Mexico City—Iconic boxing promoter Don King and late World Boxing Council (WBC) president José Sulaimán Chagnón were inseparable in the sport for more than three decades, so it was only appropriate that King would be here to honor his friend at the grand opening of the Jose Sulaiman Chagnon gymnasium installed the Otomi Ceremonial Center on Monday Feb.9.
“To see them pay homage to him in a new building that carries his spirit into immortality is just a heart felt thanks. It’s a magnanimous situation for me and I’m delighted that they are remembering him because he contributed so much to the sport, but more importantly to the people and what the people stand for. He was a true Mexican and he was a guy that I could rely and he could rely on me, it was reciprocal in the two of us in that were like a tree planted by the river and we weren’t going to be moved,” said King.
Jose Sulaimán, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was president of the WBC for almost forty years before he died in 2014 at the age of 82.
He served as president of boxing’s most respected governing body in the sport and is widely credited with greatly expanding the WBC's global reach to now include 161 affiliated nations.
His son Mauricio Sulaiman never prepared for the day his father would die and although he succeeded his father as WBC president, it was never the plan.
“It’s a surprise that they named the gymnasium after my father,” said an emotional
Mauricio Sulaiman. “The state has put this together to bring these opportunities to athletes. This is a very special place to train because of its high altitude. Julio Cesar Chavez use to train here with so many other great champions. This is a new building with state of the art technology and I’m just so very-very emotional to see the name of my father here.”
Jose Sulaiman was a former amateur boxer, who worked as a trainer, promoter, referee and judge was considered the global leader in the sport of boxing.
He fondly respected and cared for fighters well being before, during and after their championships and careers were over.
His son stated the new center would have meant everything to his father. “It would have mean everything to him because he loved boxing and he loved the sports, especially the athletes. There are so many athletes that are left on the road because of not having opportunities to become the best.”
The new state of the art training center, which will bare José Sulaimán Chagnón, is yet another lasting testament to his enduring legacy. The gym sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level and provides housing, state of the art equipment, a ring, and two hot tubs.”
“This day is not a separate day, it’s like everyday, yesterday, today and tomorrow is our theme and José Sulaimán is one of the dearest friends that I ever had in life and he’s also one of the dearest friends that I have in death because his spirit is alive,” explained King.
Mauricio says that his father’s relationship with King was more than brothers.
“They were the closest they could be. They use to fight every single day, but the truth is together they paved the way for what boxing is today. The greatest promotions and greatest champions fought in their era. Their relationship was always criticized because of the envy.” He added that King has always been like a second father to him, “I love him very much. I’ve known him since I was very little and I admire him.”
Mexican governor Eruviel Ávila arrived at the site by helicopter to honor one of greatest men of his country.
In addition to King and Mauricio; Alfredo Castillo, director general of the Conade, and legendary great Julio Cesar Chavez, former champions Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik "Terrible" Morales, Guadalupe Pintor and the Ghost, president of the Commission for Controlling Mexico City were on hand.
Current WBC world champions Carlos Boxes, Francisco "Bandido" Vargas, Ibeth "La Roca" Zamora and Jessica Chavez also attended the ceremony.
“The State of Mexico is honored that the Sulaiman family has agreed to naming the facility, after a great Mexican, a very generous man who promoted humanism and was always honored their champions,” said Mexican governor Eruviel Ávila.