Ilham Aliyev received participants of 55th Convention of World Boxing Council

03 october 2017, 13:00

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today received a delegation of the Baku-hosted 55th Annual Convention of the World Boxing Council (WBC).

The delegation led by President of the World Boxing Council Mauricio Sulaiman included presidents of the European Boxing Union, North American Boxing Federation, British Boxing Board of Control, as well as former WBC champions Evander Holyfield, Kostya Tzyu, Yuri Arbachkov, Vitaly Klitschko, Nino Benvenuti, Carlos Zarate, Azumah Nelson, Bernard Hopkins, and the WBC champion, Jelena Mrdjenovich.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in his remarks:

- Welcome to Azerbaijan. I am very glad that Azerbaijan is hosting a meeting of your Convention. As I noted at the meeting with the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, we have discussed this issue and said that to hold this Convention in Baku would be a good idea. He contacted you and you made the decision. The fact that Azerbaijan hosts such a prestigious event attended by such famous people is very encouraging. Legends of world sports are in Azerbaijan today. I think that for many of you this is the first visit to our country. You will stay here for a few days and, therefore, get more information about our people and country. Of course, the Convention being held in our country is an important event for those who know you, who watches your meetings and victories on television. Once again, welcome to Azerbaijan. I wish the Convention success.

The head of the World Boxing Council, Mauricio Sulaiman, said:

- It is a great honor for us and a very joyful fact. We have come here from many countries of the world and traveled great distances. Since the very moment we arrived in Azerbaijan, in Baku, everyone has greeted us with a smile and everything has been wonderful. The legacy left to you by your father is an incentive for all of us. By means of sport, you have created a new world, a new country that has achieved a great success. This pleases us, and we are grateful to you.

The WBC is the most influential boxing organization, and boxing is a very important sport all over the world. Azerbaijan has made great strides in amateur boxing competitions, and in the near future we want to lay the foundation for the process of training a world champion in professional boxing from Azerbaijan. The attitude of our champions, their actions serve as an example, because boxing requires loyalty, love of sports and self-sacrifice. In order to become a great leader, you have used exactly these qualities. Therefore, the meeting with you thanks to our hero Vitali Klitschko, who has played a major role in organizing this reception, is a great honor and a very joyful circumstance for us.

President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Thank you. Thank you very much for your kind words about our country. I am very pleased that all of you will spend several days in Azerbaijan. This will have a positive impact on the development of boxing in Azerbaijan. As you noted, we have good athletes in amateur boxing competitions. This year, one of our boxers has won the title of a three-time world champion. We also won medals in boxing competitions at the Olympic Games – we were awarded bronze medals. I think there is a potential for our boxers to become professionals because boxing is a very popular sport in Azerbaijan. In general, the development of sport in Azerbaijan has been very successful.

I saw you at the event marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the National Olympic Committee. Indeed, we have done great work and organized such an important sporting event in Azerbaijan as the first European Games because all other continental games had been repeatedly held, for example, American, Asian and African games. But the European games had not been held although the Olympic movement originated here. Thus, the first European Games were organized here two years ago. This year, Azerbaijan also hosted the Games of Islamic Solidarity with the participation of thousands of athletes. A few days ago, the Women's European Volleyball Championship was held in Baku. Our team was very close to winning medals and finished fourth. Of course, other sports competitions have been held, including the city circuit of Formula-1. Our results at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were great. At the Summer Olympics in Rio, we won 18 medals and finished in 14th place in the world for the total number of medals. This is a great achievement for a country with a population of 10 million people which restored its independence only 25 years ago. Every time famous athletes come to Baku, we witness the development of sport.

I am quite sure that after your visit, many children will enroll in sports clubs and sports teams to become as famous as you.

Mauricio Sulaiman said: All of them deal with the kids in clubs, visit schools, orphanages, communities and always teach the principles of fair play, sports and how to become a perfect person. I am proud of our fighters – they are heroes not only in the scale of their countries but also globally. The attention of the whole world this week is focused on the capital of boxing – Baku. We are very happy and grateful to you. Your hospitality is an example for many in the world.

President Ilham Aliyev: Many thanks. After a successful career, well-known athletes become successful businessmen and politicians. Vitali is a very successful mayor. As for me, I took this post after the Olympic Committee, as 20 years ago I was president of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan and was elected President of Azerbaijan only after six years. So, I also represent sport and am a member of your family.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Azad Rahimov, said that the world champions participating in the event would visit orphanages in Azerbaijan and meet with children. He noted that various programs were organized for the guests in Baku. The Minister also spoke about the work of the 55th World Boxing Council convention being held in Baku.

Mauricio Sulaiman said: The Convention has been held in the world for 55 years now. We have held this Convention in many countries. Everyone we have talked to agrees that Azerbaijan is the place where the event has been held in the most hospitable and beautiful manner. If you, based on the example shown – the sports facilities of Azerbaijan seem to be a different world – give us such an honor and opportunity to start work, then we, the board and WBC champions, are ready to commit ourselves to the development of professional boxing in Azerbaijan. There are good athletes with a wide soul in Azerbaijan who can become world champions. We are sure that in no more than three years Azerbaijan will nominate its first world champion in professional boxing.

President Ilham Aliyev: I will provide support for this. I think that with your support, it can be organized jointly with the ministry because boxing is very popular.

Speaking then, world champion Vitali Klitschko said:

- Mr. President, I want to say a few words. First of all, this is a very authoritative event. As WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has said, everyone is happy. There is a great atmosphere. The attention of the whole world is focused on Azerbaijan. Journalists from various parts of the world are covering this very important event on a global scale. The current event is very unusual because a meeting of the Convention is being held in a country where there is no world boxing champion for the first time. I am sure that with the help of your infrastructure and such a great team – I was impressed with the development of infrastructure – and with the help of the WBC, it will be possible to train good boxers and such world stars as Evander Holyfield in Azerbaijan very soon.

Emphasizing the great role of sport in the formation of the younger generation and the development of society, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- In Azerbaijan, we always say that the younger generation should be very active in sports because sport means discipline and dignity. Sports develops kind feelings in people. A real athlete will never attack someone weaker. I mean athletes such as boxers, karate fighters and wrestlers who are physically very strong. The behavior of famous athletes is a good example for the younger generation. In our country, I always try to support our athletes because they deserve it. They win medals, raise our flag and are also an example to the younger generation. Sport is the best means to attract the younger generation to good deeds, take them off the streets, drugs, alcohol, bad habits and crime. Unfortunately, on the eve of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and in the first years afterwards, many athletes were engaged in illegal activities because of absolute chaos, poverty and anarchy. Therefore, after being elected president of the National Olympic Committee in 1997, I set myself the goal of bringing people back to sports, and so it happened. Today, athletes are very respected people in Azerbaijan. The government provides them with bonuses and big benefits. As part of government-level campaigns, we not only demonstrate how they fight, but also their conduct and attitude towards the younger generation. Indeed, sport has a major influence on education and public health. You do what you do not just for sports, you do it for the sake of the planet and the world. Your family is multiethnic and multi-confessional. As peace-loving and, at the same time, very strong people who are always able to defend themselves and others, you use your strength and fighting skills for good deeds. You demonstrate how the world should act. Therefore, I want to congratulate you. I hope that we will meet in Baku again in the future.


Then President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva were presented with WBC champion belts as a memorable gift in recognition of their support to boxing.