The World Boxing Council's 46th annual convention closed today at the Jinjiang Hotel in Chengdu. 458 attendants were registered at the week-long gathering of the world boxing community.
WBC President Jose Sulaiman opened the day by saying, "I believe that we have had a very successful convention. We have dealt with many things that are for the good of boxing."
He went on to thank many of the people who helped make the week so successful and enjoyable, including:
The Convention Host Committee of Chengdu.
Three of the hard working younger generation of the WBC: Secretary General Gabriel Penagaricano of Puerto Rico; Executive Secretary Mauricio Sulaiman of Mexico; and Legal Counselor Robert Lenhardt of the United States.
Ratings committee chairman Frank Quill of Australia.
The WBC staff from Mexico City: President's Assistant Teresa Flores; Director of Communications and Statistics Victor Cota; Director of Press and Protocol Federico Enriquez; and Ratings Luis Medina.
The news media in attendance: James Blears of Reuters; Jose Luis Camarillo of Esto; Sergio Abarca of Notimex; Bob Newman of Fightnews.com; Ludo Saenz of Notifight.com; Dr. Allan Recto of Philboxing.com; Salvador Rodriguez of Record; Diego Martinez of Reforma; Leopoldo Gonzalez of Box Latino; and photographers Sumio Yamada and Carlos Baeza.
During a recess of the assembly, President Sulaiman was interviewed at length by the Central China Television Corporation.
Dr. Paul Wallace, Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board, addressed the attendants and talked about several vital medical items. He also described the WBC's Second World Medical Congress, which was held in Cancun last year and had 300 doctors in attendance from 80 countries, as "Four days of nothing but academic medicine of the highest level possible. Along with the WBC's First World Medical Congress, it was the greatest medical gathering in the history of boxing."
WBCares co-chairperson Jill Diamond organized and led a visit on Thursday to the children in a barrack school at Dujiangyan in the area near Chengdu that was devastated by the tragic recent earthquake. WBC super lightweight world champion Timothy Bradley Jr. of the United States, WBC bantamweight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan, and WBC interim super bantamweight world champion Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan participated in the visit.
Jill described it as, "Amazing. There were about 50 of us. The children were lined up in rows and they clapped as we entered. They probably have never seen such a diversified group of people in their lives - they were so excited! We presented them with a WBC championship belt, and then I had all the WBC people take handfuls of little boxing gloves, donated by Reyes, and hand them out among the children. We signed T-shirts and notebooks. Tim and the two Japanese champions gave a little boxing demonstration and we kept pulling kids out of the crowd to work with them. It was so rewarding. Afterwards, we went to the earthquake site - devastating."
Jill told the children at Dujiangyan, "We come here in all humbleness to offer our support and hopes for your healing. We represent the World Boxing Council and our president Jose Sulaiman. We are citizens of many countries who stand in awe of your courage and bravery in the face of a disaster of untold proportions.
"Our families embrace your families. Our prayers join your prayers. And our hearts, though saddened by your tragedy, are inspired by your ability to face the future despite the pain of the past. This belt we present you is that of a champion. You are our champions. Not because of what you lost, but because you did it without surrender and fought on beyond the final bell. We thank you for the privilege of being with you."
Today, Jill told the assembly, "I couldn't put into words what we felt and how we were treated there. It was a beautiful experience. We thank Alberto Reyes for donating all the gloves for the children, and Timothy and the young champions for giving boxing lessons to the children. I think everyone here, in their hearts, takes away a beautiful experience with them knowing how we, individually, can make a difference. They, in return, presented to the World Boxing Council this beautiful scroll that I would like to present to you, President Sulaiman, and the World Boxing Council."
Regarding the recent news from the convention involving WBC lightweight world champion Manny Pacquiao, President Sulaiman said, "I would like to read a press release that has been prepared because there have been many recent attacks on the WBC for requiring Manny Pacquiao to pay his sanction fee within 15 days, and also to ask him to pay what he should if he wants to use the WBC's title. The release reads as follows: 'The World Boxing Council would like to make a clarification of the position taken unanimously by the Board of Governors and the general assembly during its 46th annual world convention held in Chengdu, China.
"First of all, the WBC would like to express its profound respect and admiration to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the president of the great country, also to the great people of the Philippines, nation that founded the WBC in 1963.
"The whole World Boxing Council considered an embarassment and humiliation, as well as an act of disrespect by Mr. Mike Koncz, who with his communications ill-advising the great champion of the world by disrespecting the organization that opened the doors to opportunities for him to show his greatness.
