The World Boxing Association celebrates on March 30 the 80th anniversary of our president emeritus Gilberto Mendoza’s birthday.
Mendoza, a central figure in the history of the WBA, left to posterity an unparalleled work at the head of the organization, to which he gave more than four decades of service in different roles and a normative and moral guide that continue to be a beacon for those who are part of the institution created in 1922.
Gilberto Mendoza was born in Barquisimeto on March 30, 1943. From an early age he dedicated himself to baseball and soccer, but it was boxing that caught him until it became the passion that would later determine his life.
He bequeathed to the WBA several regulatory texts that were revolutionary for the sport at the time, such as the World Rankings Manual, the Procedures Guidelines, the Fight Supervision Handbook and the Half-Point System Guide, the latter as a tool aimed at preventing unfair scores in boxing.
The World Rankings Manual, which was established as an industry standard, was known as the Mendoza Manual.
A graduate of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Mendoza received a degree in industrial engineer, then went on to pursue postgraduate studies in Management and Organizational Development at the University of Toledo; and specialized in Formal Business Planning processes at the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California.
As in all facets of his life, Mendoza, approaches boxing as a leader from its base, in the office, as treasurer of the Aragua State Boxing Commission, in his native Venezuela, invited by his friend Alberto Sarmiento.
The reconnection with his sporting passion, whose enthusiastic practice he had paused due to his academic and work commitments, then continued with the leadership of the Aragua Commission, joining the WBA from there until he was appointed Chairman of the Rankings Committee. In 1982, he was elected president of the organization, inaugurating a dynamic and fruitful period for the WBA that lasted until 2015.
Throughout this period, Mendoza combined his responsibilities in the WBA with his performance in the professional field, also standing out as a union and business leader, politician, philanthropist, and contributing his creative work to organizations such as the Scout Movement of Venezuela; and forging one of his great works, the social action program called KO Drugs, an exercise that integrated sport and education as tools to fight the scourge of drugs and promote positive values in young people. This initiative, which he promoted in the underprivileged areas of the Aragua state, later became a flagship program of the World Boxing Association worldwide.
In short, a fruitful life, of solid human values based on family, of recognized contribution to his society and his time, that today the WBA remembers, celebrates and thanks for the undeniable moral and inspirational legacy for the organization.
A Festival to celebrate a life dedicated to boxing
On the occasion of this anniversary, the WBA promoted and supported the celebration of the VII Gilberto Mendoza Boxing Festival, created in Venezuela in 2016 to honor the memory of the emeritus president.
In line with what was one of the main policies driven by Gilberto Mendoza during all his life dedicated to boxing, the festival focuses all its efforts on the promotion of boxing from an early age, including children and adolescents, offering them all an opportunity for development and learning values through sport.
This is how the KO a las Drogas Festival was born from Mendoza’s mind, with a world-renowned trajectory.
Now, and already consolidated in its objectives, the Gilberto Mendoza Festival has expanded its reach and influence to amateur boxing programs in Turmero, Venezuela, on March 11 at the emblematic and historic Yesterday Recreational Center; Barranquilla, Colombia, on March 24 and 25, for a total of one hundred participants.
The schedule closes on Thursday, March 30 at the Pedro ‘El Rockero’ Alcázar gym in Curundú, Panama, where the Festival expects the participation of another 20 athletes.
It will be the closing of a special month, of heartfelt remembrance to a great leader, but above all, of fair valuation of the human quality of a man who marked the sport and its people in many ways.