On Saturday, February 27th World Boxing Council Super Middleweight Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico, will be defending his Green and Gold Belt against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim of Turkey. This fight coincides with the mission of Pope Francisco, whose historic trip to Iraq on March 5th will be the first ever by a Pontiff. The Canelo/Yildirim event will celebrate the World Boxing Council`s commitment to BoxVal, an integral part of the Scholas Occurentes, a non-religious foundation of His Holiness, which encourages and promotes World Peace, especially amongst young people.
Scholas has designated the Canelo vs Yildirim “Fight for Peace “ as a tribute to inclusion and a continuous efforts to build bridges and promote peace in the world. BoxVal (Boxing with Values) is the boxing program under Scholas which reaches all corners of the world through our sport and is administered by The WBC.
This significant and heartfelt handshake of meaningful friendship prior to the fight, symbolized with white boxing gloves, is specifically designed to show the World, the genuine solidarity and unity of Boxing. Just because Canelo and Avni are rivals in the ring, it doesn`t diminish their mutual respect and regard for each other.
In the true spirit of sportsmanship, while Avni is a devout Muslim, Canelo is an observant Christian. Both men, who have previously trained together, are proud to represent their communities and countries. And as the WBC tradition of brotherhood, both boxers are proud to be members of BoxVal, symbolically planting Olive trees, as an Olive branch is brought to us and offered by a dove rather than a hawk.
The solidarity of this unity, was previously and prominently displayed in the lead up to the championship bout between Canelo Vs Amir Khan, which was the first ever Fight for Peace event under BoxVal. Amir is the President of the newly created WBC Middle East Federation. The WBC is embarking upon an initiative to boost boxing throughout the Middle East Region, to incorporate all nations, religions and creeds, under the umbrella of togetherness.
Boxing is a great leveler, bringing together young people seeking and sharing common ground, via training, fitness and sporting competition.
As the great Nelson Mandela once said:
“Sport has the power to change the World. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language that they understand.”
Pope Francisco`s Iraq trip, is another tremendous opportunity and enabler, spanning geography and belief. A first, but most certainly not a last meeting of minds via great Leaders, who want to set us all an example. His Holiness will meet and be greeted by Shia Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali-Husaymi Al Sistani. Together, they will sign a special document for Human Fraternity and World Peace.
His Holiness will also visit the ancient City of Ur, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham and then on to Erbil, where he will be cheered by Civic and Religious Leaders of Kurdistan.