Round 12: Mental Health
By Mauricio Sulaiman
Son of José Sulaiman – WBC President
This past November 14th marked the sixth anniversary of the creation of the WBC’s mental health program, and the World Boxing Council’s appointment to the USA Congressional Mental Health Task Force under the leadership of Congresswoman, Grace Napolitano.
That wonderful day, in which we were able to visit Congress in Washington DC, to celebrate our collaboration and support of Mental Health Awareness, stands as one of the most important ones in WBC history.
Jill Diamond, world director of WBC Cares, organized a very complete agenda for our visit, in which we had the company of great figures of the boxing world who accompanied us; legendary friends and champions as Julio Cesar Chávez, Erik Morales, Roberto Durán, Mia St John, Gerry Cooney and Ray Mancini , Alicia Ashley, Heather Hardy, Chazz Witherspoon, Karl Dargon, Demarcus Corley, Juan LaPorte, Chuck Williams , Bob Yalen, and the WBC staff. On that great day, we met with a significant number of US Senators and Congressmen, including Grace Napolitano, Nancy Pelosi, Peter King, Raul Grijalva, Gregory Meeks, Ben Ray Lujan, among others. Mental Health awareness is a bipartisan issue, one that we all support.
Mental Illness is one of the greatest threats the world faces. The WBC, through its ambassadors around the world, does an extraordinary job in supporting countless people who suffer from psychiatric and brain disorders and also those who endure the misguided actions of others that worsen their delicate conditions and inhibit the quality of their lives. One of the cruelest of these is bullying.
Bullying is one of the main actions that prevents humanity from healing. The abuse of people or groups of people stigmatizes them, hurts them and holds no limit to the damage it does. It is the cause of many suicides in the world.
Abuse, harassment, bullying, mockery and the beating of a defenseless person is an activity that permanently harms whoever is subjected to it, and now this phenomenon occurs commonly on social media: cowards cyber bullying others and deeply affecting and sometimes, ruining another’s life.
In praise, I would like to highlight and recognize some of our ambassadors who passionately dedicate their lives to raising awareness with events and activations in various parts of the world.
Mia St John, our great world champion, lost her son Julian a few years ago. Julian, a talented artist and poet, suffered from schizophrenia. After a very, painful grieving process, Mia began a tireless campaign to bring awareness and prevention to this difficult and heartbreaking illness. Mia dedicates her life to helping those in need and to guide them to the proper channels for help. She is so passionate about making things right for those that seem to have no tools of their own and, she is a great example to all.
A couple of years ago fate brought us a formidable human being, Charlie “The Hammer” Hall, a boy, now young man, who runs an extraordinary anti-bullying program in Australia.
Charlie was a victim of bullying at school for a few years until he found boxing. The sport has completely changed his life. His boxing training has taught him discipline, order, dedication and respect. He now dedicates his energy to teaching others… ‘’that nobody must be above you, and that every human being is worth and deserves respect no matter what”.
Another great story is Jesús Becerril. He is my sports godson, and he is an autistic young man who has become an inspiration for WBC Cares. Jesus has a phenomenal ability to paint and he has surprised us with various works for the WBC Conventions. The love and dedication of his parents allows him to be an example of how in life no obstacle can stop the development of the unique abilities of everyone.
Did you know that … Green is the color which represents the global campaign for mental health and is celebrated during the month of May?
Today’s anecdote … My dad told us countless times the day he overcame his fears and stopped being bullied. “I was an innocent child and people abused me at school. I was very scared and walked down the street afraid to confront them, I even usually crossed from one sidewalk to the other when I saw them coming. The most fearsome of all was nicknamed “the rat” and one day I accidentally stained his uniform and he attacked me with great anger… it was then that I instinctively defended myself and hit him. To my great surprise I gave him a tremendous beating. No one ever bothered me again “
This story has had an impact on me for many years. It is not about hitting each other. It is about using the means God gave you to defend yourself and others.
We cannot remain silent anymore, as that makes us all victims and makes us guilty. A society is judged by the way it treats the weakest amongst us. We must report abuse. We must report bullying. We must hold ourselves and others accountable for our actions.
We are proud of being a part of the USA Congressional Mental Health Task Force, and our many champions and members who have helped us worldwide in our mission of caring.