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WBC Press Release

From the office of WBC President Jose Sulaiman:

The following is one of the weekly “Hook to the Liver” columns by WBC President Jose Sulaiman that are published in El Universal every Sunday. From May 16, translated from Spanish:


By Jose Sulaiman

The World Unfair to Boxing Idols.

How sad, but also how exemplary the life of Joaquin Capilla, the greatest Mexican Olympic medalist, with four medals in three games, while being the absolute best diver during close to 10 years. He studied architecture at the UNAM, but abandoned his studies to dedicate totally to diving. He retired in 1956 after winning a gold and a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

The WBC celebrated its 20th anniversary on February 7, 1983, in Mexico City with the attendance of top sports and movies celebrities, among whom were Mario Moreno “Cantinflas,” the diva Maria Felix, the immortal actor Ignacio Lopez Tarso, the MOC president Mario Vázquez Raña, the unforgettable TV producer Ernesto Alonso, and countless more of the top VIPs of the time.

A man dressed in an old beige suit and old tennis shoes, and looking old, tired and depressed, walked towards me saying, “Thank you for your invitation. There was a long time since anybody had done so,” and when I looked at him with inquisitive eyes, he added, “I am Joaquin Capilla.” I couldn’t believe it – the greatest Mexican Olympian of all time, looking like that? There had been a long time since I had known about him, but we still looked for him for the invitation. I hugged him with admiration and led him to a table to sit by other great Mexican athletes and personalities.

He was with Raton Macias, Rubén Olivares, José Nápoles, the major leaguer Hector Espino, the great boxing commentator Jorge “Sony” Alarcon, Kid Azteca, managers Cuyo Hernández and Pancho Rosales, and so many other greats. I saw him laugh, talk, and enjoy himself tremendously without sipping a beer or any other alcoholic drink. Mexico had forgotten about him, depression led him to the lowest levels deep in alcoholism for many years. I sincerely felt embarrassed with myself – he had been my great hero.

He met and married Carmelita, his savior, his angel, who led him to believe and God and become a fervent Christian. A couple of months ago, at the age of 82, Conade and its director, Bernardo de la Garza, named him the Mexican athlete of the year. With the award close to his heart, he left this world a poor but happy man.

This brought to my mind so many similar cases in boxing of great champions who once filled the eight columns of the papers, the radio, and the TV screens, only to go to starvation at the end of their careers and cry with sadness and nostalgia for their great past times. They were abandoned by their promoters and managers, and later by the media and the public. Nobody, absolutely nobody, did anything to carry their age and poverty with some dignity.

There cannot be any single boxing promoter, commissioner, people of television, and in general in the boxing industry that can live without feeling terribly bad while there is one single boxer in the world who is unable to live out of poverty, and without some decency and dignity.

Battling Siki, the first African champion of the world, was shot in the back outside of a bar in Brooklyn during the times of discrimination. The police did nothing, and he was buried in a multiple burial. The great lightweight Beau Jack, a shoeshine boy as an adolescent, and a shoe shine boy after being an idol in boxing;    Ike Williams, one of the greatest lightweights ever, who KO’d Juan Zurita at El Toreo in Mexico, died very poor but with much dignity; Benny Leonard, one of the greatest in the history of the sport, died while refereeing where he made peanuts; Henry Armstrong, the only World Champion in three different divisions simultaneously – ever; Sansaek Muangsurin, from Thailand, once married to a beautiful Thai actress, who in a time of need was allowed to fight Tommy Hearns with one blind eye; Pascualito Perez, a boxing hero from Argentina, having a funeral on a street of Buenos Aires; “El Chango” Casanova, who died in a corner of a room covering himself from an “attack from the devil;” the Cuban Kid Chocolate, who is believed to be the greatest Cuban fighter ever, who left the island to conquer New York and the world, dying without a piece of bread; Antonio Cervantes – “Pambele,” from the highest of the limelights to the lowest; Kid Gavilán, who fought Ray Robinson and the best welter and middleweights of his time, leaving this world sad and abandoned …. and I could go on and on forever and ever.

It is here when my deepest pride of the WBC comes as even with limited possibilities, the organization has a plan with modest pensions that are given to several fighters in the world to try to help them with food and medicine, but there is not enough money to confront the so many needs of all those who took boxing to become heroes and win money, but who never knew, nor had any support to end their lives with happiness and dignity.

This is the time when promoters should understand that boxing is not only promoting fights and making money; that managers should also manage boxers to help them in protecting their future; that we, the commissioners, should understand that our commitment is not only to rating fighters and sanctioning matches, or have meetings and going to fights, but all of us must also try to find unity in the implementation of pension funds, and do whatever is necessary to amend a history that describes poverty as the kingdom of champions.

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