Outside the Ring: Mauricio Sulaiman

By Jill Diamond on October 7, 2014
Outside the Ring: Mauricio Sulaiman
"Great champions and heroes ending up penniless and in misery always broke his heart."

As Jose Sulaiman’s youngest son, and the one most fervent about boxing, Mauricio embraced his role as his father’s student…

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

Mauricio Sulaiman grew up in the shadow of a powerful man. Along with the privileges of being the son of a celebrity, come the responsibilities; some say even a half full cup is a heavy weight for a child. As Jose Sulaiman’s youngest son, and the one most fervent about boxing, Mauricio embraced his role as his father’s student and protector. In the last years, Mauricio worked tirelessly, and their positions blended, and eventually changed. When Jose Sulaiman died, the WBC unanimously voted to pass the office of Presidency to Mauricio. It seemed natural. It felt earned. He accepted. So, during a time of great sorrow, a personal tragedy became the basis of public scrutiny. Mauricio knew he would not only inherit his father’s demesne, but his legacy; and all the positive and negative opinions that came with it. He is unfazed. He wears Jose’s reputation like a well-tailored suit, and he drinks from that childhood cup with pleasure, passion and pride. Mauricio himself is humble and approachable; he believes in his sport and the athletes who fight for the Green. He is well aware of his influence, his heritage and the criticism he must endure in order to make a vulnerable sport strong again. He stands on his own, adhering to tradition, but trying to modernize and streamline the form. He wants an arena filled with educated fans who share his belief in the integrity of boxing.  To accomplish this, Mauricio invited the top sanctioning bodies to join together, in hopes of standardizing the rules, and of creating a single World Champion. Two accepted, and the process is ongoing. He also fulfilled his father’s dream of having the First Woman’s Boxing Convention, bringing together athletes and experts from around the world. What Mauricio hasn’t changed is the desire to use his global platform to benefit others. As a relatively young man, a family man, he expresses a strong responsibility to the community and the future. He has big shoes to fill but, truthfully, walks his own walk. I first met Mauricio Sulaiman in 2005 when he invited me to the WBC Convention at a time when they were sanctioning woman’s boxing. I witnessed his transformation from participant to leader. He is diligent, and rich with ideas. Fearless when facing reporters and critiques, like his best champions, he will accept any challenge. So far, he doesn’t disappoint. Decide for yourself, just as I did, almost 10 years ago. At the final tribute to Jose Sulaiman, given by UCLA’s Neurological Department in honor of his contributions, Mauricio said “I can finally move forward. I am my own man.” I believe this to be true.

Tell me about your relationship to your father?

My father, Jose Sulaiman, was my hero. Ever since I can remember, I tried to be close to him. I decided to follow in his footsteps, graduating from Business Administration and running the family manufacturing company. And of course, I got very close to him in boxing to try to help him, and ease his tremendous load of work.

What do you believe his legacy is?

He will always be remembered as a gentle, caring person. He dedicated his life to serve others; it gave him tremendous satisfaction. He never shared stories about whom or how he was helping. During the funeral services, and ever since he passed, my family has learned of hundreds of specific acts of generosity by those he, in one way or another, served and supported.

Words to describe him?

Hardworking, relentless, unstoppable, “never is not an option, some things take longer to accomplish.” He came to this world to make a difference and he did.

Wave a magic wand and change something about boxing.

One champion per division recognized as the WORLD CHAMPION. Then all organization can have their own champions, but not called WORLD CHAMPIONS.

You grew up in the sport. How has it changed?

Today many promotions are already making money without selling one ticket while other promoters lose too much money if they don’t sell tickets. Fighters are inclined to becoming “TV network fighters” and are happy fighting twice a year. Great fights are not being made because promoters, TV networks, sponsors and others are fighting each other; egos get in the way. There are too many mismatches, especially at the lower levels, as managers and promoters make convenient matches for their fighters. Fighters are not finishing the natural cycle and are brought up too soon, so they are burnt out and gone.

What issues today threaten a boxer’s career?

Fighters need to receive training; they need lectures about the many things that can change in their lives once fame and glory come; and of course the money management. Drugs and alcohol, bad nutrition, and substance abuse are problems, as is weight reduction before fights. But dehydration is the worst enemy to fighter’s health; we need to continue looking for ways to make safe rules and procedures. PEDs are a threat to boxing, it is a reality and we need to take a stance. Old and worn out gloves, especially in non-championship fights, are a problem. We have started a global campaign to make sure all boxers receive gloves that have not been used more than 30 rounds.

Have you ever denied a title fight?