"First, the WBC has a rule that all champions and challengers must pay a three percent sanction fee to the organization. They humiliated the WBC by questioning the pending $30,000 in his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, which he himself promised to pay months ago, and didn't pay. But now Mr. Koncz is informing that he has to talk with the promoter to see if they are paying or not such debt to the WBC.
"Second, they requested permission to fight Oscar De La Hoya with the WBC approval. In this fight, we estimate that he might make more than $10 million, at least, and he offered to pay the WBC only $20,000, like if we, the WBC, were beggars. The WBC rules are very clear regarding WBC champions fighting without defending his title.
"Third, after the De La Hoya fight without defending his title, he requested the WBC for one other permission to fight Ricky Hatton or Floyd Mayweather – let me clarify: not Manny Pacquiao, but his representative, Mr. Koncz - which means the WBC must freeze the WBC lightweight title for much more than a year, taking away all opportunities to all fighters who are fighting every day to win and fight for the title, to find that there is a barrier and they cannot fight because their champion is not available.
"Therefore, by a unanimous voting of the delegates of the 164 nations present in Chengdu, China, we are granting the representatives of champion Manny Pacquiao 15 days to pay such $30,000 from his fight against Marquez that they promised before his fight that took place against Diaz.
"In regards with his fight against Oscar De La Hoya, instead of the 1.5 percent that he must pay, which is half of the three percent stated in the rules, he must pay $100,000, which is much less, as a sanction fee if he wants to keep the title of the WBC.
"The WBC has nothing against boxers, as we have a pension plan to help with food and medicine for many ex-boxers in the the world. The WBC is only working for the safety of boxers, and not one single member officer of the WBC gets any compensation from the WBC or boxing whatsoever.
"We love Manny Pacquiao. He is our superstar. He is the pride of the WBC and he represents one of the most beloved countries in the world in the WBC, such as the great Philippines, but Mr. Pacquiao is very ill-advised and they are hurting his image and the people that helped open doors for him, without any knowledge of what is fair or what is not and those people advising Manny are not only not doing their right job, but they are hurting his image for what is the truth and with the intention to destroy the image of the WBC, as if we were beggars and belt merchants.
"We will always love Manny Pacquiao whether he stays or not, but we ask him to give consideration to the institution that opened the doors for his greatness.' That's the end of the press release."
In his closing statement, President Sulaiman said, "We come to the end of the congress. Many, many years ago, when I started in boxing, I never imagined that someday I would be involved with a group of people all over the world that have become, through the years, my family. I have met in my life many people, those that have gone ahead of us, many who are not with the WBC any more, many that I have met, but who I will never forget ever in my life.
"I have heard many of your words, and I assure you that I wanted to step down from boxing and try to find a new way, that God may give you, for the rest of my life. I wanted a change. I wanted to relax, to devote time to taking pictures and all that. But when the time came for the convention, I realized that we are a very solid group of people that needs to continue being united, and it would be my obligation to try to find a replacement – there are many, many good candidates – and I would work very hard in that. But now that my son, Mauricio, spoke about my life – really, I have not given my family the time that my family deserves. I have not given my friends the time that they deserve, and I have not given myself the time that I want.
"But boxing has been my life. Every drop of my blood is boxing. Every time that I am in my room – it's a room whose roof is round; I don't like flat because that looks to me like a jail. Round looks to me like the sky, and I like to live in the sky. I dream. The older I get, the more dreams that I have. Many times I've been in that room by myself; many times I've suffered. Many, many, many problems of my people – my beloved people in boxing in the world - many times, believe me, I have cried. I don't like to cry, but tears made me come back stronger. Tears let what I don't want out, and I come out of it stronger.
"I never surrender. I never say that I will not get what I want, and that's a spirit that I've been trying to transfer to all of you. That's what has made my life. But you have joined me in the moments when I have needed you most, and I promise that I will continue doing my very best so that I'm worthy of your confidence and your trust.
"But I have also made a commitment to myself. There are many things in the world that are bad. There is much discrimination. There is much abuse by the wealthy against those that don't have. There's much abuse in boxing by the television companies that have the money and the power. There are so many things that we have to do, and I'm going to fight, for the first time in my life. I'm going to fight the unfair television companies, regardless of their power and their money. I'm going to come fighting as strongly as I can until the last moment of my life. If I have a problem, I will close my door, cry a little bit, smile, get it off my chest and continue my life and the life of the WBC. And I'm sure that you will join me in that.
