Francisco Gilberto Mendoza Remembered.
After a nearly decade long battle with cancer, WBA President Emeritus Gilberto Mendoza has passed away at age 74. I first met then World Boxing Association President Francisco Gilberto Mendoza in 1998 at the association’s convention in Bangkok, Thailand. While the “meeting” consisted of a simple handshake and cursory introductions, Mendoza’s genuine warmth and bright smile instilled a sense of acceptance in me, as well as, it appeared, in everyone else he met. It was as if you were family.
“Engineer” Mendoza was a driven man, always seeking betterment for himself and his family, and that drive carried over into his love for boxing. The Mendoza family moved from their native Venezuela to Toledo, Ohio, in the early eighties where Mendoza earned his Master’s degree. It was during that time, after several years of holding various offices within the World Boxing Association, Mendoza ascended to the presidency at the 1982 convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during a hotly contested election. He would reign for the next thirty-three years, making innovative changes in the sport along the way.
Mendoza decentralized the sport by creating regional organizations: Latin American Boxing Federation (FEDELATIN), the Pan Asian Boxing Association (PABA), the Bolivarian Boxing Federation (FEDEBOL) and the Central America Boxing Federation (FEDECENTRO), North America Boxing Association (NABA), World Boxing Association International (WBAI) and the Pan African Boxing Association (PFBA).
The controversial creation of “Super” and “Interim” championships within each weight class would follow. Mendoza would defend his vision as “A way to give opportunities to fighters from economically depressed parts of the world who would otherwise be overlooked,” much like the farm team system in baseball and other sports.
Mendoza’s creation of the WBA KO Drugs campaign was born in 1988 in an effort to utilize boxing as an alternative to drug use. Its success and longevity has been felt ever since, via tournaments held throughout the world.
During Mendoza’s tenure as president, the WBA scored other notable “firsts,” such as becoming the first sanctioning body to bring its convention to China, where the 86th such event was held in Chengdu in 2007.
During the 94th Annual Convention in Panama City this past December, citing declining health, Mendoza ceded the presidency to his son Gilberto Jesus Mendoza. The WBA board of directors unanimously voted to name the elder Mendoza President Emeritus.
FightNews.com would like to extend its condolences to Mrs. Elena Mendoza, the Mendoza and Alvarado families, as well as the WBA family.
Descansa en paz Don Gilberto.