On December 5, 1975, our beloved Don Jose Sulaiman was unanimously elected President of the World Boxing Council in Tunisia.
Today we are celebrating 47 years of that history changing event, along with all the people who are part of this amazing and continuing story.
This is so much more than a celebration, as we recognize and commemorate the tremendous man who insured the survival of Boxing. But also went on to develop it into a safer and more humane sport. This spanned almost four decades, as President, but encompassed his entire lifetime.
Whoever imagines things were easy for our Leader, is demonstrably wrong. He had to fight long and hard against vested interests, ending some absurd traditions, rectifying the foolishness of many and above all, he did this in the face of some, who merely saw boxing in terms of: “Greenbacks.”
Our Lifelong President worked for all of this from the very first day of his mandate, determined to better and improve Boxing with dozens of vital innovations which transformed it.
And throughout, Don Jose’s primary aim and accompanying guiding light was the protection and well being of the boxer, from the beginning of the career, to retirement and well beyond. He was the fighters’ Fighter, always championing them.
Now all the pugilists endorsed by the WBC count with the excellence of the services and medical care. We also managed to fight for biggest purses to recognize those who climb the ring.
The dedication, knowledge and compassion of Don José Sulaiman Chagnon currently appears in each and part of the world in which organized boxing is present. It was his hallmark, and it is and will forever be the bright eternal flame of his legacy. So many are so grateful for these diverse and extraordinary array of his achievements, which form the basis of modern Boxing.
Don Jose was a man who truly cared. It defined him as a person, and he’ll always be remembered for it.
He transformed boxing with great achievements, including and just to mention a few:
12 rounds title fights – The most important rule in the history of boxing. Don Jose reduced the title fights from 15 to 12 rounds. Medical studies confirmed that the last 3 rounds had an inhuman consequence on fighters due to dangerous dehydration .
24 hours weigh-in – This change served to reduce the risk of dehydration and mental strain for the contestants who the day before the fight could neither eat nor sleep well. Previously the weigh-ins used to took place on the same day of the fight. Additionally, mandatory preventive weighing was instituted 30, 14 and 7 days before the fight.
Ring Telmex – Telcel Grant: José Sulaimán found in his close friend, Mr. Carlos Slim, the means to reach an agreement with Fundación Telmex, in order to provide a life pension and provide health insurance to glories of the past. The Ring Telmex program was also created to provide monthly grants to support top prospects.
Medical Studies – It was established as mandatory for every fighter to undergo intensive medical studies every year. Likewise, all fighters must take exams before and after their matches.
Anti-doping tests – Starting in 1976, José Sulaimán instituted mandatory anti-doping tests in all world championship fights. The WBC became the first sports organization to take this vital step.
Champions Fund – With the eternal reality of seeing past stars fall on hard times, José Sulaimán always dreamed of creating a fund to be able to continuously and formally support the greatest number of idols with housing needs, medical expenses, basic food and more. The luxurious and prestigious company Hublot joined the WBC in this commitment by holding an auction that contributed with one million dollars as an initial fund.
In addition Don Jose contributed in so many other ways: intermediate divisions, the four ropes ring, the glove with attached thumb, donations to UCLA for scientific research, life insurance and hospitalization for all those fighters who participate in cards with title fights on the line, the fight against the “Apartheid” in South African boxing, which even earned our President the recognition at the United Nations.