FEATURE: Ringcraft Promotions and the making of world champions

Author: Bernard Neequaye

Promotional outfits in boxing play vital roles in the success of a boxer. However, inadequate funds hinder their quest to organise more shows on a regular basis in the country.

The whole boxing promotion thing needs passion and financial clouts to drive it, making it a very difficult venture. Many successful businessmen usually invest into it to give talented fighters the chance to succeed by becoming world champions.

In recent times, Box Office Sports Promotions, Landmark Promotions, Baby Jet Promotions, Rising Stars Africa Promotions, Cabic Promotions among others have put together shows in a bid to help local boxers attain international status.

It is in this light that the famous Ringcraft Promotions stands tall among all boxing syndicates in the country having produced three of Ghana’s 10 world titlists.

Ringcraft Promotions is known for helping the legendary Azumah Nelson attain stardom in boxing and beyond. However, they shaped Nana Yaw Konadu and Ike Quartey’s career by making them world beaters.

“It was formed solely to help shape Azumah Nelson’s career into becoming a world champion. The aim was achieved but they later added Nana Yaw Konadu and Ike Quartey and made them great too.

“They ended up making three Ghanaian world champions out of the rest and I think they have been the most successful promotional syndicate in the country,” Yoofi Boham, former manager of Ike Quartey told the Graphic Sports.

Despite attaining many successes with these fighters, the outfit faded out after failing to add more world beaters which offshoot into the recent Landmark Promotion and Management Syndicate.

The Genesis

Founded in the early 80’s, Ringcraft Promotions came into being purposely to help transform the career of Azumah Nelson by three personalities namely, Dr Oko Kwatekwei, Seth Ansah and John Kofi  Kermah.

The aim was to sign Azumah on from Sikaprix Promotions, which was owned by former Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) boss, Samir Captan and to draw him closer to the world title.

It was the desire by Ringcraft to link up with promotional kingpins such as renowned American promoter Don King which convinced Azumah to join them.

Azumah’s departure from Sikaprix was based on the quest to have immediate recognition at the world stage as well as the inability of the two parties to agree on financial issues.

“It was one Henry Weglo, a pub owner at Mamprobi who introduced Azumah to his US-based business partners John Kermah and Seth Ansah which led to the formation of Ringcraft Promotions.

“He saw interest in making Azumah great having witnessed his potential and after discussions, the duo teamed up with Dr Kwatekwei to form the famous Ring Craft Promotions and the rest was history,” noted Peter Zwennes, President of the GBA.

With Ringcraft on board, Azumah manoeuvred his way out to defend his Commonwealth featherweight title against Zambia’s Charm ‘Shuffle’ Chiteule and won a 10th round technical knockout.

It was their first business with Azumah and it paid off. The leadership of Ringcraft ,however, managed to secure him a world championship fight with WBC champion Salvador Sanchez in July, 1982 which he lost but gave a good account of himself.

Azumah’s impressive performance against Sanchez was noticed by Don King who in turn offered him another shot at the world title against Wilfredo Gomez two years later only for the Ghanaian to triumph and win the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight belt.

“He was determined to make it in the sport and he achieved that through hardwork. Azumah proved to everyone that he was ready to take on the world,” Mr Boham said.

After the victory, he went on to defend his title 13 times before moving up to lightweight to fight Pernell Whitaker. The rest was history for Azumah.

Adding more fighters

The popularity of Azumah in Ghana and beyond made Ringcraft famous internationally which required they help more Ghanaian fighters to become champions of the world.

Nana Yaw Konadu, a flyweight professional fighter was their target and they snatched him in 1986. Ringcraft first major fight for him was against Albert Musankabala and he delivered a knockout win.

“The difference between Ringcraft Promotions and our promoters now is that, they had financial clouts and connections and that really helped them.

“They were taking fighters abroad for training programmes which helped build the fighters capacity. We don’t see those things now because our promoters now lack the capital to do that,” Mr Zwennes explained.

Three years after their relationship, Konadu became a world champion after earning a unanimous decision victory over Gilberto Roman in Mexico City in 1989 to win the WBC super-flyweight crown.

Konadu went on to become a two-division world titlist in super flyweight and bantamweight respectively.

In 1990, Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey joined the Ringcraft stables as he looked to follow the footsteps of compatriots Azumah and Konadu in becoming world champions.

His signing with Ringcraft was described as bizarre by many boxing enthusiasts at the time because he was contracted to Yoofi Boham.

“It was a bad incident and I normally hurt when i recounted how they took my boxer from me without any compensation,” said Mr Boham.

“I remember my wife picking up the contract and trying to stop a planned African championship bout for Ike. At the end, we had to let it go but I am glad he became successful in the end.”

Quartey got his chance in 1994 against Crisanto Espana and became Ghana’s fourth world champion. He completed Ringcraft’s story as the most successful boxing syndicate in Ghana.

“Ringcraft managed to get the best out of its boxers at the time. Their champions reigned for long unlike we have now but I believe that has to do with the commitment of the individual boxers,” Mr Zwennes said.

In Ghana’s history, Ringcraft remains the best promotional boxing outfit to have graced the sport but failed to continue with the good work after the careers of Azumah, Konadu and Quartey.

However, Anthony Kermah, son of John Kofi Kermah, a member of Ringcraft continued the legacy of his father with Landmark Promotions which is yet to produce any exceptional fighter.