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World Boxing Federation People: Max Zuniga
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FEATURE Photo: World Boxing Federation (WBF) Mexico Representative Max Zuniga.

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 the WBF People feature-series, we try to shed some light on the men and women who makes the World Boxing Federation what it is. Next on deck is WBF Mexico Representative Max Zuniga. 


Max Zuniga Lavandera was born on January 5, 1966 in Ensenada, Mexico, and lived there until the age of seventeen when he moved to Tijuana to begin his university degree as an accountant at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC).

His father passed away in 1987 when Max was twenty-one, and half-way through his education, but his mother and sister still resides in Ensenada, a coastal city locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacifico, The Cinderella of the Pacific.

While football (soccer) is the number-one sport in Mexico, boxing is a clear number two, and most males in the country have at least some kind of interest in boxing, if not an outright passion for the sport. It was no different in the Zuniga household.

For Max his interest really took off when he was around nine years old, in a time where great champions such as Alexis Arguello and Roberto Duran were on top, and Salvador Sanchez, Marvin Hagler, and Sugar Ray Leonard were making their way towards it.

He never boxed competitively himself, but Max became a student of the sport and read any boxing magazine or book he could get his hands on, and watched as many fights as possible.

Like so many other Mexicans, his all-time favorite boxer turned out to be the great Julio Cesar Chavez, who began his professional career when Max was a teenager in the early eighties.

While he was very passionate about The Sweet Science, Zuniga never had a chance to pursue an active involvement outside of being a fan, until later in life.

As a young man he focused on his education, and eventually began a successful career as an accountant, which brought him to San Diego, California in the United States, where he lived fifteen years and worked seventeen years in a management position for different companies.

These days he is back living in Tijuana, only a few miles south of San Diego, where he works for a Riverside, California company which has its administrative office in the border city.

Divorced fourteen years ago, Max has five children: Jessica (31), Miguel Angel (30) and Jose (27), who all live in Tijuana, and the two youngest Guisell (26) and Andre (23), who are based in San Diego.

It was during this his second period in Tijuana where he finally got a foot in the door for a career in boxing.

In 2009 Zuniga got his start as a judge and referee in local amateur tournaments, and quickly proved good enough to move on to the professional ranks the following year. Currently he is a judge licensed by the Tijuana Boxing Commission, and has worked more than one-thousand bouts.

Noticing Zuniga´s skills as a judge, as well as his professionalism, passion and integrity, former World Boxing Federation (WBF) Mexico Representative Sergio Sotelo eventually invited Max to become an official WBF arbitrator.

Sergio taught me a lot about the business-side of professional boxing, and provided me with great opportunities to work WBF Championship fights”, explains Zuniga.

When Sergio decided to step down from his position, it was an honor for me to be offered to take over as WBF Mexico Representative, and I happily accepted.”

In his role, Zuniga takes great pride in promoting the WBF at every level, not only with boxing people but also in the community. He is constantly in contact with promoters and managers, seeking opportunities for boxers that are very talented but have few chances to fight for championships.

He also strives to enhance women's boxing in Mexico, to bring women the opportunity to fight for titles with the same conditions and pay as their male counterparts. But all his work is done knowing full well that he is up against it, in a boxing-environment very much set in its ways.

The boxing business has changed”, says Zuniga. “The big entities want to make the most of everything, so when we in the past had one absolute champion we now have many champions in every weight class, and its no longer as much about pride and recognition as it is about making money.”

Mexico is a great land of champions, and since I was a child I remember watching some of the greatest champions such as Vicente Saldivar, Ruben Olivares, Miguel Canto, Gustavo Espadas, Gilberto Roman, Salvador Sanchez, Alfonso Zamora and many more."

"The business in Mexico is “captured” mainly by only two big promoters across the nation, and covered by the two major TV channels. We can say its a monopoly of two, where they control the majority of the big name fighters and set the tone in terms of money, coverage and opportunities.”

On top of that, the WBC plays a key role in everything I just mentioned. They more or less control and dictate who, when, where and how boxing is run in Mexico, which, along with the monopoly of 2, makes things extremely difficult.”

But, despite all this, WBF Mexico has gained some ground, and step by step we gain recognition among boxers, managers and promoters up to a certain level. Remember, at the very top only certain players are allowed...”

That being said, we have had great champions in the past, which opens the door for others and make people turn their heads our way and see us as a force with world recognition. After all, it is the boxers who make an organization great, not the other way around.”

The WBF Mexico title, as well as the North America title and the International title are all highly requested here, and the plan is of course to expand our operation to do more World and Intercontinental championship fights in Mexico.”

After all, and despite all the obstacles, Mexico is the land of opportunity for boxing, and the WBF cant be the exception to the rule.”

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  WBF People: Sergio Sotelo
  WBF People: Torben Seemann Hansen

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