Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council is pictured at a news conference in Jan. 2009. Sulaiman died on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 at the age of 82. (Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES (USA Today) -- Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) since 1975, died Thursday in Los Angeles, where he had been hospitalized since October with a heart condition. He was 82.
His son, Mauricio, confirmed his death.
Sulaiman, an omnipresent figure in the sport, was voted "president for life" during the WBC's annual convention in November.
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He spent his life in boxing, first fighting as an amateur before becoming a trainer, promoter, referee and judge, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where he was enshrined in 2007.
But his fame came as an administrator. He joined the WBC in 1968 and was elected president of the sanctioning body Dec. 5, 1975. He served in that capacity until his death.
Under his leadership, the WBC instituted many rules and regulations regarding boxers' safety and welfare, foremost among them reducing world championship bouts from 15 rounds to 12. He also moved the official weigh-in to 24 hours before each bout and created intermediate weight divisions and the World Medical Congress. The WBC also introduced the attached thumb glove and funded brain injury research at UCLA. During Sulaiman's tenure, the WBC sanctioned more than 1,100 title bouts and 300 boxers won world titles. Sulaiman expanded the WBC's global reach to 161 countries.
"He certainly treated all fighters as his sons and daughters; he suffered from their problems and worked every single day of his life to try to make boxing better and safer," the council said in a statement.
Sulaiman spoke seven languages and also operated a successful medical supply company in Mexico, where he was born the son of a Syrian mother and Lebanese father.