Ten-Count for Jose Sulaiman

By Robert Ecksel on January 16, 2014
Ten-Count for Jose Sulaiman
Impurists are likely to feel that as long as they're getting theirs, nothing else matters.

Sulaiman was an amateur boxer, trainer, promoter, judge and referee, before joining the World Boxing Council in 1968…

“Jose Sulaiman is the greatest boxing man I’ve ever met. I think he is a knight in shining armor for the boxer.”—Don King

Jose Sulaiman, president of the WBC for more than three decades, passed away today in Los Angeles at the age of 82.

Born José Sulaimán Chagnón on May 30, 1931, in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Sulaiman was an amateur boxer, trainer, promoter, judge and referee, before joining the World Boxing Council in 1968. Seven years later he was elected president.

During his long and contentious reign, many changes in boxing have occurred. Fifteen-round championship fights were reduced to 12 rounds, weigh-ins before fights were pushed back 24 hours, and the standard eight weight classes were expanded to such an extent that the sport ceased resembling what it once was.

Each of us has our own thoughts about the changes Sulaiman instituted. Purists are likely to feel that he watered down the sport, tampered with that which didn’t need tampering. Impurists are likely to feel that as long as they’re getting theirs, nothing else matters.

Although he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007, controversy dogged Sulaiman throughout his life. His longtime relationship with promoter Don King, another IBHOF inductee, was a sticking point for those distressed at boxing’s relative fall from grace.

Jack Newfield, who wrote eloquently if not impartially about King in “Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King,” said that Sulaiman “became more King’s junior partner than his independent regulator.” Peter Heller, author of “In This Corner . . . !: Forty-two World Champions Tell Their Stories,” wrote than “Sulaiman…became little more than an errand boy for Don King.”

Of course not everyone agrees. The WBC released a statement which reads:

Jose Sulaiman will be remembered as a man of integrity, honorability and pure heart. Inspired by his heroes, believed in unbreakable values and principles and lived a life to the fullest and he did it his way, as Frank Sinatra would sing on “My Way”.

Always successful, a natural leader who would never give up, “there are no impossible tasks, some just take a bit longer”. That was the spirit of Don Jose. His life dedicated to the service of others, inspired by his parents education and example, led to a life full of satisfactions, he took tremendous joy by helping others, specially the underprivileged and the discriminated.

Many call him the father of boxing; he certainly treated all fighters as his sons and daughters, he suffered from their problems and worked every single day of his life to try to make boxing better and safer. Regardless if the boxer was an amateur or if he was Mike Tyson or Chavez, he would treat them the same and would relentlessly try to help each one at all times.

Nelson Mandela inspired him to fight against discrimination, battled Apartheid and always struggled to prevent the abuse of power, which hurt the lesser gifted. He led many actions towards dignifying the sport of boxing, the female practice of boxing and the justice for trainers, managers, promoters and specially boxers.

Pope John Paul II inspired him to be a better human being every day and to be humble, to serve and love. Pope Francis brought faith back to him in these few months as God’s representative on earth and the Virgin of Guadalupe remained by his side at all times while Jesus Christ was his greatest guide and inspiration.

Our dear father fought the last 12 rounds of his life, inspired by his hero Muhammad Ali, his corner formed by many doctors, nurses, care partners, therapist, lift team and staff at 7ICU at UCLA and with thousands cheering him from all over the world…

The final bell rang; Jose Sulaiman, winner by unanimous decision!

Sulaiman may have enriched himself at boxing’s expense, but he wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last. May he find greater favor in the beyond than he earned here on earth.

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  1. Ted 07:55am, 01/21/2014


  2. NYIrish 05:47am, 01/20/2014

    They’re in the ginmill next to the funeral parlor.

  3. Ted 11:19am, 01/19/2014

    Hello, anyone home?

  4. Ted 12:06pm, 01/18/2014

    Has his son taken over his duties? Is his name Jose as well?

  5. NYIrish 06:13pm, 01/17/2014

    Went to the funeral of a very good man today. It wasn’t him.

  6. nicolas 09:39am, 01/17/2014

    Regarding Sulaiman, He may have done some good things for the sport, I think however his relationship with Don King in the 80’s and early 90’s is what has hurt his legacy for many Americans. I think in Mexico he is looked upon favorably. During the time there was only the WBA and WBC, the sport seemed to be healthy, but with the arrival of the IBF in 83, and the WBO in 88, the sport definitely took a dive. This was not his fault, though I think that he took an active interest in keep the WBC at the top, and compared to the WBA, I think that he was rather successful. I wish that like in the 70’s with Duran-De Jesus, Monzon-Valdez, and then in the early 80’s with Leonard-Hearns, he would have continued with the idea of a unified champion, instead of the WBC policy of you either have the WBC belt, and nothing else. Enough said.

  7. Robert Ecksel 07:57am, 01/17/2014

    Maybe your mom was right. Maybe not. Did she have any observations about telling the truth?

  8. Jim Crue 07:00am, 01/17/2014

    my mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all

  9. Clarence George 03:58am, 01/17/2014

    Requiescat in pace, of course, but I was far more affected by the death of Russell Johnson.  In addition to appearing in Roger Corman’s wonderful B sci-fi film, “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” Johnson played the Professor on “Gilligan’s Island.”  Only two cast members remain, which makes me feel quite old, Tina Louise (Ginger) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann).  The role of Ginger was first offered to Jayne Mansfield.

    Dave Madden, who played Reuben Kincaid on “The Partridge Family,” died the same day.  Meaningless coincidence or something far more sinister?  Well…probably meaningless coincidence.

  10. David Payne 01:20am, 01/17/2014

    As always Robert, you cut to the core of the issue with a withering panache.

  11. Barok 09:46pm, 01/16/2014

    Farewell Don Jose. Filipino boxing fans will remember you for your closeness with Rudy Salud and for giving recognition to Filipino boxers.

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