Round 12: A Heavenly Memory
Of A Great And Unforgettable Man
By Mauricio Sulaimán / WBC President – Son of José Sulaimán
I write this column thinking about everything my dad meant
to me in my life. Just a few days ago we would have been
celebrating his 89th birthday.
I received countless messages from so many dear friends from
different countries throughout the world about our Don José.
It is something that cannot be adequately described in
words. More than six years after his death, he is still
remembered. For this reason, I consider it more than
appropriate to dedicate my column to him.
DESTINY – My dad always told us how destiny guided the steps
of his life. My grandfather, Don Elías, embarked in a wrong
ship in Lebanon when he began his journey to America and
instead of arriving in Boston, he made it to the port of
Veracruz in Mexico.
On his mother’s side, they left Syria, my grandmother, Doña
Wasila, who was in the womb of our great-grandmother. They
had to be quarantined in Italy; the ship sailed without them
and it sank on the way to the United States.
My father, living in Victoria, Mexico, married with three
kids and Fernando already on the way, found extreme
difficulties when family medical emergencies, and a very
unfortunate betrayal from a dear uncle, left my father in a
very complicated economic crisis.
Fate once again played a hand. His brother, my uncle Héctor,
known to everyone as Toy, worked at Mancera, Ernst & Young,
a prestigious firm of administrative auditors. He received
correspondence on his desk that was for someone else, it was
a request from an American company, Graphic Controls, to
find a general manager to establish operations in Mexico.
Uncle Toy forwarded such application to my father to be
considered as a candidate, and eventually he was hired.
Thus, the enterprise was established that is still thriving
today – our factory and family business: Controles Graficos
This is how my parents came to Mexico City. They settled in
the Lindavista neighborhood. This happened in 1963. Once
again fate was present, because in those days the WBC was
created, and my father, being passionate about sport, joined
as a member.
One day, close to home, my brother Pepe discovered baseball
fields in the Miguel Alemán Park.
A man invited him to play and a curveball closed his eye.
Upon arriving home, the surprise was to see him proud,
regardless of the blow he had received. That weekend my dad
took everyone to the league, where he immediately enrolled
Pepe, Héctor and Fernando.
From that day on, the life of the Sulaimán family revolved
around baseball, The King of Sports.
Don José became president of the League, my mom managed the
dining cafeteria. The great memories of our childhood are
always associated with baseball and today, the great and
numerous majority of our friends are those we met on the
field. The bond of friendship with all the players of the
famous “Vagabundos” is so much more than special.
My dad was a great baseball player. He was nicknamed Bob
Feller Huasteco. While Don José studied in Boston during his
youth, he went to try out for the professional team, the
Boston Braves, and was drafted to play in the Major Leagues!
But fate interfered again. A week before season opening he
broke his tibia. It was fractured, so he had to return to
After actively participating in various positions at the
WBC: legal adviser, ranking committee, regulations and more,
he decided it was time to resign due to various disputes
which were fracturing the spirit of the organization, it was
no longer fun to be involved in The WBC, the thrive for
power was enormous .
My dad traveled to Tunisia for the annual Convention, and
there he intended to present his resignation for his
position as Secretary General. My mom accompanied him and
that was going to be their farewell to boxing, so as to
dedicate himself fully to his business.
But fate held one more monumental surprise in store. Colonel
Hasim Hamouda, vice president of the WBC, saw Don Jose’s
obvious and natural leadership qualities at that Convention
and after a speech, nominated him for president. All,
without exception, elected him by acclamation. It was
Don José was tireless. His desire to always to do better, in
order to be the best, led him to live an unremittingly
The memory of my childhood is to see him always sitting in
the dining room working, then going on trips for weeks or
months, and returning, but never stopping. He was CEO and
partner of the factory, president of the WBC, President of
the Lindavista baseball league. He studied different
correspondence courses – especially photography – and was
always present to attend absolutely everything related to
our family: my mother and us six children.
For Jose Sulaiman, the word “impossible” never existed. He
dedicated himself to boxing and, above all, to boxers. This
is was what distinguished and characterized his life. The
Don Jose was tireless in looking for ways to make this sport
more humane, safer and fairer. He fought a thousand battles.
He faced, battled and overcame vested interests and
stubbornly senseless resistance to change.
He told us how he was booed around the stadium when the
first 12-round fight was announced in Las Vegas. Yet … all
of these ideas have saved countless lives and have given
dignity, as well as security plus well-being, to the
A wonderful man, humble, simple, passionate, fair, loving,
kind, loyal, patient and at the selfsame time, totally in
love with Mexico. These are adjectives, concepts and
principles that define my dear father; my idol and my hero.
I miss him day after day, each and every day, but I feel him
within every fiber of myself at every moment.
Don Jose’s favorite phrase was: “He who does not live to
serve does not serve to live.”