By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
This past weekend I experienced a wonderful moment, which inspired me in the creation of this column, namely the kind and caring heart which is strongly beating within the vast majority of boxers in this world.
I went to play baseball with my son in the park and there were many children playing soccer and riding bikes. We had a chat with some of them and we ended up talking about boxing. One immediate question was: “Do you know Canelo?”; I even had to show them a photo, because they didn’t believe that I know him .
I proposed to send a message of greetings to the great champion, so everyone jumped with joy and enthusiasm. We recorded a video, which I sent to Saúl on WhatsApp. I immediately received the return message from him to the kids, who were joyfully screaming, leaping and abounding with abiding excitement.
That simple act, of our beloved champion, will be remembered by those children for the rest of their lives, and they will talk about it with their friends and their children umpteen times.
Mike Tyson was in Mexico on several occasions and I had the opportunity to spend memorable times with him. During his first visit, when he was reigning world champion and recognized worldwide and known as the strongest and baddest man on earth, something happened that was absolutely wonderful.
We were having dinner at the Pérgola restaurant in the Zona Rosa. Miguel (that’s how I’ve always called Mike) told me: “Mauricio, I’m tired of being with Don King and your dad; I’m bored with being with our elders, can we go out somewhere? ” As we walked back to the hotel and on the way there were twenty humble kids, who joyously greeted him. Mike was so happy, and wanted to practically as well as memorably help them, so without further do, he went into a store and bought every kid tennis shoes!
Something similar happened in Culiacán, when we went to a fight of our Great Mexican Champion, Julio César Chávez. Mike bought tennis shoes for a group of 15 children and demanded that the organizers of the show to allow the youngsters to see the Chávez fight, and So they did! There was Mike, in the front row, with 15 thrilled kids sitting next to him.
Muhammad Ali was a unique and truly extraordinary man. He transformed the hearts and minds of generations, from the entrenched narrow minded, mean and spiteful views, which had prevailed as he was growing up. When he saw a child, he adopted a paternalistic attitude, which was so naturally him. With our own eyes we saw all this on countless occasions and with no camera in sight. These were acts of instinctive humanity and fundamental decency that came from the very fiber of his being.
On one occasion Ali was with my dad in the living room of our house; My sister Lucy arrived with her one-year-old son, my nephew Pepe Toño, who was my parents’ first grandson. Don José got so excited when he heard that they had arrived and ran outside leaving the champion there just sitting all alone.
Suddenly, Ali was alongside my dad, and he asked him to carry the precious child. This time, the pure magic of that moment in life and time, was forever captured with a photograph. Its natural poignant beauty needs no words. A picture like that is worth even more than a thousand words!
Returning to Canelo, I have witnessed countless humanitarian acts that he as a caring person has privately carried out, no fanfare, no cameras or headlines or plaudits. Many years ago we received a request from a foundation in which a little boy with cancer, and with very little chance of survival, had the dream of meeting him.
In the following week, Saúl traveled to Querétaro solely and exclusively to greet and hug him, without cameras, without press, solely to realize, fulfill and give joyful, tangible meaning to his avid and devoted fan.
Every time we seek him out for humanitarian action, he is there to put his hand up, stand up to be counted and help change the lives of others. That’s what really counts.
We have all witnessed the recent campaign in which he is sought, through the networks, with requests for help of all kinds, and the many cases in which he has shown his concern and generosity towards.
Likewise, the visits of our WBC Cares program are always magical, as boxers go to hospitals, orphanages, gyms and schools, to give of themselves fostering unforgettable moments to those who greet them with open arms and open hearts.
This is especially the case in hospitals. They encourage, inspire and bolster sick children and their families, who suffer so greviously, so hard and so long, but at the self same time showing such immense uncomplaining courage. It proves so humbling for us.
Our champions are just great… they play, laugh and even cry with the children. They deliver toys, autographs and photographs: Pipino Cuevas, Chiquita González, La Roca Zamora, Zulina Muñoz, Carlos Zárate, Irma García and so many more, even don fancy dress. Pipino and La Chiquita in clown costumes and diminutive La Roca is Mini mouse …
Thank you champions for being the example of humanity, humility and down to earth goodness, in sharing the marvelous intrepid spirit, which helped to make you great. And for always being there for those who so desperately need it! Hope bolstering faith through the radiance of kind hearts.
DID YOU KNOW…?
Independence Day was celebrated in the United States yesterday. On July 4, 1910, Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight world champion, defeated by knockout in 15 rounds the previously undefeated former champion Jim Jeffries, who was “ the great white hope,” who tried in vain to regain the championship. This fight was scheduled for 45 rounds of three minutes!
Like so many boxers, my dad was an extremely caring person; he was a very loving father, but as a grandfather he even further excelled himself.
On one occasion he was engrossed in a fractious discussion on the phone with Don King, and even raised decibels were heard as they were shouting at each other, which so rarely happened with my dad; Suddenly Chepi, another of the grandchildren, entered the study where the grandfather was and Don José, in a very nice altered way, began to speak to Don King with the same voice as he spoke to his grandchildren, all affectionate and playful. When he realized, what was happening because we were all laughing, my father started laughing long along with Don. There and then it all dissolved into reason and moderation and they ended up the call with their usual friendship and respect.