Photos and report by Boxing Bob Newman
Day 1 of the 49th annual WBC convention officially opened Monday morning at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center’s South Seas Pavillion. Arguably the most attendees ever at any boxing convention witnessed a display of pomp not seen in recent memory. Nearly 100 past and present champions and contenders were also on hand including new arrivals George Foreman, Paul Banke, Wayne McCullough, Mia St. John, Christie Martin, Joe Hipp, Azumah Nelson, among others.
Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. opened the show in style, calling NABF President Joe Dwyer to make some opening remarks. Famed boxing t.v. commentator Col. Bob Sheridan also assisted with the roll call of champions along side a video hilighting each champ’s memorable ring moments.
WBC President Jose Sulaiman gave his customary opening remarks, lauding the champions on hand as “My heroes.” The ritual flag ceremony then got underway with the flags of WBC member countries marched to the front of the hall by several of the present champions. Roy jones Jr. carried the host nation USA flag. The theme song of the WBC, “We Are The World” was sung by Wynona McCullough, daughter of former WBC Bantamweight champ Wayne, backed up by a chorus of local children.
Awards were given to the govenor of Quintana Roo Robert Borge was given an award citing his support of bixing in the Mexican state.
Members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission also were recognized and presented with awards for their role in high level of boxing administered in Las Vegas throughout the years, leading the city to be recognized as the “Boxing Capital of the World.”
Commemorative WBC belts were given to former champions George Foreman, Roy Jones Jr., Christie Martin, Sugar Ray Leonard along with an original WBC belt being presented to Ken Norton. International Boxing Hall of Fame director Ed Brophy was also a recipient of a commemorative belt as well as a plaque.
After a lunch break, a slide show of boxing notables that have passed on since the last convetion was presented. Most notable among boxers were Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Brett Lally, as well as boxing family members, and WBC board members- active and past.
WBC president Jose Sulaiman and theboard of governors presented the WBC Lifetime Acheivemment Award to treasurer Juan Sanchez for his years of dedication to the WBC and the sport of boxing.
Dr. Donald Catlin of UCLA gave an indepth talk on anti doping in not only boxing, but across the sporting spectrum. The pros and cons os WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) were discussed, the case in boxing of Shane Mosley and his involvement with Balco was discussed, along with those of other world class athletes who were caught using PEDs (Performance enhancing drugs).
During Dr. Catlin’s talk, promoter Don King made an unexpected, yet typically bombastic entrance to the hall, temporarily drawing attention away from the talk.
With the 2012 WBC convention already slated to take place in Cancun, Mexico, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the WBC, bids wer heard for the 2013 convention sights. Up first was Neil McAvoy making the pitch for Cardiff, Wales, followed by Harry Gorian stumping for Croatia. Cardiff was the sight of the very successful 2010 WBC Night of Champions, while Dubrovnik, Croatia was also the sight of the 2006 WBC convention. The capital of Zagreb was mentioned, as Croatia will officially become a member of the European Union in July of 2013. Dubai, United Arab Emirates is also in the running for the 2013 convention, but did not have a repsresentative present to make their pitch.
The firs day of awards, talks and work drew to an end with the opening banquest slated for 7 p.m. PST.