“We can do it, let’s do it, let’s do it together”

by
“We can do it, let’s do it, let’s do it together”
"We can do it, let's do it, let's do it together"

“We can do it, let’s do it, let’s do it together”

by
“We can do it, let’s do it, let’s do it together”
"We can do it, let's do it, let's do it together"

“We can do it, let’s do it, let’s do it together”. This slogan, created, fostered and popularized by Gilberto Mendoza Sr., President Emeritus of the World Boxing Association, has served as a compass, in recent difficult years, to guide the ship -as he called it- which is our organization. We bring it up, on the occasion of his passing away 6 years ago on March 11, in this simple tribute to the memory and legacy of the man who was the maximum leader of the organization for 33 years, a long period in which he carried out a tenacious and successful management that has been an essential factor for the progress achieved by the dean organization and by boxing itself, on a universal scale, in the present days:

This article has a different in title and some additions and deletions of the one published in the Venezuelan sports newspaper Líder when Gilberto Mendoza Sr. (Barquisimeto, Lara, Venezuela, March 30, 1943–Caracas, DC Venezuela, March 11, 2016) on the occasion of the 6th mournful anniversary of his death, although he still remains in the memory of his friends, such as high-level leaders, officials, judges, referees, assistants, trainers and, especially, of the boxers who were close to him and to whom he always extended a protective hand, of help, of friendship, of solidarity. 

It is also worth repeating and remembering again that in honor of the late leader, during his wake on that sad March 11, 2016, the American Gary Shaw, former boxing promoter and current Chief of Staff of the WBA and advisor to President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, pronounced the brief, laudatory and beautiful words that follow: “Gilberto was like a ray of sunshine. And when you are a ray of sunshine you can keep a big shadow, which many of us walk by…That ray of sunshine went away a little bit, but that light will come out again. He was a man whose word was worth more than his signature or a handshake.”

His vast contributions to the WBA

In this incomplete semblance of Gilberto Mendoza, it is worth mentioning that one of his first contributions in favor of the entity he presided from October 1982 to December 2015 was the Ratings Manual, still in force, developed in his early days, while he was in the Executive Committee.

After this and with the decisive support of the then WBA president, the Panamanian Rodrigo Sanchez, the young Venezuelan leader had risen to the top position in a close and disputed over the American Bobby Lee, 41 votes to 32, at the Convention held in San Juan de Puerto Rico in October 1982, Mendoza won the victory thanks to a resounding majority.

In addition to his initial contribution, he launched the “KO Drugs” campaign, now celebrated around the world, and organized seminars for judges and referees to improve their evaluations of championship fights; created regional organizations such as the North American Boxing Association (NABA), the Latin American Boxing Federation (Fedelatin), the Caribbean Boxing Federation (Fedecaribe), the Central American Boxing Federation (Fedecentro) and the Bolivarian Boxing Federation (Fedebol), the Pan-African Boxing Association (PAFBA) and the European Boxing Association, among others. He also introduced the super champion designation for fighters with 5 and 10 successful defenses, among many other important programs.

Two capital episodes

It is also worth mentioning two important historical episodes. The first took place at the Annual Convention in Reno, Nevada, in October 1986. There, a very difficult situation was dealt with, such as the analysis of the expulsion of South Africa for its segregationist policy of Apartheid, repudiated in international sports in December 1985 by the UN. It was a very hard and dramatic situation faced by Mendoza. The African nation was then one of the most active countries in the world. Mendoza handled the complex situation with singular skill without his departure from the country producing what appeared to be a crisis for the organization. A few years later, in 1991, with Apartheid outlawed and Nelson Mandela in power, South Africa was readmitted to the concert of global sports, economics and politics.

A second conflictive issue occurred at the 1988 Convention on the Venezuelan island of Nueva Esparta, where a small group of leaders opposed to Mendoza, led by the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico -they objected to some statutory rules and the boxer rating system- tried to displace the Venezuelan. Again, Gilberto Mendoza showed the wood of what he was made of: his opponents were defeated and then they set up a separate tent.

Mendoza left office voluntarily in 2015, afflicted by an illness he could not overcome. He was replaced by his son, Gilberto Jesús Mendoza, elected by acclamation by the delegates of the Convention in Panama and who will be at the helm of the ship, as his father used to say, at least until 2025.

Back to Gilberto, our always present President Emeritus. We must remember at this moment the slogan that he popularized and that has been the north for the dean of the ecumenical boxing organizations, such as the WBA.

To conclude this very shallow semblance-homage to Gilberto Mendoza, let’s mention other words that are not ours either and that were borrowed from the Spanish bard Antonio Machado: “Traveler, your footprints are the path, and nothing else. Traveler, there is no path, but wakes on the sea…”

He, Gilberto Mendoza senior, always took good, straight, and luminous steps in the pursuit of excellence, a goal fully achieved. As a human being and as a man of boxing and of sports in general…


Lejarraga-Metcalf in Bilbao for the WBA Continental belt



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