A magnificent opening to the World Boxing Council’s Convention in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and a wonderful greeting from President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the people, who have welcomed the WBC family of one hundred and seventy nations with warmth, hospitality and open arms.
The Bulbulcha Children’s Choir conducted by Alibek Kabdurakhmanov who is the Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, sang the National Anthem with their hands on their hearts. Then a beautiful rendition of We are the World.
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said it’s encouraging to see how the world is uniting to make boxing better and that an important seed is being planted at the beginning of this Convention.
There was a welcome speech from Deputy Prime Minister Archilbay Ramatov. Gafur Rahimov the First Vice President of Uzbekistan’s Professional Boxing Federation also spoke. Five of the nation’s eleven Olympic medals have come from boxing so the WBC visit is being considered a defining moment of opportunity extending boxing into the professional sphere.
There was a presentation honoring Miracle Man Adonis Stevenson who was injured in a world title fight, spent eighteen days in a coma. But with his fortitude plus will to live and the prayers of the world, he opened his eyes and continues to make a determined and remarkable recovery.
Billy Dib is the Champion of Hope. He used his boxer’s true grit to fight and defeat stomach cancer. He thanked the WBC for reaching out with Mauricio inviting him to the Convention. An inspiration tonic. A standing ovation as Billy said: “Without this inspiration spirit, I wouldn’t be here today.”
As he walked by, former opponent and forever friend Amir hugged Billy The Brave.
WBC Cares Chair Jill Diamond said she had been concerned about coming. But what unites us in this world is stronger than what divides us. Fighting belongs in the ring and passion belongs in our hearts.
Young Bridger Walker presented boxer Dayana Sanchez, burned in a house fire the Bravest Woman On Earth Award. The WBC has given a helping hand, as her home was all but destroyed. The Jose Sulaiman Fund helps boxers who have fallen on hard times in their hour of need. It was one of the final dreams of Don José. And Mauricio has worked tirelessly to make it a practical working reality.
A tribute to the late, great and forever remembered Hubert Minn. And a Lifetime Achievement Award to Enza Jacoponi, a member of the EBU going back to 1963. She said: “Boxing is in my blood and I am dedicated to it.”
Scott Welch of WBC Cares UK introducing a presentation display of wheel chair boxing, inviting able bodied people to try this out in the specially designed wheelchairs.
Then the visual highlight with the white robe and turban ceremony, which started with Holyfield and Usyk. They were joined by other champions big and small, to the delight of the numerous and appreciative audience. Roberto Duran and Chiquita González looked especially sartorial.
What an opening gambit by the WBC which has been a smash hit. In the lyrics of Britney Spears: Look I’ve done it again. And in the words of Carley Simon: Nobody does it better!