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World Boxing Federation People: Sergio Sotelo
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FEATURE   Photo: World Boxing Federation (WBF) North & Central American Chairman Sergio Sotelo from Mexico.

As is the case with any organization, effective and professional team-work behind the scenes is necessary to make the World Boxing Federation (WBF) run as smoothly as possible. Thankfully, the WBF has been able to attract a line-up of very astute boxing personalities to make sure of this.

Most people will agree that boxing should mainly be about the boxers. They deserve the spotlight and the accolades more than anyone, but it is still a fact that the sport needs qualified and capable people working behind the scenes to make things happen.

In this WBF People feature-series, we try to shed some light on the men and women who makes the World Boxing Federation what it is. WBF North & Central American Chairman Sergio Sotelo is featured in this the second edition.


The oldest of five siblings, Sergio Sotelo grew up with his parents and four sisters in Tijuana, Mexico. With boxing being Mexico´s second most popular sport, only behind soccer, Sergio idolized the likes of Ruben Olivares, Salvador Sanchez and Julio Cesar Chavez, but was not allowed by his parents to box himself.

Born in 1960, he was instead encouraged to play team sports, so he took up basketball and Track & Field, representing his high school and university in local, state and national tournaments. But he never let go of his fascination with boxing, despite his parents trying to keep him away from the sport.

They didn’t want me to box, but I bought two pairs of boxing gloves anyway and invited friends to my house. We moved all the furniture in my room, and just went at it until we got tired”, says Sotelo (56), laughing at the memory from his early years.

While he obtained a bachelors degree in biochemistry in the mid eighties, Sotelo has spend most of his professional life working in sales with various telecommunication companies. In 2003 he decided to get into professional boxing as a booking-agent, making fights abroad mainly for Mexican fighters.

Its a very tough business, so you really have to love boxing and keep working towards your goals”, explains Sotelo, who also briefly managed a couple of world class fighters.

Later on he was inspired by his uncle, acclaimed international judge Enrique Sotelo, to get into professional boxing as an official. His involvement with the World Boxing Federation started by coincidence:

I was comunicating on Facebook with the WBF Vice President, whom I didn’t know at all. After a few days of chatting about boxing, he told me that he was impressed with my boxing knowledge and offered me to be part of the WBF as its Mexico representative.”

After doing a bit a research, I quickly accepted his offer when I realized that its a great sanctioning body that wanted to get a fresh start without all the corruption and greed that so many other sanctioning bodies are known for.”

Sotelo was later promoted within the WBF to the position he currently holds. He still regularly acts as a judge, and it was in the role of WBF supervisor in which he experienced what he calls his favorite moment in the sport:

Howard Goldberg (WBF President) appointed me to supervise what turned out to be Evander Holyfield´s last world championship fight, when he defended his WBF world Heavyweight title against Sherman Williams in West Virginia back in 2011.”

It was a great honor to meet “The Real Deal”, as well as other legendary former world Heavyweight champions in attendance that night, such as Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis. It was just a great experience, one I will never forget and always cherish.”

With boxing being such a big sport in Mexico, and with so many legendary fighters and current world class operators being from Mexico, it is obviously a huge market for the sport. And when asked for his opinion about the current landscape in Mexican boxing, it sends Mr. Sotelo into a bit of a rant:

Soccer is the most popular sport here, boxing is second. We have never won the world cup in soccer, but we have had more than one hundred world champions in boxing, if I am not mistaking. But boxing here is controlled and polarized by two main TV networks, TV Azteca and Televisa."

At the moment, only two promoters are getting the TV dates on those networks, and therefore also all of the money in Mexico.”

The rest of the promoters, some of them very good promoters for a very long time, have to rely on what is left as far as smaller TV networks, limited sponsors etc. in order to stage their shows and support the careers of many very good fighters that don’t have the backing of the two main promoters.”

Here is where the World Boxing Federation in Mexico is working, with promoters who have a genuine love for the sport, people who most of the time lose money, or break even at best, on their shows but still continue on.”

There are a lot of good up-and-coming fighters with these smaller promoters, who are waiting for things to change in Mexico so that national networks open the opportunities for all promoters to get financial backing, instead of only giving it to two promoters.”

But, honestly, its been very difficult to work for the WBF in Mexico, mainly because in America, in general we have all of the four major sanctioning bodies here.”

The one based in Mexico has used many political tactics to discredit our work here, by advising local boxing commission presidents and promoters not to work with us, going on national TV back in January of 2013 to ridicule our work.”

It was said that we are a paper organization with paper belts, and that our president conducts his business from his garage. Well, our President conducts business world-wide, travels constantly to new countries, opening many doors around the world for the WBF.”

If that is a garage President, then I want to become one myself!”

There are people under upper management command who have tried to obstruct our work in Mexico, and some of my officials get very frustrated because of the injustice and ask to talk to the press to set things straight.”

But my advice to them has always been the same: The best way to defend ourselves is by doing the job right, professionally and ethically. That is our strength! We are a non profit organization who wants to bring respect and dignity back to boxing, the rest is just politics, greed and corruption.”

All this being said, Sotelo has still done a wonderful job for the World Boxing Federation in his country. Some very good male WBF champions have been crowned since he joined, but especially on the female side, where many of the worlds very best come from Mexico, has WBF titles been won by top-of-the line boxers.

Over the years, in Mexico we really have had some great WBF female world champions”, explains Sotelo. “Jessica “Kika” Chavez, Ana Arazola, Irma Sanzhez, Susana Cruz, Karely Lopez and Isabel Millan were all WBF world champions, and currently we have Mayela Perez.”

Female boxing in Mexico is very big. Fans appreciate all the effort, will and tenacity that women bring, and which is sometimes missing from male boxing.”

Females don’t make as much money as their male counterparts, but in general they train harder and give 100 percent in the ring with some very exciting fights which the fans appreciate. And there are many up-and-coming female boxers here, soon to make their mark, and the WBF will be here to support them.”

Sergio Sotelo is very passionate about boxing, male and female, and he really wants to help the sport he loves. He has proved already that he is not a quitter, and with him at the helm in North & Central America, the World Boxing Federation is in good hands.

Sotelo still lives in Tijuana with his wife Martha Raquel, a bachelor in business administration, with whom he has two daughters: Claudia (20) and Alejandra (16). A proud father, he makes a point of praising them for doing very well academically, in university and high school respectively.

As they continue on in life, If they are taking after their parents, they are almost certain to continue to make him and Martha Raquel proud.

  WBF People: Torben Seemann Hansen

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