MAURICIO Sulaiman, the president of the World Boxing Council, wants to be remembered as a man for the boxers. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MP PROMOTIONS

It was getting rather late but Mauricio Sulaiman was still up and about.

As he and several others took the cramped elevator en route to his lavish suite, Sulaiman performed a few magic tricks that he had learned from Muhammad Ali, something that made the short ride up entertaining.

When Sulaiman opened the doors to his room, there was clutter everywhere.

Select merchandise consisting of pamphlets, magazines, patches and every other knick-knacks you could think of littered the floor and the long table was stacked with souvenir items he had acquired within 24 hours of his Manila stay.

Even the comfy sofa had items that had just either been bought or offered to him as gifts.

On top were several crucifixes that were artfully designed and wrapped in thick plastic, the vast majority of them would end up in the hands of his loved ones.

“These are for my brother and for my sister,” Sulaiman told Liza Elorde, the daughter-in-law of the late, great ring legend Flash Elorde, referring to the precious religious items he had bought during a visit to the Manila Cathedral the day before.

“Every time I travel, I pay extra for extra luggage,” the globe-trotting Sulaiman said.

Just halfway through his visit, Sulaiman’s room was looking like a bodega and by the time of his departure, he would have probably needed an airport luggage train to haul his things down.

Born in 1969 in Mexico City, Mauricio Sulaiman is the current president of the World Boxing Council (WBC), the boxing body widely recognized as the premier governing body for the sport.

The son of Jose Sulaiman, who reigned as WBC president for almost four decades, Mauricio was elected as president following the death of his father in 2014.

At first, the senior Sulaiman didn’t want him to dip his fingers into the fight game.

Holding a top post in the family-owned business — the manufacturing of medical equipment exported to Mexico, Central America and even the United States — Mauricio admitted that he and his father would find themselves arguing.

“He would say that I stay in the company and don’t get too much in boxing and then ten minutes he would call me up and say, ‘Hey can you please call Don King or Mr. (Akihiko) Honda or Bob Arum, and tell them that make sure this and that should be done.’”

“So, a few days after I got elected, I realized that I cannot continue with the company at all and it would be a complete disaster, so I told my sister to cover (for me). Sometimes I still get involved but most of the time she is the one running.”

Since assuming the post, Mauricio has traveled extensively, tirelessly promoting the sport and relentlessly showing boxing’s positive side through innovations and looking after the welfare of the champions who have long since retired.

Mauricio cited ex-super-featherweight titleholder Rolando Navarrete, who works part-time at the General Santos City fish port.

“He is not doing well,” Mauricio said, looming forlorn upon personally seeing the fighter once dubbed “Bad Boy from Dadiangas.”

“His life outside the ring was not the best, it is sad.”

Troubled by the sight of Navarrete, Mauricio said he would be “going to petition to grant support to him” when he returns to Mexico City where the WBC is based.

“We always look after the boxers during and after their glory years. Because you see, boxers simply don’t know anything else but boxing.”

“The champions, the great champions and when they retire it is a new life for them and we try to be as close as we can with them. We have been trying to educate them, guide them and support them and always keeping them in the limelight because they were heroes.”

Navarrete was just one of over a dozen Filipino WBC champions, including Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire, Luisito Espinosa and Erbito Salavarria.

Excluding Pacquiao and Donaire, who have been doing well, many others have not been so lucky and it was at this time when Mauricio became a bit emotional.

“Every successful person was given an opportunity somehow. And those who didn’t end up well didn’t have an opportunity to study. So many people not to have a job and you find them on the streets doing other jobs.”

“There are also so many people that don’t appreciate what they have. And do not give back in any way. The more you have the more you want. It is greed. The more you have, the higher you are according to you looking down on people,” he said, adding that “injustice, discrimination and abuse of power” are the things that make him cry.

“One of the great things I have learned from my father and who taught us children: You never look up to anyone. You don’t look up to a king and you never look down on anyone. Treat everyone with respect and give anyone the time they deserve. You answer every letter, phone call, message regardless of from wherever it is coming from.”

“Always respond.”

On the lighter side, Mauricio reveals that when he is not immersed in boxing, “I play the drums.”

“I also enjoy watching football, the NFL (National Football League) and baseball and cherish spending time with my family, my wife, my kids, my mother, sister and brothers.”

But those times don’t come by often.

“Whenever I have free time, I (still) think about boxing,” he said with a hearty laugh.

And that’s exactly why the Philippines, one of the WBC’s 11 founding members, has a cherished relationship with the boxing body, something that Mauricio puts on a pedestal.

“The Philippines is so deeply engrained in the WBC. Founding member and its second president was Justiniano Montano, a Filipino and the one who wrote the constitution — Rodrigo Salud — a Filipino.”

“We also had so many Filipino WBC Board of Governors,” said Mauricio, who studied high school in Massachusetts before earning a degree in business management at the Technological Institute of Mexico.

As time passed and the seconds turned into minutes and the minutes into almost an hour, Mauricio downed the fancy class of single malt whisky that he had poured himself.

So did the reporter right in front of him who was in a mad rush to finish the piece for the Sunday deadline.

And before they parted ways, the scribe paused and glanced at Mauricio and had one more question.

“And how would you like to be remembered?”

“I would like to be remembered as a good person, honorable, caring, easy-going, a good friend, loyal and dedicated, hardworking, passionate and a man for the boxers,” he said calmly.

And a decent human being.