Mauricio Sulaiman’s Reflections on the NABF

As I fly back to Mexico after attending the North American Boxing Federation’s 48th Annual Convention in Washington D.C., I can only reflect on what this great organization has done through its rich history. The NABF was founded by boxing commissioners from Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and became the continental boxing federation affiliated to the WBC. My father’s introduction to international boxing was through the NABF, and he was NABF President for one term before being elected President of the World Boxing Council. My first official position in boxing was in public relations with the WBC, and in 1994 I was appointed by NABF president Sam Macias to serve as vice-president, and it gives me great pride to still hold the position in this great organization.
Some of the greatest world champions came from the NABF platform, which provides that stepping stone to get to the “Major Leagues.” Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr., Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and so many more heroes were proud NABF champions during their careers.

The NABF membership was composed of boxing commissioners from the three countries, and the participation of the boxing commissions of the United States was the key to have an united front to address all the topics which have made boxing safer for the athletes. Unfortunately, in 1997 things changed and a law was established in the U.S. which mandated that no boxing commissioner could belong to or be affiliated with a governing entity.\This law received the name of Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and was intended to bring justice and clarity to the sport, among other things. With the prohibition of being part of an organization, boxing commissioners of the U.S. were forced to distance themselves from the national and international activity and boxing in general lost some of the best, most knowledgeable, and honorable persons. Many things have changed since then. Today the NABF membership is by the affiliation of states represented mostly by ring officials.
I was present at the Association of Boxing Commission’s annual convention last week, and I am certain that under the leadership of it’s President, Michael Mazzulli, things will change and will find boxing commissions working closely with sanctioning or governing organizations. The WBC is

formed by commissioners from 165 countries, the NABF was founded by boxing commissioners, so it is only logical that state boxing commissions, which are the local jurisdiction for sanctioning championship fights, work in harmony and with reciprocity in agreement with the governing organizations that sanction the championship fights.

I was very happy to see IBF President Daryl Peoples present at the NABF Convention, and to see ABC President Mike Mazzulli, California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster, and former Nevada commissioner Joe Brown all in the same room participating and working together to make boxing better, to make it safer.

The meetings were full of powerful statements by guest speakers, including Patrick English from Main Events and Andy Foster. Judges and referees seminars were successful and the search for uniformity in officiating continues. There were several special moments that show how great boxing is and how it is so important to us. WBC Cares’ visit to Washington Children’s hospital was touching and the way NABF champion Oscar Cantu gave love to the kids, bringing them smiles and hope, the way Duane Ford and his son Travis Ford embraced and hugged in a priceless moment, and the way Craig Hubble and Cowboy Griffin kept all of us laughing during their interventions during the awards banquet.
Next year’s convention will most likely take place in Mexico, where the NABF family will meet again to continue the path which our founding fathers opened for this great boxing family, the North American Boxing Federation.

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