PANAMA CITY, Panama—At the Directorate Meeting of the 94th WBA Convention at The Westin Playa Bonita in Panama this morning, Gilberto Mendoza, longtime President of the World Boxing Association, announced his retirement due to ongoing health concerns.
The by-laws of the WBA state that there is a prescribed period of time before a new candidate for president can be named. But on hearing the news of Sr. Mendoza’s sudden retirement—he spoke to those present via live video stream from his hospital bed and was as ebullient as ever—there was unanimity among the forty members at the meeting that 2nd Vice President, Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, who has been acting President in his father’s absence, be named new President of the organization.
Intelligent, levelheaded, and without a pompous bone in his body, Gilberto Jesus Mendoza is a man without enemies, perhaps the only man in boxing about whom that can be said.
When the closed-door session of the Directorate Meeting ended, but not before many celebratory handshakes and hugs greeted the new President, he held an impromptu press conference to announce the news.
“First thing I would say, to me it’s a crossroads of sentiment,” said Mendoza. “I am a bit confused being elected as President without the physical presence of my father. You saw him on live video, which is not the same kind of mix, and there’s a certain kind of confusion in my heart. I won’t be a hypocrite and tell you I never dreamed of being WBA President, because it would not be true and you would not believe me. Sometimes I just closed my eyes and thought I would be President someday and follow in the footsteps of my idol, who is my father.
“At some point I thought about the term the media uses, which is nepotism, in certain ways, and thought of stepping back. But at the same time there’s a lot of legacy, there’s a lot of work, and our connection has been so strong that I think I have enough knowledge of what his vision and mission and objectives in boxing were. There is sometimes a connection that cannot be explained. I may have many flaws, but there is one thing that motivates me and that is passion.”
As Mendoza said these words, his emotion was palpable.
“The passion I put into this sport,” he said, “was inherited from my father, of course. But this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to make boxing better. And one of my first messages as President is this: We need to work united. We need unity in this sport. We need to create standards that are somehow uniform. And we can do it. I know we can do it.
“Boxing is maverick. We cannot lie about that. Promoters have their interests; and certain fighters too; and the TV as well. It’s a complicated world where flexibility is key. We don’t need big meetings. We just need to sit down and talk and respect the other’s position.”
“I’m optimistic 100 percent. Boxing has been life from the beginning of human history. I learned from the past that boxing has its ups and downs. But boxing is permanent. It’s an integral part of the human spirit.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.