By Mauricio Sulaimán – son of José Sulaimán – President of the WBC  

November 22, 2023   As I write this column, I am on the other side of the world, where we have been celebrating the Annual Convention of our World Boxing Council.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a clean, modern, attractive, and orderly city with its own individual majestic character and identity. Furthermore, its people are kind, polite, friendly, welcoming, and noble.   We had a wonderful convention in which we had the attendance of 1,137, with delegates from 102 countries. It was called “Convention of World Peace and Unity.” Its most significant moment was having received a message by videoconference from the Holy Father Pope Francis, in which he gave a blessing to the entire WBC family and the entire community of the boxing
Uzbekistan has prominently featured for years in amateur boxing with Olympic medals, and the deep passion they have for our sport is inspiring.   Amateur and Olympic boxing is a vital element, where young people begin the dream of one day winning medals, and later, conquering the championship belt. The zenith accolade of Green and Gold.
Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Óscar de la Hoya, among many more, achieved Olympic glory, to continue their professional destiny path of achievement reaching the highest level and legendary status.
The boxing card marked the closing of our convention, a spectacular event in Humo Arena, a first-world place which was filled with 12 thousand spectators. The card was broadcast around the world by DAZN, ESPN Knockout in Latin America, as well as by Heraldo TV in Mexico as well as many other networks worldwide.
We witnessed the awesome punching power of the gigantic Uzbek boxing prospect, Bakhodir Jalolov, who overwhelmed and knocked out South African Chris Thompson in the first round, roared on by an adoring crowd. Carlos Cuadras was once again crowned WBC champion, defeating Pedro Guevara on points for the interim WBC super flyweight title in all Mexican thriller. What a comeback!

Our host, Mr. Gafur Rahimov, known as The Father of Boxing in Uzbekistan, went far beyond expectations, constantly going the extra mile, providing the delegates and champions present with Convention worthy of being remembered forever.
The presence of great world champions, such as Julio César Chávez, Roberto Durán, Oleksandr Usyk, Amir Khan, Kostya Tszyu, Billy Dib, Adonis Stevenson, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Lukasz Rozanski, Michal CieslakCarlos Zárate, Humberto González, Daniel Zaragoza, Tomoki Kameda, Carlos Cuadras, Pedro Guevara, Carlos Molina, Bakhodir Jalolov, Sergey Kovalev, Timor Ibragimov, Delfine Persoon, Michael Magnesi, Scott Welch, Shannon Briggs, and several others made every second magic as there was absolute friendly encounters at all times.
The presence of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield gave a magical touch to each of the moments they spent together at several events. The boxers were determined to justify their special presence and opened their heart to all convention attendants and Uzbekistan locals. Both received special tributes for their illustrious careers and made a huge impact as this convention is considered the greatest sporting event in the history of this country.
Holyfield was with Usyk, both were undisputed cruiserweight champions, and Oleksandr will seek to be undisputed monarch, on February 17, against Tyson Fury. Usyk was honored to be at the convention, and humbly expressed his much desire to become WBC champion next February 17 in Riyadh.
Mike Tyson is, without a doubt, the most famous boxer in the world. Lived his visit intimately and saw the reaction, the emotion, and the tears that he generates. I remembered Muhammad Ali when he visited the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and now I experienced that phenomenon with Mike.
Ak and Barak were the masters of ceremony and did an incredible job making the grand opening memorable.   Last week was very physically and emotionally exhausting, but I can say that it has been one of the very finest conventions in our WBC history. It has created and established history in this great country, as the biggest and best event for Uzbekistan, lauded by all members of the government and their sports organizations. A brilliant triumph.
Extensive workdays, review of presentations, program results and projection of actions, to be carried out in 2024. Ratings and order of mandatory fights, visit to the Paralympic Center and orphanage, where Tyson, Holyfield, champions, and members of WBC Cares made that day unforgettable for those who opened their home to us.   I will be making several reports of the so many important topics that were analyzed and discussed as well as implemented, we have a heavy plan of action for 2024.
The social activity was spectacular. The gala dinner on Monday was in a beautiful palace, the tables full of food and dishes, the participation of the delegates from more than 100 countries present, regardless of the barriers of language. Unity surpasses all frontiers.
The talent show night was a complete success, I had to hit the drums hard and thus release a lot of stress and energy. At the closing dinner, a tribute was paid to Tyson, and all the champions took the stage to be dressed as sultans with traditional robes and caps, giving a great touch of the globalization of the sport of boxing, through the WBC.   DID YOU KNOW…? The annual conventions are the place where issues are discussed, where the most important decisions in the history of boxing have been made, based on medical, technical and all kinds of studies, as proposals are analyzed and votes are cast to put them into motion. That’s how it was when it went from 15 to 12 rounds in 1992, when the official weigh-in was changed to a day before the fight in 1989, and so many others.
Today’s anecdote Conventions were my dad’s happiest time of the year; That was where he saw so many dear people from all over the world, and where the greatest productivity was achieved, to tirelessly continue the work of making boxing safer.   He always took a few days of rest afterwards. His favorite place when they were in Asia was Hong Kong at the Regency Hotel, where he would sit in the afternoons drinking coffee and meditating on the bay, looking at the activity of boats coming and going.   “My son, just as I have always told you, it is very important to serve everyone who seeks you and do so with respect, regardless of who it is or the topic at hand. Look how here, at the Conventions, so many people traveled from so far to present their programs, or are simply here to talk to us.” Those days of rest allowed him to recharge his batteries and to return with all the courage to execute the work plan!
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