WBC president Jose Sulaiman, "gave my brothers and my family the greatest legacy," said his son, Mauricio Sulaiman, even while acknowledging his father "made a few mistakes along the way" during his four decades of power in the sport of boxing.
Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC's Secretary General, spoke to RingTV.com on Friday about his father, who died on Thursday at the age of 82 at the UCLA Medical Center following complications from heart surgery on Oct. 1.
Jose Sulaiman will be cremated on Sunday, according to his son, and remembered on Monday at The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mexico City.
"We are going to have two days of national morning, starting today, Friday, and also tomorrow," said Maurico. "And on Sunday, we will do the cremation. Monday, we'll do a mass at The Virgin of Guadalupe, with everything being in Mexico City."
On Oct. 25, nearly a month after having undergone double bypass surgery, Mauricio Sulaiman reported to RingTV.com that his father was was “in great spirits,” albeit “in lots of pain,” following the operation.
"My father was very sick in October, and then, God gave him strength and he fought very well through November and December," said Maurico Sulaiman. "So we have realized that that it was a miracle for him not to succumb and to be awake for our many visits."
A 2007 Hall of Fame inductee whom the WBC called the "father of boxing," Jose Sulaiman is survived by his wife of 55 years, Martha, six children and 14 grandchildren, according to Mauricio.
"My father gave my brothers and my family the greatest legacy," said Mauricio. "He was an example because we were taught, through his fight, how to overcome any obstacle."
Known as an advocate for safety in boxing, Sulaiman successfully pushed for the reduction of title fights from 15 to 12 rounds, the switch of weigh-ins from the morning of the fights to the day before, and for gloves whose thumbs were attached to lessen the risk of fighters being "thumbed" in their eyes during contests.
But Sulaiman was also known for his controversial side, which included the bending of his own rules, the notion that his Mexico-based organization favored fighters from his own country, and for his close relationship with promoter Don King, who called Sulaiman "one of my greatest friends in life" during a Thursday interview with RingTV.com.
TV analyst Larry Merchant noted Sulaiman's role in trying to reverse Buster Douglas' upset of King-promoted Mike Tyson "as an example of how he functioned," adding, "he's the only boxing official I ever heard of who tried to overturn a knockout because the wrong guy won the fight."
"To his critics, I would say that thank you for pointing out the things that they believe were wrong," said Mauricio Sulaiman. "My father always took positive information in. My father made some mistakes along the way, not many, but he did make a few mistakes that were in good faith, but never in bad faith.
"So that is what I would have as a conclusion. For the good critics, that's all for the better, and for the bad critics, they would say whatever they wanted to because they must have a reason or a belief that he respected, because he respected everybody."
Jose Sulaiman will be honored by the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which has announced that its flags will fly at half-staff in his memory.
"Jose Sulaiman spent his life in the sport and, as president of the WBC, implemented rules to improve boxer safety," said Edward Brophy, executive director of The Hall of Fame. "The Hall of Fame joins the worldwide boxing community in mourning his passing, and offer our condolences to his family."
Photo by Javiel Centeno