My thoughts returned to November 2013, just before President Jose Sulaiman was about to enter UCLA Medical Center for his anticipated surgery. I expressed my love and appreciation to Jose and wished him my very best. He could see through my words the concern I had for his entering into such a serious surgery. He replied “My dear friend Duane, I will be alright.” There has not been a day go by since that I have not thought about Jose and offered my personal prayers in his and his family’s behalf.
Recently, Mauricio sent me the above photograph of his father and me. It gave me pause to reflect upon the many years of working as a judge.
I thought about the times Jose took me by the hand and taught me to love and respect the fighters, and to work as an official with honor. I remembered the correction course he often gave me to help me improve my skills. Often, these lessons were painful because I had not made the correct decision. However, I was always grateful that he cared enough to take the interest in my personal development. I soon realized as a young judge that his belief in my abilities was much greater than my own.
He has always been an icon, and a figure of strength and dedication to the sport we love. And now, he is an example of the heroic spirit and his love for his family and for the WBC. Jose taught me the importance of scoring a championship fight correctly. In that sense, I am scoring his battle against this illness a perfect 10.
From the bottom of my heart, I say, “Thank you Jose, for setting the example for all of us.”