WBA President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza has been keeping busy during the Summer buildup leading toward the Association’s annual convention in Medellin, Colombia in late October. After supervising the WBA Super Featherweight title fight between champion Jezreel Corrales and unheralded Robinson Castellanos in Los Angeles this past Saturday night, Mendoza decided to stick around in L.A. the next day instead of flying back to Panama, City, Panama and the WBA headquarters, giving Fightnews.com a call to fill fans in on the new plans and new direction for the Association.
A native Venezuelan, Mendoza decided to join the Los Angeles referendum voting process regarding the political strife in Venezuela, on Sunday. The referendum was held world wide, and Venezuelans over the age of 18, were eligible to vote both in Venezuela and 69 other countries.
The WBA left it’s Venezuelan headquarters over a decade ago, with then president Gilberto Mendoza, Sr. remaining in the country, while Gilberto Jesus ran operations from the new base in Panama City. “I can’t go back to Venezuela. They’d take my passport. There’s too much unrest there,” said Gilberto Jesus. “But I want my son to one day be able to go back. I don’t get too involved in politics, but this is important.”
Moving on to the plans for the convention, Mendoza was excited, “This convention will function in an entirely new direction. There are a lot of new plans. For example, many of the functions will take place outside of the hotel. We will be conducting meetings at university lecture halls in the city of Medellin. We are going to create a boxing academy.” Mendoza continued, “We recently signed a deal with AIPS (Association of International Sports Journalists) which will focus on really teaching journalists about boxing in a transparent way. It is an important sport the world over and unity is the key- working hand in hand with the best young journalists to lift both the sport of boxing and the level of journalism.”
Mendoza went on to discuss why Medellin was chosen as the site for their 96th convention, when it was the host city for the 2009 gathering as well. “Medellin is a city with so much cultural growth. People outside the country have the conception of Medellin being full of crime, thinking about Pablo Escobar for example. That’s understandable. But there is more going on there now. The city is going in a new direction under this new generation. There is so much culture, it needs to be recognized and we want to give back. You know boxing is a sport of struggle. But people struggle in everyday life as well. The WBA wants to support struggles around the world, working together for a common cause. Again- UNITY.
A musical tribute to Colombian boxing legends Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes and Miguel “Happy” Lora will be presented by Latin Grammy winning Colombian artist Fonseca during the convention, to be held October 30-November 2nd.