The oldest organization in the leadership of the boxing world had its most important change, the President with more time in office, a leader who left a priceless legacy gave us decentralization, modernization, justice and respect toward the boxers in each one of his decisions. Without doubt, it would be unfair to fail to mention his social sensitivity and his tireless work toward this end via the global “KO to Drugs” campaign starting in 1989.
However, the entire process, though emotional and controversial, will have a contribution for the benefit of the organization. In particular for a team where the cohesion, loyalty, empathy and their willingness to face the challenges manages to bring all the virtues of each individual that forms part of the great family of the WBA.
In boxing terms. 2016 wasn’t much different from the others. An Olympic year, which sometimes is reflected in the activity, but this time there was a peculiar added characteristic: a lowered barrier to entry allowing the participation of professional boxers. Of course, there were no shortage of extreme medical opinions, media opinions, and the temptation of great champions and also a revolt of colleagues in other international organizations.
The WBA maintained the position to mediate, listen and seek a joint effort for the sake of the boxing world. I faithfully believe that in a niche sport so anarchic as boxing, a union is essential. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the openness of dialogue of the President of the AIBA, the always friendly Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.
The heavyweight division was a reflection of an aspect that brought consciousness to the anti-doping politics of the game. It’s increasingly clear, the intense desire to win leads some athletes to consume prohibited substances to reach a competitive advantage at the time of combat. In spite of the existence of increasingly greater controls around the world, it’s necessary to implement preventive education for the boxer from his base.
Conflict of interests often spoil the basic function of the WBA. The abuse of local jurisdictions in internal issues without compromising the recognition of the rights of everyone falls on people who don’t have our same passion. Many times the regular justice system dictates unpopular measures that affect the prestige of the activity. Our legal framework is comprehensive, just and contains the resources to defend the positions of each member of our organization.
Regional activity, especially in Europe, highlighted by not only the number of titles fought for on the Continent, also showed the importance of the progressive development of the regions, since it managed to fulfill one more goal: to generate alternative markets, specific case the United Kingdom, which thanks to the alliance with the promotional company Matchroom, demonstrated that WBA boxing vibrates in the blood of the fans of this country.
On that same subject, but in the Asian region, although one of our subsidiaries opted for voluntary disenrollment, WBA OCEANIA and WBA CHINA continued to carry WBA boxing all over the world. In the coming months we’ll be announcing a new regional entity to govern this vital continent.
The policy towards a single champion remains firm and present, to the point that at the time of my words the rankings show 8 of 17 weight categories with a single champion. The road is not easy, once more, commercial interests always have an effect. So not in an instant, but in the long term, fans will have a reduction in WBA championships.
As for world title fights, all our champions stood out, in so many fights they left sweat, courage, and blood, but in order of quality and competitiveness: double WBA champion Andre Ward, undisputed Gennady Golovkin, skillful Keith Thurman, triple champion Jorge Linares, new star Jezreel Corrales, the iron will of Carl Frampton, without leaving out small samurai Kazuto Ioka.
A policy to emphasize in our organization is the incorporation of women leaders in our Directory: Shivana Inalsingh, Mariana Borissova and former world champion from Peru Kina Malpartida are valued and motivational examples.
So I would like to emphasize the value of women in the WBA, especially our great welterweight champion Cecilia Braehkus, who with her fists opened the doors for boxing in Norway, a country that banned the sport. On the other hand, we got an important Guinness record at the Battle of Champions held in Venezuela, thanks to the support of Jupiter Boxing, as the first card with the highest number of female world title fights, including an all female technical staff, and the participation of our beloved: Yesica “Tuti” Bopp, Hanna Gabriel, Ogleidis Suarez, now all mothers, and added to them was Mayerlin Rivas, who all sealed their name and the WBA in the records of history.
For many friends, brothers and comrades, it was an end to this earthly stage. I can’t mention them all, but all are in my heart. It was a year starting not only with my father, but also the leader of peace, example of dignity and a universal boxing icon Muhammad Ali. Add to the list, Carlos “Morocho” Hernandez, the “Hawk” Aaron Pryor, a great friend WBC treasurer Juan Sanchez, and the loyal WBO rankings chairman Luis Perez, among the many who contributed to our sport.
In general, it was another chapter in history, highlighted by good boxing, and the passion of the leaders and great fighters. However, my message in this period in which we are all filled with the most beautiful energy in the world, love, is to call everyone to unite to make our sport a way to make it better for people every day by providing social opportunities the world sometimes seems to deny.
With deep appreciation, fondness and satisfaction for those who are a part of my life, I wish a happy year 2017 to you and your loved ones.