Yes, however we try to always find the last resources to save a promotion, to help others learn how to work properly. My father always worked in good faith and expected good faith in return.

How important is the Rules Meeting prior to a fight?

This is so important, yet it is often ignored by most parties and a true rules meeting session does not occur. Every jurisdiction has different rules, organizations have different rules and many times trainers and fighters don’t know the rules. I believe the rules meeting ceremony should take place two or three days before the fight, have both fighters and their camps present, have the referee and judges present, and have one formal event to have everybody familiar with the rules and each other so they can act with uniformity.

Do you think boxing should be regulated?

Boxing is regulated; however there is too much confusion. Many boxing commissioners are political appointees and enter the boxing commission with little or no experience and knowledge about boxing. After they are up and running another appointment replaces then and everything starts from zero again.

Please tell us about the WBC Benevolent Fund.

My father lived his life in boxing. He was involved in the sport 70 years, starting as an amateur boxer and his friends were boxers. He lived all the drama that fighters have to endure throughout their careers. His passion for the sport and the many cases of great champions and heroes ending up penniless and in misery always broke his heart. It was his dream to have a formal way to help boxers in need. The WBC spent millions of dollars in aid during the 40 years my father was involved in the WBC.

Luxury Swiss Watches, Hublot and its president, Jean-Claude Biver stepped into the ring and participated in a historic auction event, raising 1 Million USD. The money was deposited directly at the Nevada Community Foundation and that is where it is being administered. This seed money is helping many fighters around the world and the WBC continues to find ways to raise money to keep the fund alive and growing.

Telmex Foundation, created by Mr. Carlos Slim, has agreed to pay $150 000 a year for five years by having referees wear the foundation logo in their uniform, as an awareness of the fund. Many promoters, commissions and federations are participating in this and other activities to raise funds

Why are you using your position with the WBC to help others?

Every single dollar, peso, euro, yen, etc. that enters the WBC goes back to boxing in one form or another. The WBC was founded by the President of Mexico in 1963 and its priority has always been the welfare of the boxers and the boxing community. The WBC is always actively researching, funding, participating in all types of events and making the changes needed to make boxing better and safer.

What are the most significant accomplishments you feel the WBC has inspired?

I am most proud of the influence we’ve had in protecting the safety of our all boxers. Some are the reduction of 15 rounds to 12; day before the fight weigh-ins; mandatory medicals; mandatory anti-doping tests; UCLA brain injury research; the addition of a fourth ring rope; the attached thumb on boxing gloves; and most recently, the Glove Campaign.

Can you share a story? Who inspired you?

Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez was the first boxer, along with Erik Morales, to participate in a WBC Cares event. They visited the children’s hospital in LA.  He was so moved by the cancer victims that days after the WBC visit, he returned with Nintendo games for all the kids. Eventually Genaro became ill with cancer. One day, he received an email from the father of a teenage patient Genaro had visited. He said his son, who had been encouraged by Genaro’s friendship, was fully recovered, and it was his turn to motivate Genaro to get better and defeat such terrible a disease. Sadly, Genaro passed away, but he still continues to be an inspiration to many.

Are there others who have been a source of inspiration?

My heroes are Jose Sulaiman, Nelson Mandela, Carlos Slim, Ronald Reagan, Johnny Bench, Miguel Marin and Roger Staubach. 

What are your goals for the future?

To be known as the son of Jose Sulaiman and to be seen as a decent, honorable person. To make my kids feel proud of me, and to grow old with my wife Christiane.

Do you feel that along with your position, that you have a responsibility to boxers?

Yes. They are all the same. They are great human beings. They all have their own story, and they all have suffered and sacrificed way too much. I learned to respect them since I was two or three years old. My dad treated them as sons and daughters. I will always and forever look out for the well-being of the boxers

What are the qualities most important to you?

Loyalty, reliability, values and principles, and most of all honor.

How would you like to be remembered?

As the son of Jose Sulaiman

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Outside the Ring: Mauricio Sulaiman

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  1. Matt McGrain 09:12am, 10/10/2014

    Here’s the chance I was willing to give him; a decade of good faith in his oversight of the WBC’s rankings and their showing a general absence of favouritism in that time.  Only the best fighters being made the #1 contender to their “title”.  A total absence of silly made-up belts that further muddy the picture, that mutilate the sport with uncertainty.
    Then, one of the first things WBC did after his taking the reigns was install Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr. in the #1 contender spot at 168lbs WITHOUT HIS EVER HAVING FOUGHT ONE CONTEST THERE.  He was installed as the #1 contender in that division having been given a gift decision verses Brian Vera in a fight fought at 175lbs.
    AT BEST, this is nepotism.  I say “at best” because of course I can’t prove money changed hands.  And it might not have!  After all, WBC showed astonishing - astonishing - favouritism to Junior’s father, which you can read about here:
    You’re asking me, Jill, to “give a chance” to a man who stripped Andre Ward of his title without just cause, handed it to Bika, and then made a fighter who had never fought at 168lbs the #1 contender to that title.
    Sorry Jill, but that is a ridiculous request.  I’d sooner “give a chance” to a rattlesnake.  At least the snake is honest about what he is.

