They say leaders are born and not made, one thing that is clear in modern day sport is they are certainly not created via tertiary education.
It would appear that the World Boxing Council has a leader at the head of it who wants to restore the noble art to former glories, and the moves he is advocating could well be just what boxing needs.
Mauricio Sulaiman was elected in 2014 to succeed his father who had been President for 39 years. His father had made some radical changes to the sport during his time at the helm, such as moving weigh-ins to 24 hours before a bout rather than the same day, also reducing the number of rounds from 15 to 12 in Championship fights, as well as the introduction of the thumb glove to prevent boxers receiving a thumb in the eye and causing permanent damage. He also started the World Medical Congress and funding for brain injury research programs.
He would no doubt be proud of the way his son has hit the ground running and some of the changes that are afoot.
The first will thrill fight fans. Having instigated meetings with the other Boxing Boards of control it has been agreed in principle that there should be a “Tournament of Champions” for each weight division. This would see the winners of the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF World Titles squaring off and the winner being the only one who can rightfully call himself a World Champion. At present all of the various bodies are working through the legalities of such a move, but it is one that is sure to please boxing fans.
Boxing has far too often been criticized for its judging of fights and there have been far too many controversies related to this issue. Sulaiman is advocating that in the future all officials are rated and if they do not come up to scratch then they pay the ultimate price, just as a fighter would if he made a mistake in the ring.
“There are things that can be done to prevent (bad officiating). Ring officials should be appointed to a specific fight in Championship fights, we call for neutral nationalities, to have officials from neutral countries not belonging to either boxer. That’s a natural way of being as fair as possible.” Sulaiman said. “Concentration is a key. If one has personal problems he’s not going to be able to concentrate. It is just a matter of being in close contact with your officials and having the possibility of working with the local boxing commissions to appoint the best officials to a given fight.”
Sulaiman also wants to prevent mismatched fights. The WBC have worked closely with Boxrec.com one of the sport’s only fight-record only websites. The aim of this is to protect the health of the fighters but also to ensure that fans are given action packed quality fights, rather than one-sided no-contest affairs.
The WBC will not sanction mismatches fights. All fighters are ranked at a certain level and from now on they will only agree to a fighter moving up to fight a boxer ranked one level above them or one level below them.
In addition to these positive changes the WBC has increased its monitoring of the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs, with year round random drug testing.
Mauricio Sulaiman has not even been at the helm a year, but already he is trying to improve the way the sport is perceived and run. It promises to be an interesting journey, but for fight fans its good news as the sport desperately needed to implement changes that restored respectability and credibility.