By Boxing Bob Newman
The opening ceremonies of the World Boxing Council 47th world convention were held this morning at the elegant Ramada Hotel in Jeju Island, South Korea this Monday morning, 10 a.m. local time.
On hand were the presidents of the ten continental confederation members of the WBC, board of directors, Korean government officials, several past world champions from Korea and nearly 500 delegates and media from around the world.
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
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The singing of the Korean national anthem by the Jeju Provincial Choir with accompaniment by the Jeju Provincial Seogwipo Wind Orchestra started things off. The introduction of the WBC board of governors, guests of honor an former world champions was conducted by WBC Executive Director Mauricio Sulaiman and General Secretary Gaby Peñagaricano. The entrance of flags of the ten nations of the presidents of the continental federations followed.
A welcoming speech by Mr. Tae-Hwan Kim, governor of Jeju’s self governing province was given, followed by congratulatory messages from the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr. In-Chon Yu and Mr. Yong Ha Kim, Chairperson of the Jeju Special Provincial Council.
The WBC’s adopted theme song “We Are The World” was then performed by the Jeju Provincial Choir, followed by a video homage to members of the boxing community that passed away in the past year. Most notable among the fighters were former WBC champions Alexis Arguello, Vernon Forrest and Arturo Gatti.
WBC President Jose Sulaiman then made his opening remarks to the gathered attendants. He good naturedly encouraged the gathering to start the timers on their wrist watches to keep track of wagers made on how long his speech would last. After all was said and done, it was only forty minutes!
After a brief coffee break, the second session commenced with a Korean folkloric presentation of dance and drums to everyone’s enjoyment.
President Sulaiman then presented a lifetime achievement award to Dr. Gerald Finerman of UCLA for his contribution to the research, initiated by the WBC nearly million dollar contribution, of concussive brain injuries, suffered in the ring. The OPBF’s Major Lee was also presented with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to boxing in Korea and Asia overall. Mexican based network T.V. Azteca was also honored for their innovative boxing programming, initially concentrating on rising featherweights and lightweights.
Several former Korean world champions were presented with awards honoring their ring accomplishments. Former WBC Lt. Flyweight champ Jung Koo Chang, WBA Jr. Flyweight champ Myung Woo Yuh, WBA Flyweight champ Tae Shik Kim, WBC Flyweight champ Chan Hee Park, WBC Super Flyweight champ Chul Ho Kim, WBA Bantam and WBC Super Flyweight champ Sun Kil Moon, and WBC Featherweight champ In Jin Chi all graciously accepted their honors.
A moving video presentation and award were then presented to the widow of WBC Vice President Edmund Lipinski who unexpectedly passed away on March 20, 2009 while preparing to supervise the WBC Heavyweight title fight in Germany between champion Vitali Klitschko and Juan Carlos Gomez.
His widow Alevtina Lipinskaya accepted both a hand painted portrait of her husband, done by one of President Sulaiman’s sons, as well as a commemorative plaque. President Sulaiman declared that from this year forward, the WBC’s annual award to the nicest person in boxing will be so named for Edmund Lipinski. Mrs. Lipinskaya made a tearful speech, thanking everyone in attendance for their heartfelt condolences in her husband’s memory.
After lunch, workshops among ring officials, ratings committee, female championships, and more were held, with open sessions and final reports of each continuing throughout the week. This evening will end with a gala dinner sponsored by Jeju Governor Tae Hwan Kim.