Boxing gymnasiums, youth employment and economic devt
Boxing has a long history of being a ‘man's’ (or woman's) sport for the underprivileged. Unlike most sports, where participation expenses are considerable, boxing has typically been a low-income pastime
For Ghana in particular, boxing has put the country on the map whenever the country’s passion, football, has failed to bring happiness to the numerous followers.
But more can be done.
To boost the local economy and give the majority of the youth a sense of purpose, boxing trainers and stakeholders must offer a gym and reasonably priced equipment such as a boxing ring and pads, body protection/chest guard, double end bag, elbow pads, face-boxing header, gloves, hand gauze, jumping rope, kick stand, punching bags, among other kits, at their facilities, which are always situated in low socio-economic neighbourhoods.
These facilities further create opportunities for the promotion of sport, fitness and health in areas that are not regularly exposed to these acts.
Boxing helps many young people climb out of poverty and find work, which helps the economy thrive.
It teaches the youth skills and virtues such self discipline and hardwork, which are needed for them to be sports champions and role models, and also helps in national development.
Some young people may not have the opportunity to develop skills and principles that will help them excel not only in boxing but in life.
As a result, the boxing gym and trainers serve as an additional family and support system, and it is always a welcoming and supportive environment for many.
The Bukom magic
Aside from fishing, Greater Accra communities such as Bukom, Chorkor and James Town have boxing as a secondary economic activity for mostly the youth.
Such is the popularity of boxing in Ghana that it comes second to football in terms of patronage.
In the not too distant history, Ghana was synonymous with football and boxing. Among the comity of nations, Ghana was held in high esteem when it came to boxing. And we have a hall of famer in the person of “Professor” Azumah Nelson, who was inducted in June 2004 by the World Boxing Federation.
Boxing is more than just a sport; it applies to all facets of life.
In Ghana, acclaimed fighters are looked up to by society for survival, progress and mentorship. Professional boxers' achievements and prize money have had an impact on the society in which they reside.
For example, following his second title defence against Shigefumi Fukuyama in Japan in 1976, Ghana's first world boxing champion, David Kotey Poison alias D.K Poison, was asked by the then-military government, led by General Kutu Acheampong to lend the state his fight purse in order for the state to purchase mackerel during the economic downturn.
According to the boxing great, he was only paid $34,000 out of a total fight fee of $75,000.In 2020, President Nana Akufo Addo reimbursed D.K. Poison the difference of $45,000 on humanitarian grounds.
Following that, subsequent world champions such as Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey and Alfred Kotey also used their world titles to not only bring respect to the nation but also enrich the lives of their dependents and the communities in which they train.
Boxing also impacts families. One can glean this from the grass-to-grace phenomenon in the lives of former World Champions Azumah Nelson, Nana Yaw Konadu, Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Joseph Agbeko, Isaac Dogboe, and their immediate families when they won their world titles.
Most of these world champions have established gyms/organisations where young boxers are mentored and trained to become professional fighters who can support themselves and their families.
This has become a standard practice in the Ghanaian society, where prized fighters look up to for survival, development and mentorship.
In the next edition, I will examine how the intervention of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) through the construction of the Bukom Boxing Arena at Bukom in the Greater Accra Region can be maximised.