Boxing - RIP Jose Sulaiman (1931-2014)

With the death of Don Jose Sulaiman, the world of boxing lost a major statesman and a leading figure who had a major impact on the sport, writes Eric Armit.

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Boxing - RIP Jose Sulaiman (1931-2014)
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RIP Jose Sulaiman (1931-2014)

The longest serving head of any world sporting body, under his stewardship, with his statesmanship and charisma, the WBC emerged as the major sanctioning body in boxing.

He constantly strove to make boxing a safer sport leading the way in many changes aimed at reducing the risk of fatalities and injuries and overcame opposition so that many of these changes are the accepted norm now. That focus on ring safety for me will be his lasting legacy.

In a sport littered with strong personalities, Don Jose displayed the diplomatic skills and personal strength needed to chart a course through the various conflicting interests of major promoters and managers, and keep the WBC at the forefront of the sport.

The WBC also have to be grateful that he had the foresight to ensure continuity through the increasing involvement of his son Mauricio in WBC affairs.

On a personal note, Don Jose and I often had our differences and over the years I have been one of the fiercest critics of the WBC even when working for them. I can honestly say that in all of that time Don Jose never once tried to influence or criticise me for that, and even up until recently was willing, if I had been inclined, to welcome me back into the WBC family.

This inclusiveness and the ‘family’ spirit which he engendered was one of the strengths of the WBC and is evident through its aid to former boxers and the charity work it undertakes.

No one could control a major sanctioning body without being involved in controversy and attracting criticism, and Don Jose had his share of detractors and accusers.

He survived some major crises, made some serious mistakes, lost some court judgments and on occasion imperiled the very existence of the WBC, but was never one to walk away and always regained the confidence and faith of the WBC family.

He is rightly in the Boxing Hall Of Fame, and, in fact, is the only head of a sanctioning body to be so honoured. He richly deserved that accolade and boxing has lost one of the most charismatic and progressive figures the sport has ever seen.  

My deepest sympathies go to Mauricio and to all members of Don Jose’s family. May he rest in piece.

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