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Sulaiman the Magnificent


One of boxing’s most influential and powerful figures is coming to town.

Mauricio Sulaiman, whose late father Jose reigned as World Boxing Council president for over three decades, is gracing the first Pacquiao-Elorde Awards on 24 March at the Okada Manila.

The 54-year-old Sulaiman, who succeeded his father following his death in 2014, is arriving next week as a special guest of eight-division legend Manny Pacquiao.

The Philippines holds a special place in the Sulaiman family and the WBC.

The country was one of the founding nations of the WBC and during the late 1960s until the early-1970s, a Filipino was its president and its secretary general used to be a Filipino, too.

Justiniano Montano Jr., whose father was a prominent Cavite politician, was the WBC president and his secretary general was the late Rodrigo Salud, who crafted the bylaws of the governing body.

When the WBC was formed in 1963, there were just 11 nation that bonded together and one of them was the Philippines.

The others include the United States, Mexico, England, France and Italy and countries from South America and one from Central America.

In 1970, the Philippines hosted the WBC convention.

It took 37 years before the WBC convention would be hosted by Manila and  in 2007, Don Jose Sulaiman was still around.

The WBC remain the most prestigious strap although those being offered by the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation are also considered as legit belts.

Among the most famous WBC champions from the Philippines include Pacquiao, Rolando Navarrete, Erbito Salavarria, Frank Cedeno and Nonito Donaire.

Personally, the WBC holds a special place in my heart because many, many years ago, I traveled to Mexico City and attended the 2000 convention.

Don Jose was still very much alive and when I showed up at the front desk to request for my credentials, the ladies in charge couldn’t find them.

Sensing the futility of the situation, then Games and Amusements Board chairman Dominador Cepeda, looked around and saw Mauricio.

The late Cepeda called Mauricio and asked that the issue be addressed immediately as we were dead-tired from our flight from Manila to Los Angeles and onwards to the Benito Juarez International Airport.

In a snap, Maurico got everything fixed and assured me and Cepeda that the problem had been solved.

It was an unforgettable convention given the presence of the luminaries at the Hotel Intercontinental.

Two years later, I would see Don Jose and Mauricio when it was Tokyo’s turn to host the convention.

We would bump into each other in many fights mostly in the US in the years that followed and the last one was in late-2018 during the first Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder showdown at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

By then, Don Jose was no longer around and it was just Mauricio calling the shots.

We took a picture for posterity and chatted a bit before saying goodbyes to each other.

It’s great hearing that Mauricio is expected here soon.

Thanks to Manny Pacquiao for sending an invite to the WBC chief.

Looking forward to meeting him again.

After all, it’s not often you see a high-ranking and illustrious world boxing figure setting foot on local soil.

Bienvenido, Mauricio!

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