  2. jill diamond 08:57am, 10/10/2014

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions. In fact, I would encourage good, educated dialogue and am delighted you are passionate about the sport. I just want to add, for the sake of Boxing.com, which has been kind enough to entrust me with this platform, I do not make a penny from the WBC. I work ‘with’ many sanctioning bodies, promoters and boxers through the non profit, and have chosen the WBC because in truth, they are the most generous and responsive when it comes to helping others. As for Mr Sulaiman’s reference to Mandela, the WBC boycotted SA until apartheid was lifted and in return, President Mandela opened the WBC convention and wore the Green Belt proudly. I am not naive, I see life in greys, and have always worked within the system to make and acknowledge change. Give the man a chance. The rest is talk.  Please continue….

  3. Magoon 08:34am, 10/09/2014

    I noted that too Mr. Casey. More evidence of his cynicism. But he missed out by not including MLK and maybe Gandhi. Guevara? That might have been pushing it.

  4. Mike Casey 08:11am, 10/09/2014

    Always a smart PR move to name-check Mandela as one of your heroes.

  5. nicolas 01:17pm, 10/08/2014

    I had tried to respond earlier to Jill Diamond, but when I went to submit by response, I had trouble with the internet. I found this strange, but a friend of mine (Mexican American by the way) assured me that this was just pure coincidence. I have been accused by some off being a left wing wacko, and by other of being a right wing facist, but never a sexist. Perhaps Mrs or Miss Diamond did point out this in a previous article, but certainly not here, that she does a lot of work for the WBC, and in 2012 defended Jose Sulaiman against charges that he did not take seriously the Mayweather abuse charges, or was he even found guilty then. She has even done supervisor work for the WBC at certain fights form what I have read. Also I found her comment about using my entire name so she could e-mail me very bizarre. She certainly should have expected this response from many of the readers here.

  6. Jim Crue 10:10am, 10/08/2014

    the corruption in the stick and ball sports goes unreported, until recently, because there is so much money involved for ALL involved and there are bureaucratic governing bodies that don’t want to be exposed. As Jimmy Cannon said, “boxing is the red light district of sports”. It always has been and the corrupt, yes corrupt, organizations like the WBC exploit the fighters. The list of misdeeds by the WBC would fill an encyclopedia. The older Suliaman had a silver tongue and so does his offspring. Like a good politician he does not really answer the questions. This guy is rich off the fighters blood and sweat. The so called championships are fraudulent, the ratings are a fraud. Even ass kissing HBO now says the same thing..and ask Mr Teddy Atlas about these organizations. There misdeeds are WELL documented and undeniable

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:09am, 10/08/2014

    Jill Diamond-Just took a good gander at your photo….I’m on your side…the heck with these guys.

  8. jill diamond 06:44am, 10/08/2014

    Your comments are very appreciated.  I will go back to Mr Sulaiman and address some of these issues and post. As for the ‘vanilla’ flavor, I disagree. I am not in control, nor do I edit the answers. I think the questions, as a first view, are realistic.  I also believe in innocence until proven guilty, and shy away from words like corruption when perhaps, bias or disagreeable may be more adequate. People are comfortable with applying these words to boxing officials and promoters, when they would not do that with other sports. I think no sport undergoes more scrutiny; and that’s a good thing, given the stakes. I also believe that the community is the most diverse and unprejudiced group of people I’ve met and that continues to amaze me.  Thank you for all the feedback. It’s important to be able to have an honest forum. It’s what keeps life honest. 

  9. Magoon 03:29am, 10/08/2014

    I agree with Mr. McGrain and the others here who have pointed out that Mr. Sulaiman was an ill-advised choice for this series. I too was struck by the cynicism of his call for one world champion per division. When Ms. Diamond asks him what he and the WBC are doing to help others, he says that “Every single dollar, peso, euro, yen, etc. that enters the WBC goes back to boxing in one form or another.” That answer is a politician’s evasion. He also says that the sanctioning body’s “priority has always been the welfare of the boxers and the boxing community.” Not only cynical, but untrue. Mr. Sulaiman gives himself away, however unconsciously, by referring to boxers as being “all the same” - he sees them as meat. I’m in favor of the fund, but that doesn’t make up for all the sinning.

