RingSide Report

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WBC Breaking News: Hook to the Body

By José Sulaimán

The multitude attending the induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame was so numerous, as perhaps never before. Just imagine: Julio César Chávez, Mike Tyson and “Rocky” Sylvester Stallone – at the same time – plus the great Russian Kosta Tzsyu, the manager Ignacio Beristain, and the referee Joe Cortez.

After the end of the induction, I stayed by myself after everybody had left and kept thinking with sadness of all that extraordinary history – of victories and accomplishments that filled their eras with emotion and idolatry by millions of fans, an era that has gone and will never return. I also felt deep pride for having been a humble part of those brilliant times as the three of them, Chávez, Tyson, and Tzsyu were proud WBC champions who had also a personal relation and many anecdotes through the years.

I thought at those moments of loneliness, that the ceremony represented to me what life is: to be and later not to be; multitude and emptiness; the limelights on the ring during the nights of glory, and the obscurity of an empty arena; the dedication, sacrifices and efforts to reach the peak, and then to live a life remembering past deeds.

This is the reason for me to congratulate the International Boxing Hall of Fame and its CEO, Ed Brophy, for leading the opening of the doors of immortality to those who stood at the top of the world of boxing for their deeds and glory in our beloved sport.

I continued a very long trip from L.A. for the Zbik-Chavez fight to Canastota for the Hall of Fame, to the NABF convention in Atlantic City, and from there to Brockton, Massachusetts, where the only heavyweight who retired as world champion without never losing a fight, Rocky Marciano, was born, and where the WBC will have a statue placed in a posthumous honor. Rocky lived rough time for the abnormal treating of some press – what a surprise – and they even called him the “tuerto” King in the country of the blind due to the alleged low-quality of the division at the time. But with his punching power and the style of a charging bull, he quieted all of his detractors to stay undefeated forever. This is the traditional way of boxing: when you are succeeding, there is much jealousy, bitterness and envy, the traditional detractors! It made me remember the hatred of some Mexican fans against José Medel, as he always defeated el “Toluco” López, a king in the rings and in the mexican bars.

Rocky Marciano signed to fight what remained of the great Joe Louis, who was the boxing hero of my father and the first boxer that I ever knew about when I, as a child, heard on the radio, with all its static, his fight against Max Schmeling and in his old age, my dear friend. I went with my uncle Mike to see the Marciano-Louis fight and left the arena with tears and a certain rancor for the beating that Rocky gave to Joe. It was published at the time that after the fight, Rocky went to Joe’s dressing room in tears to hug his biggest hero since his childhood. Joe Louis had the record of most title fights ever in boxing until the time that the Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez broke it with 37 world championship bouts!! Rocky was to become the heavyweight champion of the world and the only one to retire undefeated, with a 49-0 record.

The Mayor of the city, Linda Balzotti, Larry Siskind, the chairman of the Rocky Marciano Committee, and an important number of officers and executives, as well as many boxing lovers greeted me in a very nice and hospitable manner in Brockton, Massachusetts. That raised my boxing spirit. We were to have a reunion to discuss the sculpture that the WBC was donating to the city of Brockton with the company of the WBC’s Jill Diamond, Mike George, Don Majeski and other friends. I heard with emotion the many anecdotes told on the microphone by different old timers, on different actions by Marciano, including the times of his being a baseball player or even meeting him down the street, that filled the totally full dinner place with nostalgia and admiration of their past hero who died in an airplane crash while still very young. I left Brockton feeling that all of its citizens still had in their hearts the hero that would continue leading the city to progress in the future.

During my flight back to Mexico via Guadalajara, for the first title defense of Canelo Alvarez against Ryan Rhodes, my mind seemed to have me flying from the past to the present – of the glories of the K.O. King Mike Tyson, of the greatest Mexican boxer of all time, Julio Cesar Chávez, as well as the greatest Russian boxer in history and the hero Rocky Marciano, whose ceremonies I had just attended, to the new kings of boxing of today, like Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Sergio Martínez, and Vitali Klitschko, and the new mexican heroes J.C. Chavez Jr. and Saul Alvarez, to mention a few, who are today going into the ring trying to reach the glories of the heroes of the past while substituting and filling the idolatry of those boxing idols who have just retired, or are close to it today.

Everything in my mind was the relation of the ceremony of induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Rocky Marciano sculpture, because both ceremonies represent the glorious past of boxing, and the present times, after seeing J.C. Chávez courageously win the WBC middleweight world championship in a close fight – the first Mexican born to do it – and my traveling to Guadalajara to see the other Mexican hope, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, make his first defense of the WBC super welterweight world title on a night where he showed the excellency of his boxing, speed and power, that we had not seen before.

It also came to my mind my recognition, admiration, and respect for the thousands, probably millions, of human beings that struggle every day of their lives to leave a distinguished mark of their passing through life, who I modestly join as a simple person who came to life during the 20th and 21st centuries, with the same efforts of the boxing heroes mentioned in this article.

Thanks for reading my thoughts.

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