3-year Anniversary of Passing
The date of January 16 marked the third anniversary of the passing of beloved World Boxing Council (WBC) President Don Jose Sulaimán Chagnón.
His sons and family held two tributes in honor of the late figurehead in the sport. Here is my special report and photos from the Los Angeles Memorial Mass that took place at the St. Vincent de Paul Church on January 17. Another event was held the previous day (January 16) in Mexico City.
As President, Jose Sulaimán left a lasting legacy both in and out of the boxing ring. His legacy, tradition and policies continue on through Don Jose’s sons Mauricio Sulaimán and Jose Martin “Pepe” Sulaimán. The sanctioning body is known around the globe for their green and gold championship belts along with their many world champs through the decades. The WBC also has organizations such as the North American Boxing Federation (NABF), WBC Cares, etc. Besides their numerous world title fights, the organization also assists boxers in need with both physical and mental health, provides assistance and mentorship to at-risk youth and underprivileged kids and teens, hold charity events for those in need along with community events like 5K runs, WBC and NABF Conventions and the Green Belt Challenge for future champs.
It was a beautiful warm day on Tuesday as the guests all congregated inside the sprawling church where the mass was held. The patriarch of the Sulaimán family passed away on January 16, 2014 at the age of 82. Many past and current champions, fighters, cornermen, promoters and more came out to pay respects to this historic leader in the sport who had also been an amateur boxer, promoter, trainer, referee and judge in the fight game.
Pepe and wife Cecy Sulaimán were seated at the front near a framed photo of the late WBC President. Also anchoring this championship group were the WBC’s Jill Diamond, Nancy Rodriguez, Mo Noor, Jose Manzur, Alex Arreola Sulaimán, Rudy Tellez and more. There were many familiar faces paying their respects to this “lifetime” President who first took the helm in 1975.
Champions and prizefighters present included: Terry Norris, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Ruben Castillo, Paul Banke, Maricela Cornejo, Daniel “El Chapulin” Valdivia, Marvin Cabrera and Joseph Landeros, Golden Boy Promotions’ Roberto Diaz, TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown, PR legend Bill Caplan, current California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) officials Raul Caiz Sr., Raul Caiz Jr., Dr. Paul Wallace, Tom Taylor and Benjamin Rendon, trainer Junior Palafox, trainer/sculptor Steve Harpst, cornerman Shannon Torres-Gilman, Dr. David Hovda (UCLA), actress/writer Carmen LoBue, the Henry Armstrong Foundation’s Edward Scott Jr., the National Boxing Hall of Fame’s Bill and Linda Young, former CSAC inspector Dean Lohuis, Supreme Boxing’s Hector De La Cruz and Lina Baker, commentator Carlos Avilas, among many others.
As Pepe Sulaimán and family greeted all the guests after the service, memories of the late WBC President were shared.
One of the WBC’s popular motto’s is: “My blood is green, my heart is gold…”
And the pugilists reminisced about the boxing leader who treated these athletes like family. The fighters remember someone who took a stand in integrating new rules to help the athletes’ health and safety (15 rounds to 12 rounds in championship matches). Yes, there is also well-documented controversy written about him, as is often the case in the business of boxing. But the boxers and attendees all spoke of a man with a generous heart, a fighting spirit–a dedicated individual who became an icon in the sweet science. Several of the sluggers said they were grateful for all he had done for them during his time in office. They commented that whether you were a current titleholder or an up-and-comer, an old veteran of the blood-and-guts game or a fresh-faced newcomer, Jose Sulaimán had a way of making everyone feel welcome.
Don Jose Sulaimán’s passed away three years ago but on Tuesday it was clear his legacy lives on. And it was evident at this third-anniversary memorial that his boxing family around the globe will not forget him.
Photos by Michele Chong
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