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  Round 12: Fathers In Boxing

By Mauricio Sulaimán – Son of José Sulaimán – President of WBC

We just celebrated Father’s Day all around the world. There are those who are still fortunate enough to enjoy their dads in this life. If so, then it’s time to hug them, kiss them, talk to them and thank them for everything they have done, even though this might have to be “virtual” due to the terrible pandemic the world is suffering. The rest of us will be meditating and talking with our Old Man looking up to the sky, even though he is no longer physically here with us.

Being a parent is the maximum responsibility that the human being can have. It is also the greatest satisfaction and joy. I will never forget the feeling of seeing my three children born. That moment changes your life completely and forever.

Congratulations to all! Although we are in a very singular situation with humanity, we must celebrate big. Life is beautiful and there are so many things to value and appreciate.

Boxing is a sport that currently observes an important activity of the father in the development of their children's boxing careers. It is very common to see dad as the son's/daughter`s coach and in many cases, in the corner.

But this dynamic was not always so much the case. In the 1950s, Moisés Torres, the great national champion, burst on to the scene and he did have his father Renato in his corner. This is one of the particular examples that the great teacher-historian, Víctor Cota, shares with me.

Thanks to the collaboration of Don Majeski from New York, and one of the finest boxing historians, we found some isolated cases from the origins of boxing in England, with the case of Dutch Sam, a boxer who eventually trained his son, Young Dutch Sam, in 1840; Barney Aaron and his son, Young Barney Aaron, in 1850. Back in the United States, there is another case with Emile Pops Coulon, who brought his son, Johnny Coulon, to the world championship in the first decade of the previous century.
In Brazil we find Aristedes Jofre, who trained Éder Jofre, the legendary three-time world champion in the 1970s.

In my opinion, I consider that in the past there was a different organization in the world boxing community. The gyms had a perfect structure, and there came the youngsters, who put themselves in the hands of the coaches, who in many cases, took that paternal image before the fighters.

It was a golden age for boxing coaches around the world, as gyms were highly respected and had a great sense of belonging, with the boxer-coach relationship considered as sacred.

In the 1970s, more fathers began to appear training their children. They were boxers themselves, and in this way, they extended their lives and dreams within the great sport of boxing. Being trainers and managers filled that void which often causes terrible depression to those who retire from the sport.

They found in the gym the way to stay alive in sports and in life in general. There are other cases, from recent history of the 80s and 90s where the father was coach and corner of the fighters. Lenny Mancini with his son, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Floyd Patterson with his son, Tracy Patterson, Anthony Mundine with Tony Mundine, and Pat O’Grady, who was in Sean O’Grady’s corner.

For the World Boxing Council, it has always been a subject of concern and debate. The natural presence of a father for a son and the enormous pressure that such creates, he feels he must do whatever it takes to satisfy the father hopes and expectations, this leading the boxer to sacrifices beyond human limits during a fight.

Fortunately, many things have changed in boxing, and this concern has already been attended by the new dynamics of the referees and the different boxing commissions, as well as their doctors to have the guidelines and take action to stop the fight, when necessary.

In the past, there were fights that had to be stopped by the corner itself, but that didn’t happen which led to tragic incidents, or on the contrary when the protective parents stopped fighting too early.

During this century, many of the champions have had their parents with them since their first steps in boxing, and this has grown into a magnificent father-son relationship. Some examples are: Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, the three Kameda brothers, Wilfredo Vázquez, Chris Eubank, Guty Espadas and many others. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his relationship with his father has been one of the best known.

Today we can see very clear examples of parents with absolute influence in the corner of their children. Vasiliy Lomachenko has his father as the corner boss; the same one who has also crowned other champions such as Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Shawn Porter has a wonderful relationship with his dad, and Danny Garcia with his dad. And a couple of years ago, there was a fight where they both had their fathers in the respective corners, and even though that was the subject of great additional rivalry.

There cannot be a higher satisfaction for a father than seeing his children succeed, the same goes to a son to see the pride and happiness of accomplishing the tasks that make them proud.



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