Ghana has produced 10 world champions with eight of them being unearth and groomed from Bukom, the hub of the sport in Accra, Ghana.
They are WBC featherweight champion David Kotey Poison in 1975, WBC featherweight and super featherweight ‘Professor’ Azumah Nelson in 1984, WBC bantamweight champion Nana Yaw Konadu in 1989, WBA welter weight champion Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey in 1994, WBO bantamweight champion Alfred Kotey (late) in 1994, IBF bantamweight champion Joseph ‘Fresh King Kong’Agbeko in 2007, IBF welterweight champion Joshua ‘Grandmaster’ Clottey in 2008, IBO lightweight champion Emmanuel ‘Game Boy’ Tagoe in 2016, WBO super bantamweight champion Isaac ‘Neho’ Dogboe in 2018 and IBF champion Richard ‘Azonto’ Commey in 2019.
With the exception of ‘Marvelous’ Konadu from Sunyani and ‘The Royal Storm’ Dogboe who was based in the United Kingdom, all the champions were home groomed.
The hub for boxing in Ghana is Bukom and James Town, where most young boys at age eight upwards wish and want to become world boxing champions.
Some of these kids want to quit education and get to the numerous boxing gyms scattered all over to train.
They want to become like their idols whose pictures and posters are painted in the neighborhoods.
Two of such kids are 7 year old Prince ‘The Buzz’ Larbie of the Will Power Gym and 13 year old Hakeem Lokko of the Bronx Gym.
Incidentally both fathers of their kids are boxing coaches. The experienced Carl Lokko is former trainer of former world champion, Richard Commey, while interest and enthusiasm got Nii Larbie into the game when he realized he could not become a professional boxer. He decided to train his son who has the talent.
These kids train and go to school. In fact only a few of the juvenile boxers took education serious until the Ghana Amateur Boxing Federation (GABF) and Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) decided that all juvenile boxers must be in school or they will not be allowed to participate in the innovative ‘Bukom Fist of Fury Boxing Amateur League & Pro Championship’.
Talking to Prince Larbie who started visiting the gym at age 2, he said his ambition is to become a world champion at 18 years. “I want to become Ghana’s youngest world champion by 18 years” he expressed.
Hakeem Lokko said time will team, and he only has to train to become perfect and extra skillful. Receiving an invitation to go to the USA to join Joseph Awinongya Jnr, the seven time USA Junior Olympic Champion have motivated him not to look back, than aim at his goal.
These young boxers have the love for the game, they train hard under weird conditions believing that they would be an opportunity to become champions and heroes.
Already, they have fans and supporters, like the Ghana Boxing Supporters Union (GBSU) who are out to motivate all Ghanaians who want to become world boxing champions.
However getting the links and contacts to be rated in the world ranks and attracting managers and promotes is not easy at all, as one has to be media friendly, be internationally linked and possess a good financial backbone.
It was not for nothing that the government of the day in the 1970s supported the first champion, D.K. Poison who blazed the trail, and even took a loan from his purse.
Very recently Team Issac Dogboe also confirmed the backing from president Nana Akufo Addo in his comeback bout after he lost his WBO title 14 months ago.
Ghanaian boxers have always appealed for well resourceful managers and promoters to sustain them to reach the top, where they can break the big cash.
Mr. Michael Annan of Dons Promotions is one of the surviving managers who want boxers to gain respect financially, so he makes his shows well attractive, and believes corporate bodies must invest and support the sport.
The government of Ghana has not done much for boxing as all sports budget allocations go to football.
The Bukom Boxing Arena inside the Trust Sports Emporium is very expensive to hire for boxing events, so boxing in Ghana is not what the rising stars hope for.
The media in the country also focus mainly on football until there is an attractive boxing bout before they report on the pugilistic sport that has awarded the nation three (one silver and two bronze) medals out of the four Olympic medals since 1952.
The Covid-19 pandemic made things worse for the boxers as there were no promotions, so their hope is only on only God to make a way.
Two boxers, Samuel Takyi (18) and the skipper of the national boxing team, Suleiman Tetteh have already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games. They are sure of making it to the medal zone and maintain the status quo that Boxing is the number one sport in Ghana that have brought laurels.
Coach of the Black Bombers, the national boxing team, Dr. Ofori Asare feels Tokyo 2020 will be a place to struck a medal in boxing once again.
But despite the odds there are still hopeful for for Ghana Boxing. The young kids, who are the stars of the future will bring the hope and must attract the much needed funds to get the game going.