable! I have only been to one fight in the UK and that was it. The atmosphere I cannot compare to anything I have ever seen in my life.

CG . The WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, has been champion for almost 3 years. He hasn’t really fought any elite fighters. 

Is the WBC pushing Wilder to be in better matched contests as he is a world champion?

MS . It is not Wilder’s fault. Wilder was going to box his mandatory, Alexander Povetkin but he came up with a positive in anti-doping test. Then he fought and he broke his arm so it’s not his fault. Then he was going to fight another opponent and another positive came so it is not his fault. He is a great champion. He is a WBC heavyweight champion, very loyal, very active. He wants to be in the ring and he will be getting in the ring soon and people will get what they want to see.

CG . Will the WBC be supporting and facilitating a potential unification fight with Anthony Joshua? 

MS. 100%. Joshua is a great champion. He was the WBC international champion. The WBC was the first organisation to rate him. In the rankings in the top 15, in the top 5 he became champion of another organisation (IBF) when he was number 2 in the WBC. So we have great respect for him and we would love to see a bout between the WBC champion Wilder and Joshua. That would be the best fight out there.

CG .  Over the next 12/18 months, 2 years or so what are your plans for the world boxing council and for boxing in general? 

MS . We, our plan is to continue with our drug testing, continue with administration of the divisions, supporting unification bouts, unification tournaments. We need to get boxing back. It’s the best time ever in the UK for boxing. The USA is struggling to find a new hero but there are many great champions all over the world and boxing is a great sport. Female boxing is getting attention. Amateur boxing needs to gain strength again and many great things are happening.

 

Share the knowledge!...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook10Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someonePrint this page

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*