"I hope that from now on we take a new mental attitude to boxing and the WBC. We cannot be living by ourselves. We have to commit more and more of ourselves to what we have to do. We have to feel that we are are part of something that is important, and not continue living only on our own.
"It's very difficult for me to see the way that boxing is going. It is going very bad. I know, because last night at midnight, I received a call from an American blasting me, as you cannot even imagine, because of the voting of the WBC to have Klitschko fight Gomez. And I'm asking, is it worth it for us to fight so much for the people that do not understand you? That don't care to hurt you when you've done so much for them? Vitali Klitschko would have never fought for the title again without the WBC. He came to this convention and said that he was grateful to the WBC because we followed the rules. And his representative called me last night to call me a bastard.
"I'm just mentioning this case because that's my life. My life is trying to give. I don't care if I receive - I have never cared. When you have a friendship, you must live to serve, not to be served. You must live to make other people happy, not to make yourself happy. You must live to do your best, to leave a mark of your passing through life - not in your time, but after your time. You must be a person that is responsible, someone that lives for others. If we do not receive any compensation, affection, business or whatever, it should not be a problem. We don't want love. What we like: people who join our objectives, our dreams. We want, for the times of our lives, to leave everything for the people that will follow us in our future.
"And this is the four years that I am asking all of you to join me, stronger than ever, because we have many thing to do. And we will do it. We will make it. We will not step aside. We will not go down. We will not surrender. But I cannot do it myself, I cannot. I need all of you to be responsible for the things that we are going to do, and that I will let you know within the following three months.
"And I hope that you understand that I am a human being. I have my heart, I have my mind. In boxing, I have always tried to use my poker face so I cannot transpire, through my face, my feelings. When I see a boxing match, nobody will see me blink. Nobody will see me smile when the boxer that I love is winning. Nobody will see me suffer when he is losing. That's the position that the presidency of the WBC has forced me to take. But I am a human being. I love my friends. I like to feel warmth and care and concern, because I have it for all. And when someone comes and gives that to me, that gives me a way to live. I need you very, very much. Please, don't get away from me. Be close to me.
"The end is closer than yesterday, and I want to be very happy in the years that life can give me. But I think that, at my funeral, you will hear my punches in the casket, and you will hear me speaking long and long and long, and not letting anybody else. And when I let anybody talk, I tell you – two minutes, no more!
"We want to be able to live a happy life. Let's not fight each other anymore in boxing. Let's go to the promoters and make them friends. I've had several meetings at this convention with people that one day later have said, "I'm going to kill you.' They shook hands. Let's try to keep them shaking hands, not go back again to say that they want to kill each other. Let's live a nice life.
"And I'm sure that in four years – I don't know where the convention will be – but in four years, we will have a stronger WBC. We will dominate boxing as we are doing it today. We will be the most respected organization in the world. We will have people that deserve a bite of food - with a bite of food. We will not allow boxers that should not box to go in the ring. We will not allow anybody to be killed because we're careless. We will not allow the powers of the American television to come and step on us. We will not allow what is wrong in what should be right. And if all of us think the same way that I do, if you join me in my objectives and my dreams, I am sure that we will be – all of us – very happy.
"I ask you to bury the past. Bury everything that is bad. We have had many, many things that we have suffered. I hope that we enjoy the fight tonight, that the fight card is very, very good for the good of China.
"You cannot imagine the change that I have suffered in my life. When we went yesterday to this beautiful old town, and we saw all of the people in the town waiting for the WBC, I got scared to see so many serious faces. The mystery, beautiful mystery – because that's China: beautiful mystery – I said, 'What am I going to do?' So what I did was raise my hand and smile. What did I get back? Everybody smiling and everybody raising their hand. That gave me the notice that we don't know what we are talking about when we are talking about the people of the world. We talk of China as being a mystery, a mystery in a different manner. But China is a mystery – a beautiful country of people with tremendous sensitivity and a deep, deep heart.
"When they all showed yesterday to give the WBC a welcoming that I will never forget, it was a great day for me. Thank you so much for coming. I love you all. Every time that I see every face, it brings me the feeling of empathy and love. And I see another one – the same. And I see another one - the same.
"I can only find the words of gratitude for what all of you do for the WBC and myself. Thank you very much. Thank you for your closeness."