By Mauricio Sulaiman – The name of today’s column was inspired by what I saw this past weekend in Chicago during the closing activities of the sensational program 2N1D “2 Nations 1 Dream – Boxing without Borders.” Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield was present as guest of honor at the amateur boxing show in which all 21 kids who are enrolled in 2N1D fought.
Why was I so impressed with Evander? Well, he has won my heart through his actions. He is humble and easy going, he always says “yes” to a photograph and does it with a smile. He’s always on time to go to the events, and all he talks about is his “Momma.” To listen to his story is entertaining and highly motivational. I’m sure that one day there will be a book or even movie about his life and the influence of Mom.
The amateur boxing show was held at Cicero Stadium, a traditional boxing venue from the past in Chicago. The show started at 5 pm. There were 20 fights, awards, and speeches, so it was a five-hour event. When Chuck Williams called Evander to confirm the time of departure for the venue, Chuck recommended for them to leave around 6:30 or 7:00. The champ immediately said, “No way. I want to be there from the first bout. All the kids deserve it, and I want to see the fights!”
Evander went into the ring 20 times to award a medal and belt to the winner. He also took hundreds of photos in between bouts, and sat all night giving these young warriors his full attention and motivating them to perform. EVANDER HOLYFIELD IS THE REAL DEAL.
The 2N1D program leaves an indelible mark in the hearts and spirits of many of us. Chicago, Mexico City, and Acapulco, all in all it was about 150 boys and girls who participated in this three-month program. Boxing training, awareness, and motivational seminars, community actions, cultural events, and the boxing tournament – at the end, there were tears at all three sites, there was laughter and joy, but most importantly there was unity, and as mentioned during the closing remarks, this is not the end of a program. It is the beginning of a new life for all involved .
I must praise Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, for taking boxing as a way to truly get to the basics and roots of our society and change the lives of the kids, their families, and the neighborhoods. The Mexican Consulate in Chicago, Mr. Carlos Jimenez Macias, and the ministry of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, led by David Velazco, participated throughout the many actions that made the program unique and special .
The Illinois Boxing Commission was fundamental for the success. Nancy Illg led the efforts, and Joel Campuzano performed the tasks with his team. USA Boxing, which regulates amateur boxing in the United States, collaborated hand in hand with the WBC Amateur Program as Joe Sanchez, head of USA Boxing in the state, and with the Illinois Boxing Commission made a solid statement that there can be reciprocity and mutual respect .
The WBC will have a group of kids from 2N1D at the annual convention in Hollywood, Florida, which begins this coming Sunday, and those kids will be surrounded by the great heroes of the ring from today and yesterday. The solid group who dedicated three months with passion and dedication made a bond which will forever be remembered – Joel, Celestino, Derek, Mario, Leo, Lao, and Michel.
Our convention is shaping to be one of the best ever. The Diplomat Beach Resort is beautiful, and there will be many great champions in attendance. There are so many important topics of discussion, and the world of boxing is eager to unite and continue to find ways of making boxing better and safer.
The boxing world will give The Greatest, The King of Boxing Muhammad Ali, his final homage, as a spectacular memorial will take place on Monday, December 12th. The awards dinner will also be magic, as we will have in the room some of the greatest champions of today and yesterday, and the future stars of the sport.
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