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WBC head vows to revive popularity of boxing in S. Korea

All Headlines 17:44 April 06, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- Mauricio Sulaiman, the head of the World Boxing Council (WBC), said Wednesday he expects to see a "new era" in South Korean boxing, as the organization plans to help the country revive the sport by introducing new tournaments.

Sulaiman arrived in Seoul Tuesday for a three-day visit as part of his business trip to Asia. The Mexican president said that the WBC -- one of the four major sanctioning organizations in pro boxing, along with the International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) -- is willing to help South Korean boxing.

"South Korea was a country that had great champions in the past," he said. "There were problems with commissions and there were little activities here, but now is the time to start again."

Sulaiman, 46, is the son of the late WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who led the premier pro boxing organization for 40 years before he passed away in 2014. This was Mauricio Sulaiman's third visit to South Korea, but his first as the WBC chief.

"Many beautiful people made Korea a 'world force' in boxing," he said. "We need to work together and bring this Korean boxing back."

Sulaiman said he wants to open a "new era" for South Korean boxing by creating the WBC national championship and international competition between Asian countries. The WBC is also planning to have its four-round boxing tournament here.

"We are so excited to begin new formats and new topics for boxing here," he said. "In the future, we can have an international competition (of pro boxers) between countries. Imagine South Korea versus China and Japan versus South Korea."

Sulaiman said that having the national competition will unite the South Korean boxing community. The Korea Boxing Commission (KBC) and the Korea Boxing Federation (KBF), two rival boxing organizations in the country, said that they have agreed to make their athletes available for the WBC competition.

"They have spoken about mutual cooperation," he said. "Nothing is more important than boxing itself."

Sulaiman said in order to revive the popularity of boxing in South Korea, people will first need to create activities and vitalize competitions here. He believes the involvement of media and launching television deals are also critical.

"We need to make people go to the gym and start boxing," he said. "I think we will see a different scene next year and this will grow next year and so on."

When asked about the International Boxing Association (AIBA)'s movement to allow professional boxers to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, Sulaiman strongly opposed the idea of the amateur boxing organization, saying it is a "crime" to match veteran pro boxers against young amateur fighters.

"The AIBA knows very little about boxing," he said. "They only care about money. They don't care about the boxers, safety and the Olympic greatness. We are to let the International Olympic Committee to know about their tricks."

Sulaiman said he doesn't expect any pro boxers of the WBC to compete in the Olympics and fight young amateurs, but if they decided to do so, they will be punished.

"We will expel pro boxers who compete in the Olympics," he said. "Fighting against young boys is a crime."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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