Jose Sulaiman: Iconic WBC president dead at 82

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and a legend in the fight game, died earlier today.

He was 82.

Sulaiman, who had been battling health issues for the better part of a year, had a heart operation in October.

Although his situation seemingly improved at first, he subsequently suffered further complications in late December and never recovered.

Among boxing enthusiasts, the WBC is typically considered the most prestigious of boxing's multiple sanctioning bodies due in part to Sulaiman's leadership and vision.

Under his guidance, the WBC instituted many new rules and regulations to expand and enhance boxers' safety and welfare.


Among the changes are the institution of instant replay, reduction of world championship bouts from 15 rounds to 12, the official weigh-in 24 hours prior to each bout, the creation of intermediate weight divisions, the creation of the World Medical Congress, the introduction of the attached thumb glove and the funding of brain injury research programs at UCLA.

The late president told FightSaga in 2011:

"... We want to stop the exploitation of boxers. Agents come and take fighters from gymnasiums to other countries and cities and they receive peanuts.. Many of the boxers are sick, aged [or] not of the same weight. There are so many misuses..."

During Sulaiman's near 40 year tenure at the WBC, the organization has sanctioned over 1,100 title bouts and 300 boxers have won world titles.

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A true international organization, the WBC grew under Sulaiman's guidance to reach over 160 nations.

However, his accomplishments didn't come without a heavy price.

In a 2011 interview with FightSaga, an seemingly distraught Sulaiman asserted that during his (then) 36 years as WBC president, he'd been the victim of tremendous public scrutiny by boxing and sports media outlets who based allegedly based their critical accounts on innuendo and insufficient data.


"[Life] has been a great ride, but I don't understand why some writers, mostly in the United States, continue to attack and humiliate me, publicly."

"It's very hurtful. They don't know me nor do they know everything the WBC does. I don't want my son to go through that. It's my only reservation."

Like him or not, Sulaiman, a 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, should be credited for spawning numerous improvements within the sport.

"Whatever God gives me for my life, I will keep devoting it with my profound love for this sport that is in my blood since I was born. I thank you so much, and I ask God to help you and protect always my champions. Thank you."

Jose Sulaiman
WBC Convention, December 2011


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