Castle’s Corner Exclusive:  Breaking Bread With Jose Sulaiman

castle ac3ffIn April of 2009, I was invited to the Mexican estate of WBC President Jose Sulaiman to discuss the current state of boxing.

The following game of word association is what ensued with the ever gracious and humble leader…

1. Antonio Margarito

His violation of the rules is very serious and cannot be left unpunished, but I don’t believe that Margarito knew about it.

I was a boxer for five years as a child. I knew then how my trainer wrapped my hands.

I’ve been in dressing rooms thousands of times, and witnessed thousands of hands wrapped. I’ve never seen a boxer totally concentrated on the wrapping. They trust the trainer. If a manager says, “move the hand,” they move it accordingly. Many people actually talk to the boxers during this, and boxers are talking to them as well.

In Mexico, most trainers use an already wrapped “Coginettas” — cushions, only 3 or 4 times to the width of the hand. It’s already made to fit the width of the hand, and they put it on to protect the knuckles. Perhaps the trainer already had the Plaster of Paris ready. The trainer should be punished.

I spoke to many champions, who said they trust managers and I have a list of the conversations with them in my office. I didn’t find one single boxer who said they paid specific attention to the wrapping.

I will respectfully address the commission, as a colleague, with all respect to California, which has always been close to Mexico.

It’s the commission supervisor that should be responsible.

And finally, Antonio did fight without the bandaging…

2. Unification of Sanctioning Body Belts

With several promoters and cable television stations, it would be impossible to have only one champion. They would not allow it, because it would be monopolized by America, because that’s where the money is.

What about the other 150 countries that show boxing? How will American television accept foreign challenges. It will be totally in the hands of big television, while all the small television companies and countries will be at the mercy of the big American television stations.

So boxing would become like American football. There are American football leagues in Europe, but who cares. They only care about American football — and I don’t want that to happen to boxing!

There should be one organization, but it would be absolutely impossible – only 17 fights.

I don’t think America is ready to not allow its world power, arrogance, and abuse of authority to let the control of boxing go outside of the United States.

Just like in the 1920’s, it would be a fatal American monopoly, without opportunities to the other developing countries.

There are different types of organizations, and I don’t like to speak badly of other organizations.

I like to say the WBC is made up in office of the Board of Governors, who must be official commissioners of the World Boxing National Confederations.

I don’t want to criticize anybody. The other organizations have their own structure, that are not at all similar to the WBC.

3. Ring Magazine Rankings and Champions

Any newspaper or magazine can rank boxers as they please. I doubt that they may have solid information about boxing results.

So their ratings are particular. No other magazine would accept as valid the ratings of any other magazine but theirs.

Nat Fleischer died many many years ago. His followers have had, as a policy, to discredit and defame all organizations, and even people in boxing.

The Ring Magazine belt was created for a boxing promotion, to have its own championships and under its own authority. That’s all, but as a person of boxing, it’s such a mess in the world, and with the wealth and power of American promoters in boxing, there are several other organizations that are nothing but belt merchants.

I believe in having great respect and idolatry for Oscar De La Hoya as a boxer. He was a great WBC Champion, and I wish him well as a promoter. But with all due respect, a Ring Magazine belt should be made of paper, because today nobody in the world really gives them any right, authority, or even recognition.

The only way that the promoter could validate it’s promise to keep it separate, would be if the promoter has nothing to do with the Ring Magazine in boxing.

I would like to state that I’m not attacking. I prefer to keep quiet rather than make a statement that I don’t feel. Either I state the truth, or I keep quiet. But it’s only my truth, which could be wrong.

Golden Boy does not need to use a belt for its promotions, because no other promoter, in not one single country, would accept it to be a reality, or a real championship.

If Golden Boy has such a good boxing structure, good officers, great support from HBO, and many good boxers, then they would be very successful, without raising jokes amongst the boxing people with the belt.

4. HBO, Showtime and ESPN

They have been very good for boxing. They have brought good money and exposure. There’s no question about it.

But at this moment in time, they are practically monopolizing the sport of boxing.

Now, they accept, reject and select challengers for all titles they want to buy — and everyone has contracts with all boxers that they cannot fight for any other television organizations. If that is not monopoly, I want to ask, what is?

Also, the large television corporations usually pick only the top of the cream of boxers, and they fight amongst themselves, and for themselves. Here I ask, “What would the television corporations do without the International boxing organizations, when we are the ones that find the boxers, that rate them in the world classifications, that projected moving them up in the ratings, according to their victories?”

We are the ones that help recognize the merits of all promoters, regardless of their nationality. We are the people that institute safety measures and rules, that buy life insurances, and that try to keep one sole image of the whole of world boxing.

While the television companies would only care about their own boxers…

So I have one other question — “How can the television corporations choose the top of the cream, if they don’t produce the cream?”

The cream is produced by the top boxing organizations, and the world organizations.

And to those that say that the cream is the television money, I say there is no money without the cream — and much less, the top of the cream, which is the level of selection of the television corporations. Without boxers, no cream, and therefore, no top of the cream.

5. Final Thoughts

There is no financial relationship whatsoever between American television and the WBC!

They use the ownership of our officially registered trademark and championships accolade without paying for that one single penny.

We don’t even get donations to help boxers in need. To help us in paying hospital expenses, or any action in relation to the welfare of boxers at all.

However, we try to have very good and very respectful relations as people of this sport, and human beings. But even so, the commentators constantly harass and punish the International boxing institutions and their people, with no recognition at all of the trademark that they are showing.

The WBC would like very much in the future, to sit down with the television corporations, and try to get together for the benefit of boxing. The only way that boxing can be saved from the paws of the mercenaries is with unity, mutual cooperation, and respect, as well as the clarification of what is wrong and what is bad.

I join President Obama, with profound respect and humility — President Obama of the United States, who recently said that no country of the world, regardless of wealth and power, will accomplish anything for the good, without world unity.

HBO and Showtime have shown the greatest fights ever. When HBO did 20 Greatest Fights of the Century, 18 were of the WBC.


Castle’s Corner would like to thank Jill Diamond, John Brister and Alberto Reyes, along with the entire WBC staff, and of course Don Sulaiman himself.

Heartfelt acknowledgments to Alex Ramos and Jacquie Richardson of the RBF (Retired Boxers Foundation), and JABS VI (Jazz and Boxing Society for the Visually Impaired).


Comment on this article


-Radam G :

Nice copy! Now that he has demised, it seems as if the late WBC Prez Jose Sulaiman's input is echoing from behind those Pearly Gates up high. Wow! He has one strong spirit. Holla!