12.06.04 – From WBC President Jose Sulaiman: “It is with great sadness that the World Boxing Council announces that, on June 14, 2004, it will instruct its counsel to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation proceedings.
“The WBC was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003 after a New York jury awarded Graciano Rocchigiani $31 million dollars based on his allegation that the WBC stripped him of his world title. The WBC had hoped to persuade the Court and the jury that it was not liable and not responsible for the harm Mr. Rocchigiani alleged. Sadly, and despite a vigorous defense, the WBC did not prevail.
“As much as the WBC would like to satisfy the judgment, it is simply impossible for the WBC – a not-for-profit organization – to pay Mr. Rocchigiani the staggering $31 million dollar award. Still, at all times, the WBC has done everything in its power to comply with the procedures and orders of the Federal Court in New York and of the Bankruptcy Court in Puerto Rico.
“In a last attempt to give Mr. Rocchigiani redress, the WBC recently made a substantial monetary settlement offer to Mr. Rocchigiani. Unfortunately, Mr. Rocchigiani rejected this generous offer, which itself far exceeds what Mr. Rocchigiani could hope to recover in WBC liquidation proceedings.
“Very few people could understand the deep sorrow the WBC’s bankruptcy will signify to me personally, and to the members of the 10 continental federations representing 161 affiliated countries, who have devoted the very best of efforts, without compensation, to serve the boxing community, and those humble social sectors that are the cradle of the majority of our boxers world-wide, as our commitment as human beings towards the service of others in the world society.
“Many of the greatest and immortal champions of the second half of the 20th Century have been WBC world champions, like Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Carlos Monzon, Azumah Nelson, Marvin Hagler, Roy Jones Jr., Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, Oscar De La Hoya, Tommy Hearns, Wilfredo Gomez, Eder Jofre, Chartchai Chionoi, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, Alexis Arguello, Jungkoo Chang, Flash Elorde, Konstantin Tszyu, Vitali Klitschko, Frank Bruno, and many others who have written their name with golden letters in the history of world boxing.
“Ours efforts and actions also have served to transform boxing from legalized savagery into a sport regulated by the most advanced and humanized regulations to protect boxers at the highest historic level. Some of these efforts are:
* Reduction of fights from 15 to 12 rounds
* 24 hour weigh-in
* Food, medical and hospital pension plans for all ex champions and ex boxers in need.
* UCLA/WBC Program for brain injury research and treatment
* Four-rope ring
* Thumb-attached glove
* Full mandatory medical exams
* Intermediate weight divisions to avoid inhumane weight reductions by boxers
* Antidoping exams after each bout since 1977
* World Medical Congress for medical optimization
* World Ring Officials Congress to optimize ring officials’ performance
“Many, many more rules and actions have changed and renovated our sport for the better, leading it to new ideals, safety, opportunities and human dignity, as well.
“Personally, I was born in boxing; I have lived all my life in it and want to die in the sport I love, as I am sure it is also the wish of all our friends and colleagues in every corner of the world. We are proud to have devoted our life for the good of the sport and will continue to do so in any manner possible, so we go on, feeling proud of our commitment to be of service.”