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José Sulaimán, After His Green And Gold Belt

This column, “Hook to the Liver,” has become the greatest passion of our dad, José Sulaimán. He has written it every single Sunday for the last five years, no matter where he might be in the world. All of you, who read it, are a very important part of his life.

We are sitting in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit at UCLA Medical Center, home to the Sports Medicine Foundation of the WBC where so many achievements and changes were made in favor of the health and physical integrity of the boxers. We are witnesses of his eternal fight for equality and justice in his beloved sport; we are his children, accomplices, and critics of his accomplishments.

Pepe, as his friends always call him, is a tireless fighter, and we don’t mean to adulate. He lives to work and to serve others. His commitment and satisfaction has always been to be there for everyone at all times.

We have always known that for him, every boxer is yet another son, without consideration of rank, from amateur boxers to the greatest champions in history. As his children, it has always been hard for us to share his dedication and love but also, it has been more than gratifying to know that most of them consider him as a father, too. We got used to getting home to eat and finding Ali, Tyson, Chávez, Durán and many many more; to see Don King walk into our mom’s kitchen yelling “Martha, Martha, I’m hungry,” and our mom cooking special boiled eggs for Ultiminio Ramos to help him keep his weight. It was always everyone’s home. It still is.

His conversation is always very interesting, his stories full of popular sayings, sometimes even modified by him. He has never lost his identity as a man from Tamaulipas, Mexico, nor his accent, simple and sincere with a deep sense of help and service to the humble people. As a boy, during his childhood in Mexico, he was discriminated for being Arab, and that lead him to his unbreakable fight for the poor and outcast today. This is his greatest fight of all – the equality of humankind.

Our father is a romantic. He met Martha, the woman of his life, in Victoria City and to start their relationship he took her to watch a movie starring Raul “Raton” Macias. After the show, he asked her to be his sweetheart. Today, 54 years later, they’re still happily married. His passion for sports led him to practice several ones. He was a good baseball player and, in spite of his height, he was a star in basketball. One Saturday, as president of “The Cuerudos” soccer team in Victoria City, he was called through the stadium speakers: “Pepe Sulaimán, run to the hospital because your baby is being born.” It was Lucy, the second of the six, and the first words that Arturo, the doctor who delivered her, said were “What´s the score?”

We have just been through 10 hours of anguish during the surgery, many more waiting to see him, and when we finally were with him in the Intensive Care Unit and he recovered from the anaesthesia, his one and only comment was related to boxing. This is our life, and we are grateful for it because we are with two of the best and kindest human beings there are, our parents.

We, his family, can’t find enough words to thank the innumerable demonstrations of love, caring, and concern through the numerous calls, messages, visits, and most of all, the prayers we all have received throughout this process our dad is going through – everyone in his corner cheering him for the next round – as well as the dedication and commitment of all our employees, staff, counselors, and colleagues helping with extra effort at this tiring time. They all are part of the Sulaiman family.

Until next Sunday, when we hope he will be writing this column himself.

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