By Boxing Bob Newman
The opening session of the NABF Executive Committee meeting were held this morning at the Westin hotel in San Diego’s Gas Lamp Quarter. This was to have been an election year for the presidency of the NABF. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc around the world at large, a full convention was impossible to hold. Being that the elections are to be held during a convention, according to the NABF bylaws, the elections will be held next year at the 2022 convention.
NABF president Duane Ford opened the meeting with his own introductions of every board member and guests who were in attendance, noting their area of expertise and sharing little anecdotes along the way.
Next was the playing of the national anthems of member countries Canada, Mexico and the USA.
Ford then took an emotional time out for a remembrance and a memorial ten-count of the bell for those lost to the pandemic.
Surprise keynote speaker was Hall-of-Fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr. Lennon, Jr. took the microphone and regaled the attendees with tales of his famous ring announcer father, Jimmy Lennon, Sr. He also shared his introduction to the sport and his career as an announcer after spending the early part of his career in education.
Some of Lennon, Jr’s. career highlights included his first world title fight being Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Mario “Azebache” Martinez in what would be Chavez’ first world title win, announcing the stunning upset of Mike Tyson by James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Japan and announcing the Chavez vs Greg Haugen fight at Azteca Stadium with 135,000 fans in attendance. Lennon finished by taking questions from the committee members- ranging from his preparation techniques, to keeping a “poker face” when reading a controversial scorecard, to whether or not he’s ever had a “bathroom challenge” in the ring! His answer to that one was an emphatic, “No!”
NABF vice president and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman took to the lectern next. Sulaiman repeated the utmost responsibilities of sanctioning bodies are the safety of the fighters and justice in scoring. Sulaiman cited the recent stunning, comeback tenth round KO of Julio Ceja by Mark Magsayo, a fight Magsayo appeared to be on the way to losing, as an example of how a fight can change at any moment, no matter how far behind or how far ahead a fighter is, nor how little time is left.
The history and significance of the NABF in boxing, was extolled by Sulaiman. “All the other organizations, all they do is rank and sanction fights. They don’t do what we do- affiliate titles, the WBC Cares, helping fighters outside the ring. This work comes with a great deal of satisfaction, but also a great deal of responsibility,” said Sulaiman.
“All you ring officials- you represent Arthur Mercante and his legacy. You represent Duane Ford when he was a judge.”
Sulaiman then turned over the lectern to former NABF president Rex Walker. Walker reflected about how pivotal boxing and the NABF itself, is in the lives of everyone in the room. “I don’t think anyone in this room would know anyone else here if it weren’t for boxing.” Walker then explained the voting situation with the move to an election in 2022, given the NABF is able to have a convention. NABF vice president Joanna Aguilar DeBrine motioned that if there is no convention in 2022, the vote be moved to 2023, with the current president remaining until that time. With 100% consensus, the executive board passed the motion to have Duane Ford remain as president until the convention/election of 2022 or 2023, whichever comes first.
Duane Ford then introduced Xochitl Lagarda Burton of the WBC University. Lagarda Burton introduced the WBC University as a digital portal of boxing educational services. This is not only a platform, but an official education. The initiative is partnered with Liberquaré, a university in Spain. The educational proposal of the WBC University can be taught in several modalities: online, face-to-face, remote, mixed, automated, blended and traditional. The objective is to achieve boxing professionals with level of competency recognized by all and one which can be certified.
After lunch, Rocky Herron, DEA agent addressed the assembly on his program called Operation Prevention San Diego- I Choose My Future. Herron feels prevention is the most key part of combating the drug problem in the U.S. “Don’t get me wrong, I love throwing bad guys in jail. But that cycle will never end. It’s like playing ‘Whack-a-mole.’ You knock down one, two more will pop up. We need to get things to the point where kids don’t want to buy the drugs any more,” said Herron. A very gut-wrenching slide show closed the presentation which showed both celebrity and everyday people who died from drug overdoses, starting with people in their late fifties, all the way down to an infant, 11 days old, who overdosed from drugs in her mother’s milk. Herron was invited by WBC Cares chairperson Jill Diamond to pair up and join forces to talk to schools and other populations of young people via their 26 WBC Cares chapters around the world. Xochitl Lagarda Burton of the WBC University also proposed teaming up with Herron’s initiative as well.
Vice president Joanna Aguilar DeBrine presented the WBC Year-In-Boxing during the COVID-ravaged year. While boxing as a sport came back, there were many boxing-related events involving the WBC. The 100-year anniversary of the Dempsey vs Carpentier fight and the 50-year anniversary of the Ali-Frazier I fight and many other iconic fights of the past, have been celebrated online, with small in-person events as well. An event involving the WBC Cares in Japan is planned for later this year.
Gaby Mancini discussed issues with the amateur program in boxing. Mancini proposed that the WBC get involved with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) as AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) is in a poor state of affairs with the IOC. A 1960 Olympic boxer for Canada, Mancini’s heart lies with amateur boxing but feels the professional side of the sport needs to get involved to help it’s amateur brothers and sisters.
Misty Moravec has been appointed to Executive Secretary of Affiliate Titles. The objective of the position is to standardize the rules and regulations among the affiliate titles and remove discrepancies. Moravec thanked both Mo Noor and Rex Walker for mentoring her during her introduction into boxing.
The referee committee of Tom Taylor, Jay Nady, Frank Garza and Vic Drakulich recorded video ring instructions, to be presented Thursday in a standardization effort to bring more uniformity to the referee’s instructions in the fighters’ dressing rooms before the fight.
There will be another personality improvement session, followed by a dinner tonight at the host hotel, The Westin.