Round 12 with Mauricio Sulaimán: Celebrities in boxing

By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC

Is it good to see personalities get into the ring? Yes of course! But it is important to take a number of steps to make it a resounding success.
Boxing is the oldest sport in history. It all began with obtaining power and supremacy from the time of the caves, and thus evolved to find traces of this discipline throughout the evolution of humanity. My friend, a California boxing commissioner, confirmed to me that it is one of the few sports mentioned in the Bible, and here are the quotes:

1 Corinthians 9:26: “Therefore I run in this way, not as without aiming; in this way I fight, not like beating the air ”.

2 Samuel 2:14: “Then Abner said to Joab, ‘Let the young men now rise up and compete before us.’ And Joab replied, ‘Let them get up.’

Psalms 3: 7: “Arise, Lord! Save me, my God! For you strike my enemies on the cheek, you break the teeth of the wicked ”.

Ezekiel 25: 12-13: “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Because Edom has acted vindictively against the house of Judah, it has incurred grave guilt and avenged itself on them’; therefore, thus says the Lord God: ‘I will also stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off man and animals from it and leave it in ruins; from Teman to Dedan they will fall… ‘”.

Our sport has been practiced by great personalities in history: Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, President Adolfo López Mateos, Cantinflas, and even the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

It is a sport that generates great emotions; it is passionate and motivates to want to be the one who is at the top of the ring one day generating those stories.

Rocky is a character that the great Sylvester Stallone created and led millions of people to follow this discipline, to eat raw eggs at dawn, and go running through the streets to train boxing …

There are a lot of personalities who have tried to get into the ring formally and have had amateur fights, exhibitions and even professionals.

The baseball home runner, José Canseco had some fights; Shaquille O’Neal gave an exhibition with Shane Mosley; singer Donny Osmond tried it too; Ryan O’Neal, a great passionate about boxing, produced films on this subject and also decided to try to fight, and Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke held several professional fights, even becoming the main fight in Japan. Best of all was the huge Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Ed Too Tall Jones, who won six professional bouts, all by KO.

Today this has become a phenomenon that seems uncontrollable. It all started three years ago, when an amateur boxing match between two influencers was announced in England: KSI of England faced Logan Paul, generating a spectacular house in a poorly organized event, but which had an unusual audience; Entire families filled the arena and the contest resulted in a draw.

A year later the rematch took place, but it was already a professional fight, and they filled the Staples Center in Los Angeles; there KSI won. Logan’s brother, Jake Paul, also fought, beginning their exemplary dedication to boxing. They train tirelessly, they have passion and they do it well. Jake has had two more fights, knocking out his rivals spectacularly; one, a former NBA player, and the other a former fighter and MMA fighter.

Logan will be facing Floyd Mayweather in June; it will be an exhibition and it is generating noise around the world.

Is it good for boxing to see personalities get into the ring? OF COURSE! This is leading millions of fans to watch this sport, as long as absolute care is taken by the commissions where the fights are held, that there are rigorous medical examinations, anti-doping tests and a prior assessment to verify that the fight is balanced, as well like having a qualified referee ready to act if necessary.

Now legendary champions are announcing shows and fights; that, in my opinion, is more careful. Boxing is not a game, and to sustain a fight after years of retirement requires many factors to align.

Holyfield will be fighting at 58 against Kevin McBride, 47; both have more than 10 years of not getting in a ring. Oscar de la Hoya will also be fighting an MMA fighter, and several former champions have already announced exhibitions.

Julio César Chávez and Travieso Arce gave the example of how to do an exhibition. They must be with a mask, with 16 or 18 ounce gloves, no more than three rounds and with altruistic motives. They have gone up to give a great show, to entertain the public, and with respect and admiration for their rival.

Let’s hope that this trend towards personality fights and legendary champion fights will not have consequences and that they will be well-organized and well-cared for events.


Mike Tyson returned to the ring to give an exhibition with Roy Jones Jr., during the most difficult moments of the pandemic; That led millions of people to see the show, generating a show among the top 10 pay-per-view sales in history. Tyson gave a great demonstration and shook the world.

Today’s anecdote

My dad suffered on many occasions when he saw great idols of the past return again and again to the ring out of financial necessity or because of that desire to stay popular, missing the applause of the public. He saw how Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and so many more were humiliated, by getting on when they should no longer be.

One of the sad nights was that when El Púas Olivares announced his farewell from the ring, one of many he had already done; Before a full Mexico Arena, he went up with mariachis to face a rookie: Ignacio Madrid. El Puas fell to the canvas nine times and lost by KO, in one of the most embarrassing shows in boxing …

“The boxer does not tolerate seeing that it is someone else who receives the applause; he enters a great depression that does not allow him to live in peace, and worst of all is that many times the money left and, along with it, all the false friends who enjoyed the fruits of the years of glory.
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