jose sulaiman january 2014The president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Jose Sulaiman died at the age of 82 at the University of California Los Angeles on Thursday.

Sulaiman had been in charge of the popular boxing organization since 1975. He was admitted to hospital in October due to a heart condition and underwent heart bypass surgery at the time.

His death was confirmed by the WBC and his son Mauricio. While he was hospitalized in November, he was elected as president for life at the WBC’s yearly convention which was held in Thailand.

Sulaiman had been around boxing all of his life and fought as an amateur. He then dabbled in training, refereeing, judging, and promoting and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

However, Sulaiman will be remembered mostly for his work as the head of the WBC. He joined the organization in 1968 and was elected as its president seven years later.

While he was in charge, the WBC introduced several new rules to help make the sport safer for boxers. One of the most historical was reducing the length of championship bouts from 15 rounds to the current 12 rounds.

This change was done after a 1983 title bout in which South Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim died shortly after his loss at the hands of American Ray Mancini. The bout was sanctioned by rival organization the WBA (World Boxing Association) and televised live across North America.

The WBC, which is recognized in 161 nations across the globe, also moved official weigh-ins for fights from the morning of the bout to 24 hours before the contest. This allows boxers to rehydrate before they step in the ring.

Sulaiman also helped create the World Medical Congress as well as intermediate weight divisions, and attached-thumb boxing gloves. During his reign, more than 1,100 world title bouts were sanctioned by the WBC and approximately 300 different boxers won world championships.

However, Sulaiman did manage to rub some people the wrong way while he was in charge of the WBC. Some boxing insiders felt he treated certain boxers as favorites, especially if they were born in Mexico, like he was.

Still, many messages of condolences were sent from all over the boxing world once the news of his death reached the airwaves and internet. These came from current and former world champion boxers such as Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico, Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico, Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines, and Lennox Lewis of England.

Sulaiman was able to speak seven different languages. This was partly due to being born in the town of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico as the son of a Lebanese father and a Syrian mother. He is survived by his six children and his wife.

After he passed away, the WBC announced on its Twitter account, “We deeply regret to inform the passing away of our dearest president Don Jose Sulaiman, may he rest in peace.”


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