Deaths of note: Jose Sulaiman, Ruth Robinson Duccini

January 17, 2014
Jose Sulaiman
boxing official

Jose Sulaiman, the longtime head of the World Boxing Council who promoted renowned fighters and introduced rules to protect boxers, died Jan. 16 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 82.

His son, Mauricio Sulaiman, said Mr. Sulaiman had been hospitalized for several months with a heart ailment.

Mr. Sulaiman, who was born in Mexico to Lebanese and Syrian parents, boxed as an amateur but quickly turned to working as a manager, referee, trainer and promoter. He became president of the WBC, one of several sanctioning organizations for boxing, in 1975 and held the position until his death.

During his tenure, he mandated new rules regarding safety, including the reduction of championship fights from 15 rounds to 12 in 1983.

Mr. Sulaiman, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was criticized for being too cozy with U.S. boxing promoter Don King and for showing favoritism to Mexican fighters.


Ruth Robinson Duccini, seated, was the last of the original female Munchkins from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” ( Eric Charbonneau /Warner Bros. Home Entertainment via AP)
Ruth Robinson Duccini
‘Wizard of Oz’ Munchkin

Ruth Robinson Duccini, the last of the original female Munchkins from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” died Jan. 16 at a hospice in Las Vegas. She was 95.

Stephen Cox, author of “The Munchkins of Oz,” confirmed the death but did not disclose the cause.

With her death, only one actor who played one of the original 124 Munchkins in the movie remains alive.

Ms. Duccini, born in Rush City, Minn., traveled to California with a troupe of little people, and was cast in the MGM fantasy movie starring Judy Garland.

Ms. Duccini, who was 4 feet tall, met her husband while working at MGM, and the two had a son and daughter.

She worked as a “Rosie the Riveter” in Santa Monica, Calif., during World War II, using her short stature to squeeze into hard-to-reach parts of planes. She also appeared in the 1981 spoof “Under the Rainbow,” starring Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher.

In her later years, Ms. Duccini appeared at festivals and screenings celebrating “The Wizard of Oz.”

The only surviving original Munchkin is Jerry Maren, 93, of Los Angeles, who portrayed a member of the Lollipop Guild.

— News services and staff reports

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