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IBF convention wrap up!

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IBF members and guests spent an enjoyable evening featuring entertainment from a Panamanian Folkloric Dance ensemble and guest appearances by Alexis Arguello,MarkBreland and Ulises “Archie” Solis at the organization’s Gala Banquet. Midway through the evening, Larry Hazzard, Sr., IBF Chairman of Officials Supervision, Training & Development and Personal Assistant to the President, opened the awards ceremony welcoming and thanking all in attendance for their continued support on behalf of theIBF/USBA and President, Marian W. Muhammad. Hazzard expressed, “We are all part of an extended family and it is with your support that the IBF continues to thrive.” Mr. Hazzard then proceeded with the ceremony presenting Felicidad Duran, wife of Roberto Duran, with a plaque in recognition of the legendary pugilist’achievements throughout his career and his historic standing in the sport. Mrs. Duran graciously accepted on her husband’s behalf stating, “Roberto is very honored by this distinction and laments not being here to receive it.” Duran was not present due to a previous engagement for a charitable event.

After the presentation to Duran several other honors were bestowed to attendees. Referee Roberto Perlaza of Panama was awarded with a miniature replica of the IBFChampionship belt for his “excellent work in the ring” added Hazzard. Daryl Peoples, the organization’s Ratings Chairman, followed by presenting the same award to Porfirio Betegon and his partners of Universal Boxing Promotion for readily assisting the organization in planning the convention in Panama City, Panama. Lastly, the highest award the organization bestows upon a boxer each year was presented by Lindsey Tucker, IBF Championships Chairman, to Ulises Solis. Solis was chosen as the recipient of the organization’s “Jersey Joe Walcott Award” for 2008 for his outstanding achievements in the ring. Mr. Tucker, elaborated, “I can’t think of a more deserving fighter for this award. He is a great fighter and always does what is expected of him.” Solis was grateful for this high recognition and added, “I have suffered a setback but I will keep training hard and move forward in order to regain the title.” Solis was also awarded with a Championship Ring the organization presents to fighters who have had at least three or more successful title defenses consecutively.

Earlier in the week

At the press conference, International Boxing Federation President, Marian W. Muhammad and the organization were welcomed to Panama City, Panama, for the organization’s 26th Annual convention. The press conference highlighted a fight card promoted by Universal Boxing Promotions that took place Thursday, May 29, which headlined two IBF Latino Junior title fights. Ms. Muhammad was thanked by the promoter, Porfirio Betegon, and by the Panamanian Boxing Commissioner Miguel Prado for the sanctioning body’s support of boxing in Panama. Muhammad expressed, “We are happy to be here and more importantly we want to support and give opportunities to the talented fighters in the region.” Several convention attendees showed their support to the world sanctioning organization and Universal Boxing Promotions by attending the show that Thursday.

The night before the fight, the IBF/USBA conventioneers were treated to a spectacular evening. Although IBF staff and executives kept quiet about what prominent boxers would attend the Meet the Champions event, rumors circulated about the possible attendance of some of Latin America’s most renowned fighters. The evening started with an enthusiastic welcome to the guests by Larry Hazzard, Sr. Following Mr. Hazzard’s opening was Marian Muhammad, who also welcomed the audience and noted the purpose of the evening expressing, “We are here this evening to acknowledge fighters who have given us thrills and chills in the ring.” Shortly thereafter, and to a roar from the crowd, strolled in ring legend Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran followed by the great Alexis Arguello. Both men graciously accepted the warm welcome from the crowd, posed for many pictures and signed autographs. Other notable boxers in attendance were former world champions Peppermint Frazier and Hilario Zapata, current IBF/WBA Jr. Featherweight Champion Celestino Caballero, former IBF Junior Featherweight Champion Jose Sanabria, former IBF Junior Bantamweight Champion Felix Machado and 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time world champion Mark Breland.

