World Boxing Council News
April 7, 2010 - Mexico City
From the office of WBC President Jose Sulaiman
The following is one the the "Hook to the Liver" columns by WBC President Jose Sulaiman that are published in El Universal every Sunday. From April 4, translated from Spanish:
Hook to the Liver - by Jose Sulaiman
ERIK AND THE COMBEACK OF RETIRED BOXERS
The comeback of Erik Morales brought to my mind many other cases in the past, and with it, the question we all ask ourselves when a boxer says goodbye to his sport, sometimes still as champion and others after they have stopped being champions. Why do they go? Why, after several years in retirement, do they come back to the rings?
Is it money, the bright lights for the arena, the publicity that is lost, the idolatry that is cooled, oblivion, loneliness? Or ... what is it?
I recall just five boxers that, after retiring from the rings, never came back: Raul "Raton" Macias, Marvin Hagler, Lennox Lewis, "Mantequilla" Napoles and Mike Tyson. Perhaps there are others.
After several years of retirement, "Raton" called me; I was living in Ciudad Victoria, and he asked for my opinion regarding an important offer that George Parnassus, of Greece, and great promoter of Mexican boxing, was making for him to come back to the rings. My answer was that being so young, as he retired at 24, he could come back if he needed the money, but, if that was not the case, he had better keep his retirement, as his story had already been written and he was a national idol. When "Raton" passed away, the Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe was not enough to host the people that filled it up beyond its capacity to say goodbye to an idol that gave so much pride to his homeland.
Marvin, Lennox and Tyson, who never fought again although he never officially announced his retirement, were extraordinary champions, considered to be among the greatest in history. They live very well, and they never came back to the rings, whereas my compadre "Mantequilla" Napoles lives ill and in a lot of sorrow, but with an untouchable dignity.
There are other cases that are very regrettable, like the one of Ruben "Puas" Olivares, who is seen by many as the greatest Bantamweight fighter ever. However, he came back several times to the knocked out by humble fighters in the end. In the good times of Olivares, such a fighter would not have even had the merit to carry Ruben's training bag, and talking about the same situation, Vicente Saldivar, King of the featherweight fighter when there were only the WBA and WBC titles, came back twice, to be knocked out by Yoshiaki Numata, of Japan, and by Brazilian idol Eder Jofre, in Brazil.
Another case that is truly sad is the one of Julio Cesar Chavez, who never listened to my constant requests of retirement. Even after having organized his triumphant farewell at Plaza Mexico, he accepted offers made by promoters which took him to the most pitiful and saddest failure, against boxers that in his good times would not have even lasted a single round.
Carlos Zarate himself, who came back with great dignity, but his condition had diminished a lot; he had nothing to keep the greatness he had as a Bantamweight world champion. I also remember Marco Antonio Barrera, who was seriously hurt in his last two bouts.
The great Joe Louis - "The Brown Bomber", and the greatest - Muhammad Ali, both came break from retirement just to lose and be seriously hurt. Beau Jack, former shoeshine boy, and after having become a champion, he died in absolute poverty. How can we forget "Sugar" Ray Robinson, labeled together with Ali as the two greatest fighters of all time, as he came back to lose in the most modest levels of boxing.
Another "Sugar", Ray Leonard, another one of the greatest in boxing, and in my opinion one of the boxers with the highest level ever came back to find defeat, but he now lives with splendid affluence and keeps his whole intelligence. The same thing happens to unforgettable Larry Holmes, who, even after being knocked out by Mike Tyson, on many, many fights and lives wealthy and happy. Jim Jeffries, the once immense heavyweight idol, came back just to be knocked out by Jack Johnson, who also performed his last fights in Mexico, on the Northern border, where he lived before returning to the U.S., where he was imprisoned because he had a white girlfriend. I could go on with many more cases that are very sad, as some boxers decided to come back to put a stain on a record that, otherwise, would have been kept intact for centuries.
My problem, which is strangely very nice and very terrible at the same time, is to have met and had a good friendship with most of them, whom I held in the highest esteem, I respected and even deeply idolized them. But I was also overwhelmed by deep sorrow when I knew about their misfortune, the consequence of bad decisions. All of them will remain in my heart forever, as the foundations of the greatness of a sport of brave athletes, which now slides being moved by created interests, favoritism, discrimination, and abuse of power and money.
Erik Morales is young and strong; he has unshakeable determination and thirst for triumph. He has devoted himself like nobody to losing 25 kilograms (he should give me the recipe) and coming back to boxing, certainly as an attempt to win a fourth world title, as I do not know he has another reason. I saw he is rusty and a little slow, an obvious after-effect of his long retirement and the extreme weight loss. However, he displayed his great expertise. he is strong as always; extremely intelligent and smart.
We all have moments of happiness and sadness in life, moments of laughter and tears, moment of grief and joy, moments of having and not having. Money, power and fame are very difficult to obtain for those of us who are common citizens and we do not have them as boxers do. Nevertheless, when they are obtained, they open many doors - basically the ones to happiness and peace. And they even become aphrodisiacs. I would conclude by saying that those three elements - money, power and fame - are the most important reasons for those great boxers who have already retired to make an attempt to win again and regain them once again. There is nothing else.
HALL OF FAME FLAGS AT HALF-STAFF FOR REFEREE ARTHUR MERCANTE
Canastota, NY - April 10, 2010
The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced its flags will fly at half-staff in memory of legendary referee Arthur Mercante. He passed away at his home this morning. He was 90.
The dean of boxing referees world-wide, Mercante began his career while serving in the U.S. Navy under Gene Tunney in 1942. Among his responsibilities was refereeing service bouts and he continued officiating amateur bouts upon his discharge from the Navy. In 1954 he became licensed as a professional referee. His first world title bout was the rematch between Ingemar Johansson vs Floyd Patterson on June 20, 1960. Mercante may be best remembered for being the third man in the ring for the "fight of the century" between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on Marh 8, 1971. Other notable matches he handled include Frazier vs Foreman I and Ali vs Norton III. Mercante, who retired in 2001, refereed 145 world title fights. He also boxed in the 1938 New York Golden Gloves and attended New York University, where he was a member of the varsity football and swimming teams.
"Without a doubt, Arthur Mercante was one of boxing's best referees," said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. "He was a completely professional inside the ring and true class act outside the ring. We will miss our friend and mourn his passing."
In 1995, Mercante was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.