By Boxing Bob Newman
Photos: Bob Newman
Day one of the NABF convention involving guests and delegates took place today at the Washington Court Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. If nothing else, nobody can say that the NABF isn’t a fun group! While the board of directors and a special officials committee had meetings starting from the beginning of the week, freshly arrived delegates, ring officials and guests were treated to several informative and entertaining talks and presentations sandwiched around a filling lunch buffet and capped off with the annual awards banquet this evening.
The proceedings kicked off with NABF executive secretary Joanna Aguilar served as emcee, welcoming attendees and introducing the speakers of the day.
Washington, D.C. Combat sports commissioner Adam Weers took the podium first, welcoming guests to the city. Weers commented on increased activity in both the pro and amateur ranks of boxing in the nation’s capital.
ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) president Mike Mazzulli chimed in on the outstanding training seminars conducted by the ABC throughout the year and the recent convention held just a couple weeks ago. Also the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations Director, Mazzulli is breathing new life into the Association and has been a welcomed addition by all accounts.
A “Ten Count” for recently fallen members of the boxing fraternity was tolled after some words by former NABF president Rex Walker and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and special guest Jessie Reyes, who is a ring official and the Dallas Deputy Police Chief.
Walker remembered former WBC treasurer Juan “Juanito” Sanchez who passed this year. Sanchez came to the U.S. To study engineering from pre-Castro Cuba. Attending LSU, Sanchez switched gears and became a CPA, never returning home as Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. A chance meeting with former WBC president Jose Sulaiman in Mexico found Sanchez agreeing to help with the accounting for the Council and the rest is history.
Mauricio Sulaiman paid homage to the “Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.
Ring official and Police Chief from Dallas, TX, Jessie Reyes honored the five slain officers from that city, having been massacred by a lone gunman this past July 7th. Photos of all five officers were screened and their bios delivered by Reyes. As a token of appreciation, all members of the delegation who were or are either police officers, firemen or first responders were recognized with special NABF medals.
Lightening the mood, NABF VP Craig Hubble ran down the list of delegates by U.S. States as well as the countries of Canada and Mexico and did so in typical, hilarious, Hubble fashion! Every state as well as our neighbors to the North and South were ruthlessly heckled to the uproarious laughter.
NABF president Duane Ford started off by giving thanks to and recognizing his predecessor, Joe Dwyer. Ford focused on relationships in boxing and how they make the NABF what they are. Ford also recognized current NABF fly and super fly champ Oscar Cantu who is in attendance this weekend.
The first key note speaker was attorney Pat English. English also started out focusing on relationships in boxing. Representing a slew of champions over the years, many from the Main Events promotional stable. English discussed many aspects of protecting a fighter and roles he has played in doing so: *looking at the integrity, ring presence and experience of referees being considered for assignment to a fight
*uniform rules and video reply on questionable calls by a ref
*consistency of judges in scoring fights- were they the “odd man out” in a split decision?
*consider post fight criticism of officials
Mauricio Sulaiman talked about the Muhammad Ali act in the late nineties changing the membership of the NABF, disallowing state commission members from being members of a sanctioning body. Ring officials from various states can however, be members.
Sulaiman cited North America as accounting for 85% of all activity in world boxing, leading to great potential for the NABF based on fighter volume alone.
After lunch, several more speakers took the podium. This writer was especially privileged to speak on the relationship between the media and the sport of boxing. (Fightnews’ Gary “Digital” Williams will cover that presentation).
California State Athletic Commissioner Andy Foster gave a very analytic and informative presentation on his methods for approving matches. Foster uses an interesting series of statistics regarding proposed “opponents” brought into California- called the “Boxing Severity Index.” The incoming opponent’s activity, recent record, KO or TKO (loss), age and ring age (rounds) are all brought into question and analyzed.
California judge Steve Morrow, also a former police officer and boxing writer, gave an emotional talk about his improbable trip in boxing. Morrow expressed his appreciation for being able to “do something that not everybody does in this world.”
The banquet saw another delicious buffet complimented by an entertaining awards ceremony as well as a raffle. Over $4000 was raised for the Dallas police department on this night. The high bid item was a framed original fight program and ticket from the second Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston fight in Lewiston, Maine which went to the WBC’s Jill Diamond for a nice sum of $2525.
Awards presented included:
Service Appreciation- Deb Hawkins
Woman of the Year- Joanna Aguilar
Welcome Back Award- Michael Ross
Appreciation Award- Barry Lindenman
Newcomer Award- Travis Ford
Grey In The Dark Award- Kevin Scott
Champion of the Year- Oscar Cantu
Match Maker of the Year/Man of the Year- Robert Diaz
Commission of the Year- California (Andy Foster)
Promoter of the Year- Golden Boy (Robert Diaz)
Fighter of the Year- Joseph Diaz, Jr.