Health + Behavior

UCLA honors legacy of former World Boxing Council president

Don Jose Sulaiman adopted numerous measures to protect boxers’ health

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Don Jose Sulaiman
World Boxing Council

Don Jose Sulaiman

The UCLA Health System and department of neurosurgery will celebrate the legacy of Don Jose Sulaiman, former president of the World Boxing Council, with a tribute luncheon on Aug. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the W Hotel, 930 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. 

The event will honor Sulaiman's leadership in protecting boxers’ health during his 38-year tenure as president, including:

  • Reducing championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds, a move followed by other boxing sanctioning organizations
  • Switching official weigh-ins from the morning of a fight to the day before to provide time for fighters to rehydrate
  • Instituting gloves with thumbs attached
  • Implementing mandatory anti-doping tests
  • Establishing life and hospitalization insurance for boxers
  • Founding 30- and 7-day advance weigh-ins to prevent dehydration and crash dieting
  • Adding a fourth tier to the ring rope to reduce falls
  • Funding medical research at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center
  • Creating the Friendly Hand Benevolent Foundation and the Boxer's Pension Fund to support indigent ex-boxers and their families
  • Establishing World Boxing Cares, a nonprofit that sends boxing celebrities into hospitals, orphanages and youth centers to inspire children 

Featured speakers include former WBC champions Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya; Dr. David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System and CEO of UCLA Hospital System; Dr. Gerald Finerman, chair of orthopaedic surgery; David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center; and Dr. Neil Martin, chair of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Born in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, Sulaiman devoted most of his life to boxing. He was an amateur boxer, trainer, promoter, referee and judge before being elected president of the WBC. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sulaiman died at the age of 82 on Jan. 9, 2014, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was survived by his wife, six children and 14 grandchildren.

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