By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán
|(May 30, 2023) ROUND 12: THE BUBBLE By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán The vast majority of the boxers in the world are born in humble homes and rocked in modest cradles, teething and then cutting their teeth in jagged, fractured pervading social circumstances mired in tough neighborhoods, where many must muster fight to survive throughout brief kerbstone hard childhoods. On the streets, there are many adverse situations and toxic, rotten temptations that can lead to a life crookedly meandering down the wrong path to easy street or Hogarth’s Gin Lane, soaked, drenched and pervaded with alcohol, drugs, trafficking, delinquency, crime and degradation, jabbed with quick fix gratification, but with a high accompanying risk of going to jail or death or both. Boxing is a lifeline escape and an opportunity for those who choose a future of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication in search of a better outcome for themselves and their family. It is a difficult sport, necessitating many years of learning, focus, dedication, and discipline, in addition to the need to have physical gifts, a big heart, and a determination to follow a path with no guarantee of ultimate success. Of the many who box, few are fabulously successful. The boxer puts and trusts themselves in the hands of the coach, who sometimes is their own father, and if he is not, he definitely comes to occupy that father figure through the years of perseverance. The boxer starts with learning how to move and place the feet, how to throw a jab, then other punches, how to swivel the waist, turn, block, parry keep the chin tucked into the chest and effectively move around the ring. They start with the mitts, the heavy bag, and the speedbag, accompanied by all kinds of stretching and strength exercises, sit-ups and push-ups, but before all this, the long, grueling run of at least six miles every morning. The vast majority do not have financial resources to eat adequately, take vitamins or initially obtain their own equipment. In addition to running and training, they have one, two and even three jobs to survive. The amateur boxing career begins, eventually reaching the pros, becoming a prize fighter. When debuting, and for a long spell the purses are minimally modest. Fighting for peanuts, as they say colloquially. Many cannot stay the course and stray off the long and winding road, even when they have had the faculties and possibilities to excel. Many start, yet few reach and surpass the milestone of triumphant achievement. For the few, the time comes to stand out and prove how outstanding they really are. A championship is won, with it comes fame, money, and different new opulent temptations. Initially everything is ideal, the first action is to buy a house for mom, and glory is present every second of the day. But then, as the triumphs continue to accumulate, more money, friends, opportunists, and temptations sidle along. The champion is surrounded with an entourage of collaborators who carry out a series of different activities, but who generally serve as company. Then comes that fight which changes everything, the day they become the superstar and that is where they enter an impenetrable bubble, where there are only those who give pleasure, joy through adulation, travel and entertainment, and the focus dimension is then lost. Luxuries, cars, jewelry, houses, and unimaginable expenses for mere mortals accumulate, it all gathers pace and its own momentum in time and space. A juicy, succulent payment from a recent fight, and it is swallowed up then gone, since the next fight is already signed away. And so it goes on like this for years until there is no next fight, no next time, and no salvation. The monarch loses the championship, the career fades, the best years are past, the belt is gone, and with it the entourage, the bubble has burst. Minus money, facing penury with time running out, the urge to return to the ring becomes an overwhelming necessity. There are some successful cases, but few and far between, where the fighter manages to keep finances and life under control. There are those who fate blesses with a guiding angel during that time of great temptations portending paradise lost and who, when they retire, continue with a dignified and economically stable life. I am convinced that there are more and more people who can be free and free themselves of the bursting bubble, since there is more education and keys to open locks to throw wide portals of opportunity. The World Boxing Council (WBC) has been implementing education courses of all kinds for some time through the WBC University, and it will be a top priority to establish financial and legal education programs to reach the largest number of fighters in the world in coordination with national federations, boxing commissions, and above all, promoters and their managers, who have direct access to the fighter. Enabling directions, paths, roads and highways, governing destiny. My dad’s dream was a helping hand fund. It became a practical reality in 2012, when the Hublot luxury watch company, together with the WBC, held a special edition auction of 12 exquisite commemorative time pieces and raised a million dollars to create the “José Sulaimán Boxers Fund.” Carlos Slim provided support for five years through the Ring Telmex Telcel Foundation and in this way, year after year, a significant number of boxers around the world receive support to attend and fend off various emergencies. Did you know…? Mike Tyson squandered a fortune of 400 million dollars. Fate then put a fantastic woman in his life, his wife Kiki, and today he lives happily as a successful and hard-working businessman who has learned to be astute, with wisdom gained via some hard knocks. Today’s anecdote My dad suffered a lot from seeing these hardship cases where those who were legends of the ring, idols of the world, ended up on the street in desperate circumstances. One day, Don José told Julio César Chávez: “My dear champion, what do you think if you take half of your purse that you are going to have against Macho Camacho, and open a bank account that you cannot touch until you retire?” And the answer was: “Oh please, the money I have is enough even for my grandchildren!” Thanks to God, Julio has been clean for 13 years, works hard and lives happily, with very good income, beside of his great wife Miriam.