WBC discusses boxing safety
By Mauricio Sulaiman: SAFETY FIRST
The boxing community, family, and friends said the last goodbye to a legendary champion on Sunday in Mexico City. Ultiminio Ramos passed away at the age of 75 due to severe complications from cancer. Ultiminio, known as “Sugar Ramos,” was the first ever champion of the WBC, as he conquered the featherweight title in a tragic fight versus Davey Moore in March of 1963. Born in Cuba, brought to Mexico along with Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, Cuco Conde, and Kid Rapidez, he will be remembered for his charismatic smile, joyful conversation and his passion of music.
Ultiminio was honored by the WBC just a few months ago in an emotional ceremony. He was a warrior of the ring. His era was the one of dramatic 15-round battles, same-day weigh-ins, zero or limited medical checkups, no antidoping tests, six-ounce gloves, the three-rope ring, no medical suspensions or resting periods, and many other facts which are now long gone and forever improved.
All of us involved in boxing have the ultimate responsibility to protect the integrity of our sport, no matter what our role is. Fighters’ safety must be the only priority.
There is an urgent need to once again bring to our attention all the dangers of some specific topics, which must be addressed and attended to. We seem to forget or disregard our role in making sure the well-being of the fighters has no compromise.
THE PRICHARD COLON RULE
Rabbit punches are illegal. We all know it. They have always been illegal. It is the enforcement of zero tolerance that needs to be implemented. It is the mechanics of the referees which need to be reviewed and corrected to make sure they all take this matter into their hands in every single fight. If you don’t think rabbit punches are a big deal, kindly stop reading, make a fist and gently “tap” the back of your own head two or three times, yes gently. Feel a bit dizzy? You can test as long as you wish and hit as hard as you want, you will eventually understand what it feels like to be hit in the back of the head.
Accidental blows can happen when a fighter turns, or the punch simply lands without intention, but there are many instances when the fighters hit their opponent in the back of the head. It happens commonly in clinches, it happens when the occasion presents and the angle is there. It is an illegal blow and it is dangerous.
Prichard Colon is continuing his rehabilitation. I have watched videos in which he is getting better with the prayers of millions, the dedication of his family, the care and concern of his management, and the many doctors and therapists who are dedicated for his recuperation with passion.
It is a dangerous, common practice in boxing. This a topic which we all must take action to prevent from happening. Matchmakers and their promotional companies, managers and booking agents, local commissions licensing their fighters, local commissions monitoring which fights to approve, sanctioning organizations approval for their affiliated titles, press monitoring and reporting, etc.
REPORTING RESULTS AND SUSPENSIONS
All boxing jurisdictions must report results and suspensions. Boxing commissions must respect the suspensions of other jurisdictions. There must be international reciprocity.
I received a beautiful, touching video message from Daniel Franco himself this past weekend. He has is recovering from a boxing injury which had him fighting for his life. Again, the millions of prayers and the dedication of his family and medical care – as well as his heart of a lion and will to live – have him now in the process of rehabilitation. He will never be able to fight again, but he can live and make many others happy with his incredible smile and positive attitude in life.
AIBA, the international entity in charge of Olympic boxing, may continue to attempt to put at risk the fighters’ safety and health, but there is a world movement to prevent them from doing so. They continue to have amateur fights without headgear, but I believe they have adjusted some parameters and hopefully will come back to mandatory use in all competitions. They also continue to have the idea of professional fighters competing in the Olympic Games, threatening the world structure of the sport. So many champions have expressed their opinion of what would happen if, for example, today’s Mikey Garcia fought the 18-year-old Mikey Garcia in the Olympic Games – SO DANGEROUS!
The WBC Amateur program continues to grow and to be of aid to many countries. Our only intention is to provide a platform and generate activity in amateur field. This has created tremendous problems in some countries. For example, in Mexico the amateur national federation threatens to ban any fighter, trainer, or ring official from any international competition organized by AIBA if they participate in any activity supported by WBC Amateur. The same thing happened in Argentina, where the WBC supported the “Superliga” only to find opposition and threats.
I would just respond by asking Mexico and Argentina to evaluate their results in amateur boxing internally, and in international competition if recent years.
If egos, grittiness, and abuse of power were left aside, things would be so simple.