    But the deeper issue was well addressed by nicolas - all respect, but Ms. Diamond’s questions do tend to be pretty vanilla. And his very funny way of putting it stung, which explains her falling back on the hackneyed accusation of “sexism.”

    On a lighter note, I agree with NYIrish - he does look like a young and chubby Stallone.

  10. NYIrish 03:20am, 10/08/2014

    The choice of subject shows a basic disconnect that was only hinted at before.

  11. Matt McGrain 11:54pm, 10/07/2014

    Yeah, I agree Jim Crue.  Painting this guy as some sort of philanthropist is a mis-step in what has been a generally excellent series of articles.  It’s hard to make a mistake like that in writing, as I know, so we shouldn’t be to hard on Diamond.
    His conduct doesn’t actually matter that much, by association with this organisation, so nearly sued out of existence by Graciano Rocchigiani, he is pretty much tarnished as a boxing man forever.  But he’s already been uncovered as a probable liar, a butter-smooth PR man, self-contradictory and concerned mostly with grubbing in the dirt for money like his predecessor, who he clearly worships despite all his crimes against boxing.  Anyone read his interview in the Ring?  He expresses his concern about the number of champs in the sport (from memory), and then when he’s asked why WBC hands out “Diamond” and “Silver” belts to anyone who looks sad he replies that “Some fights just need that Championship feel!” or some such inanity.  Here, we see it again.  The guy knows.  He knows what he and his kind are doing to boxing.  The best thing that could happen to boxing, according to him, “One fighter per division named world champion.” The nerve.  The nerve of this man.  I wonder how many belts they will give out this year, these bandits?  I wonder how many completely unqualified fighters will get title shots, be named in the top ten, based upon personal relationships rather than talent?  I wonder if Mauricio will become a lapdog to a promoter like his father was to King? 
    But he’s a “philanthropist”, right?  He’s a “community champion”, yeah?

  12. Jim Crue 07:34pm, 10/07/2014

    Jill, with all respect the WBC is a completely corrupt organization. And they had little to do with 12 round championship fights. The free broadcast networks, who were then showing boxing, wanted 12 rounds because it fit into their one hour broadcast format. They got their way then abandoned boxing, not for the first time. And day before the fight weigh-ins is a terrible idea. I’m certain everyone who is a serious boxing fan and reads this site knows this stuff.
    The WBC has way too many champions. They do this because they get lots of money from the fighters to sanction a “champion”. The ratings are corrupt and on and on. I’m hoping you were not aware of how corrupt this organization is. Anyone who cares about boxing would not give them the time of day.

  13. andrew 07:03pm, 10/07/2014

    Jill: A lot of people think José was a corrupt old bastard and Mauricio has already proven himself a chip off the old block. I think you should choose more universally esteemed people to glorify in your articles.

  14. NYIrish 06:31pm, 10/07/2014

    He kinda looks like a young Stallone in that picture… talking about “condominiums.”

  15. jill diamond 04:09pm, 10/07/2014

    This is a column on sports and philanthropy. Its not intended to be cutting edge; it’s a personal look at people in the community; and important in it’s way. I’m tired of reading just the negative. I don’t seek fantasy, but I want balance. I feel I cover that pretty well.
    I can take fair criticism, but Nicolas, you made an unnecessary, sexist reference so, why don’t you ‘man up’ and use your entire name and email so I can answer you directly? If there’s any question you think I should ask Mr. Sulaiman, please send it. If it’s reasonable, I’m sure he will respond.
    And by the way… the buttons were blue.

  16. nicolas 11:38am, 10/07/2014

    Jill Diamonds interviews remind me of a joke many years ago on a commercial for some news organization, where a “Dumb Blond” (don’t really remember if she was blond) woman is interviewing a character of a Central American dictator in uniform, and asking him “what is his favorite color”.

  17. Matt McGrain 08:01am, 10/07/2014

    “Do you think boxing should be regulated?”
    What a brilliant question.  I’d have to dispute that he’s “given his all and still gives more”, although I suppose you could argue this doesn’t necessarily mean in a positive way?  Still the above question alone was worth the read and even better than the one I would most like to ask him, namely why is Chavez Jnr the #1 Super-middle in the world by the WBC having won just one fight at the weight?

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