Some of the organization’s annual awards were presented during this evening as well. In attendance to accept his award for Most Active USBA promoter of 2008 wasJoeDeGuardia of Star Boxing. The Most Active IBF Promoter of 2008 was Branco Sports Promotion of South Africa. Most IBF Title Defenses went to Wladimir Klitschkoand Steve Molitor. The IBF Fight of theYear was a tie between Steve Cunningham vs. Tomasz Adamek and Orlando Salido vs. Critsobal Cruz. Several other honors were awarded that evening.

After an eventful night, the following day marked the beginning of the business of the convention. The organization’s officers and executive Board Members gave brief reports on their activity throughout the year. A special presentation took place during this session by Noah Reandeau of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell Governmental Affairs, about the progress with the government’s plans to create one entity to oversee boxing. Many involved in the sport are opposed to this action by the government and diligently work to prove such an entity would not be right for boxing. As a result of the dialogue that occurred after Mr. Reandeau’s presentation, a committee may form from this group comprised of members representing different aspects of the sport to continue to lobby against this possible government action.

A full day was reserved for the Referee’s, Judge’s and Medical Seminars. Ms. Muhammad always encourages the conventioneers to attend these seminars because of the knowledge imparted by peers and the opportunity for all to “take something back with them.” The Referee’s Seminar was scheduled first. Four referees and members oftheIBF, Benjy Estevez, Jack Reiss, Patrick Russell and Pete Podgorski presented the seminar and Mr. Hazzard oversaw the presentation, and interjected with his knowledge and experience as a world-class referee.

Each year a significant part of the seminar focuses on the referee’s knowledge of a fighter’s health during a fight. Referee Jack Reiss of California, presented this portion advising the audience to “put your doctor’s hat on.” Reiss went through a serious of typical injuries seen in the ring and signs of more serious injuries that would require the stoppage of a bout. Hazzard interjected by advising the attendees to work closely with ringside physicians to learn more about the signs and symptoms of serious injuries to a boxer.

The Medical Seminar followed and was presented by noted ringside physicians Dr. William Lathan, IBF Medical Advisor, Dr. Barry Jordan and Dr. Paul Wallace. Dr.Lathan, the moderator, began the seminar by stressing the importance of boxers obtaining and maintaining licensing requirements. Dr. Jordan, a specialist in brain injuries, continued the informative presentation focusing on the brain and injuries that it may sustain during a bout. Dr. Wallace, a notable plastic surgeon, took the floor after and closed the seminar with a presentation on cuts, focusing on how they should be treated and when it is necessary to stop a bout due to a cut. Most importantly, Dr. Wallace stressed the importance of a referee’s awareness of a fighter’s health during a fight and advised, “When a boxer is knocked out don’t take your eyes off that fighter immediately to direct the other boxer back to his corner.” Wallace stressed that the referee is the closest and the first person to see the signs of a serious injury and this information is crucial to how an injured fighter is treated.

The Judges’s Seminar was the last of the day and presented by well-known judges Joe Pasquale, Jerome Jakubco and Adelaide Byrd. This year, ethics for professional boxing judges was a major focus of the presentation. Mr. Jakubco advised his peers, “We should always remember that this sport has always had a perception problem for us as professional boxing judges. We must always remain cognizant of the fact that we are always under constant scrutiny and should never allow ourselves to be placed in compromising predicaments as we travel around the world for boxing bouts.” Jakubco went on to recommend on how judges should act at ringside during a bout as well as before and after and to be aware of whom they associate with during an event that may lead to wrongful implications.

The IBF/USBA 26th Annual Convention concluded on Saturday morning, May 30, 2009. Ms. Muhammad was pleased with the turnout for the convention and once again thanked all members in attendance for their continued support. As is customary during this session, the organization’s President went on to discuss possible sites for next year’s convention. The frontrunner was Beijing, China were the IBF is quickly strengthening its presence. Other possible sites discussed were the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Quebec, Canada, Memphis, Tennessee, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. The site for the IBF/USBA 2010 convention will be decided in the coming months.

During each convention the IBF raises money for the SARB/Educational Fund which was created by the organization sixteen years ago, first to assist retired boxers facing financial difficulties and later a scholarship fund was added for the children and grandchildren of IBF members. The IBF has granted seven, three thousand dollar scholarships for the 2009-2010 school year.

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