By Alexey Sukachev
Newly appointed WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, the son of late IBHOF entrant Jose Sulaiman Chagnon, recently took some time out of his schedule to visit one of the World Boxing Council’s most progressive members – Russia. The senior president made a two-day business trip to Moscow, and met the local boxing community at the beautiful “Golden Ring” hotel near the historical place of Arbat. Mauricio Sulaiman was accompanied by lovely Oksana Semenishina, the president’s personal representative in Russia, and by the widow of late WBC stalwart Edmund Lipinskiy, one of the founders of Russian prizefighting.
Presented were various factions of the Russian boxing community, including local commissioners from both rival organizations: PBFR – Professional Boxing Federation of Russia (led by president and former amateur legend Victor Ageev and general secretary Igor Mazurov), and RPBB – Russian Professional Boxing Board (led by Mikhail Denisov), journalists, boxers (former EBU champion Andrey Shkalikov and retired IBO champion Alexander Bakhtin were in attendance) and many others.
Sulaiman kicked off the meeting with a friendly contest, presenting trademark WBC T-shirts to those, who have answered his questions correctly. The first question also became the most difficult, as no one in attendance could recall the name of Andrey Rudenko – an unsuccessful challenger to Anaclet Wamba’s WBC cruiserweight title, the first Russian (but actually representing Ukraine among others) to get a shot at a major world title on June 13, 1992, ten days before Yuri Arbachakov bested him by becoming the first to win a major world title (not surprisingly – WBC) for Russia. Getting the correct answers to those questions were Bakhtin and WBC Youth committee member Marina Milovanova.
On a sad note, Mauricio Sulaiman paid a tribute to his late dad and also to Edmund Lipinskiy, a renowned figure among WBC fraternity, but presenting a wonderful bouquet to the widow of the latter. At the end of the meeting, a specifically designated slide-show was presented to the audience, telling the deeds of the former WBC president.
The main part of the meeting was, however, related to various questions from the locals. Not all of them were exceptionally nice for the new president, and here are some of his answers, regarding the current state of the game – in Russia and abroad.
On his major goals
“I want to become a worthy successor of the late great Jose Sulaiman Chagnon. Boxing is facing major challenges, and WBC should address them accordingly. I foresee two major issues, which will be points of out greater attention in the nearest future. The first one is a health care, and one problem I want to address is a problem with gloves. It’s not a secret some boxers and their team members are doing some criminal activity be removing padding from the gloves by carefully slashing and then using them. There were some issues with that, some cases also – in Mexico by one of the Japanese imports. There were similar cases in Venezuela, Panama, Philippines and in other countries, and that’s really troublesome.
"You cannot even imagine how great the damage, inflicted by such gloves, really is. We should fight those activities, and I can advise you to: A). Be more aware and careful while dealing with this type of issues. Officials should be necessarily presented during the taping procedure; they should impose sanctions to prevent those things from happening. B). To do precaution meetings and education, telling boxers, managers, trainers of those harmful thingies.
The second problem is the increasing (and destructive) “rogue” presence of the AIBA. This federation, using its Olympic medals as a shield, is trying to enter the kingdom of pugilism with their own faulted rules and regulations. AIBA is strong and dangerous, and it should be opposed for the good of the sport”.
On an ongoing conflict between the PBFR and RPBB
“My major request for both parties is to communicate in a good manner and with good intentions. WBC is a real fraternity, where there should be no room for quarrels and personal ambitions. The current situation will be resolved over later, when I got to know and carefully weigh-in the positions of both parties and their current status. In a critical turn of events, the decision will be made by the WBC Board of Governors. We should listen to both parties”.
On an increasing number of minor WBC titles
“Our internal structure is a bit complicated, as there are different kinds of subdivisions: federations (like WBC CIS and Slovenian Boxing Bureau) and committees (like WBC Baltic Sea Committee or WBC Mediterranean Committee). They all have their own titles, plus there are more common titles on the planetary scale (like WBC Silver or WBC International titles). They are different, but they exist only to serve the community, to help build the following, to promote prizefighting around the globe. Each of them has its own purpose”.
On the new WBC Eurasian Pacific title that was contested for the first time between Lucas Browne and Eric Martel Bahoeli
“That’s a new title created specifically for the Western Pacific, namely for China and China Zone countries. One fighter – Lucas Browne of Australia – had a right to fight for it; the other – Eric Bahoeli from Canada – was prohibited to win it. We decided to grant the promoter with an exception on a condition that should Bahoeli be the winner, he won’t be awarded the new belt. That wasn’t the best situation but it was ruled as an exception. Normally, we wouldn’t sanction such fights, when one of the boxers clearly belongs to another jurisdiction”.
On a relationship with other sanctioning bodies
“My position is that we should move on together with the WBA, WBO and IBF in good spirit and in good manner. We are all doing the same business, and we respect each other. Certainly, there can be some issues due to different rules and regulations plus there are certain issues with unification fights, but other than the champion, trying to avoid his long due mandatory, we welcome unification contests, and we are ready to support them as soon as our rules are taken into account”.
On an instant replay and open scoring
“We should start using the instant replay in high-profile fights to make our sport more honest and fair. We have a plan how to implement it, and we are moving along. As for the open scoring, our point of view is that it helps a losing boxer to fight no matter of while at the same time preventing unjust decisions from the judges. It’s a complicated case as there are some pluses and minuses of both solutions, but as of now we support the idea of the open scoring”.
On the WBC World Cup
“That was a dream of my father to make it happen. We shall start realizing his dream in the next year if everything will be going on smoothly”.