According to an article Thursday on ProBoxingInsider.com, World Boxing Council (WBC) president Jose Sulaiman passed away Thursday in Los Angeles. He had been hospitalized there since October with a heart issue. He was 82 years old at the time of his death, which was confirmed by his son, Mauricio.
Sulaiman spent the majority of his life involved in boxing. He began as a trainer before moving on to become a trainer, referee, and then a judge. However, his fame came once he became an administrator. In 1968 he joined the WBC, and became the president of the organization in 1975. He would remain in that position until his death.
It was under his leadership that many rules were developed to improve the safety and welfare of the fighters. Perhaps the biggest was the reduction in rounds in championship fights from 15 to 12. It was also Sulaiman who played a role in moving the official weigh-in from the morning of the fight to 24 hours before. That allowed fighters to more properly rehydrate.
During his tenure at the helm, the WBC sanctioned over 1,100 title bouts and saw more than 300 fighters become world champions.
"He certainly treated all fighters as his sons and daughters; he suffered from their problems and worked every single day of his life to try to make boxing better and safer," the WBC said in a statement.
However, Jose Sulaiman also had more than his fair share of critics. Many claimed that he played favorites, and that some of his relationships became too-close.
Many figures in the boxing world tweeted their condolences on Thursday night.
Trainer Freddie Roach: "Rest in peace Jose Sulaiman. My sincerest condolences to the Sulaiman family."
Lou DiBella: "My deepest and sincerest condolences to the Sulaiman family and the entire WBC, especially my dear friend Mauricio. Jose loved boxing. RIP."
Manny Pacquiao, multiple time world champion: "My prayers go out to the family of Jose Sulaiman. He was very kind to me. God bless you all."
Lennox Lewis, former heavyweight champion: "Very sad to hear about the passing of my longtime friend and President of the WBC José Sulaimán. Prayers go out from my family to his."
He is survived by his wife and six children.