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The  writer
The writer

Boxing in Ghana - One of the untold stories 

 Boxing enthusiasts of old (oldies) would recall that in March 1963, an announcement was made on Radio Ghana and in the daily newspapers to the effect that one Lieutenant Eddie Hammond of the Second Battalion Arakan Barracks had caused the postponement of the Commonwealth Featherweight Championship match between Ghana’s Floyd Klutei Robertson and Britain’s Johnny O’Brien, the British Featherweight contender for one week.


Ghana television was not in existence then, but the popular voices that were constantly heard on Radio Ghana were that of Robert Owusu, John Hammond, Amamoo and female broadcasters at that time – Vida Koranteng Asante, Beatrice Eshun and Lily Whitaker.

Member – Ghana Boxing Board of Control

I was made a member of the Ghana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) headed by Air Commodore De-Graft Hayford as chairman with Colonel Slater, G.W Amarteifio, Lawyer Allotei Cofie, O’Hara Davis and Roy Ankrah as members. 

I had then returned as a newly commissioned Army Officer after two-and-half - years of cadet training in the United Kingdom (Two years at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS)) I had earlier had six months of cadet training at ROSTS-the offspring of present Ghana Military Academy.

My coursemate was General Odartey-Wellington. 

However, my other contemporaries at Sandhurst were General Fred Akufo, General Robert Kotei, General Edward Kwaku Utuka, General Emmanuel  Erskine, and General Roger Felli. 

My mates who are alive and kicking are Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah and Col. Kweku Adade.

 As a cadet at Sandhurst, I won the Academy Welter Weight Championship belt and the Welter Weight Championship of all the universities in the United Kingdom that Sandhurst competed with for the period of two years (1960-1961).

Preparation for championship fight

Preparation for one of the first major international boxing tournaments staged in Ghana was between Klutei Robertson and Johnny O’Brien of Scotland, the leading Contender for the Crown.

 Having been tasked by the GBBC to bring Klutei Robertson into shape for the Championship fight, I got him accommodated at the 2Bn Officers Mess at (Arakan Barracks) next to mine. 

 I lined up a team of some good boxers at that time to assist in the training of Klutei. Names of those I can recollect are Aaron Popoola, Steve Akushe, Joe Destimo, Alhassan Brimah and Osei Renner and coaches like Attuquaye Clottey, Corporal Allotey, WOII Spider Iddi (Physical trainer), and others that I cannot fully recollect.

(I am 87 years old now as I share this event). I also secured the Signal Regiment’s Gym for the assignment given. Everything went on smoothly – early morning run, including shadow boxing and skipping, etc. Then in the evenings, from 4 pm-ring work i.e., sparring skipping, punching bag, etc. followed by other physical training. 

The drawback 
We always returned to the mess after the day’s hectic and intensive training only to meet a lady carrying a baby and a basket of food, mostly Ga kenkey with Okro soup or stew – the Boxer’s favourite dish. Klutei will consume the food and drink a lot of water and/or beer. This, of course, rendered the day’s training fruitless, as he had four to five pounds extra weight to shed a few days before the fight.

 Although he was in perfect shape, his weight was a major problem for the training team. We were very much concerned, so WOII Iddi and I took him to the then Ambassador Hotel for a Turkish bath but a day before the official weigh-in, the GBBC were equally concerned about his weight.

 The Board, therefore, took a decision that I should find an excuse for the tournament to be postponed for a week, hoping that the extra days would help him make the required weight of nine stones (9st). I informed Johnny O’Brien’s camp that the weigh-in would take place at the Accra Turf Club, while in actual fact the venue for the medicals and the weigh-in was to take place at the Sports Hall of the Accra Sports Stadium - (plan hatched to get the tournament postponed).

 At the Sports Hall, I told the Clerk of the scale to set the scale to read 9st, which he did and then ordered Klutei to stand on it. Before then we knew that Klutei would not make the weight, a secret that we thought O’Brien’s camp didn’t know but apparently, they were aware. (Eeeeh boxing spies).

When Klutei stood on the scale, the clerk shouted 8st 13 Ib and all of us with one ACCORD repeated 8st 131b followed by drumming by the Bukom guys. 

A few minutes passed, and then O’Brien’s camp angrily arrived stating that we had deceived them, but the clerk of the scale told them Klutei Robertson had already weighed in. O’Briens team became furious and requested Klutei to be weighed again so they would confirm but we responded that Klutei had already drunk water (Flimsy excuse, wasn’t it).

After chatting with Karry Gibbs, a British international referee, who was assigned to the tournament, it was finally agreed that the fight be postponed for a week. 

The postponed match 
 On the newly agreed day for the fight, we took Klutei once again to the Ambassador Hotel for the Turkish Bath early in the morning. Later in the morning before the weigh-in, Klutei managed to make the weight in the ring. 

The fight in the ring

Klutei looked cheerful when the bell rang for the first round. He was okay leading, bobbing, jabbing and weaving – all to the admiration of everyone in the stadium but by the eighth round he looked sorrowful.

 He had slowed down tremendously.

 He asked his corner men to throw in the towel but they refused. However, by the tenth round, he looked exhausted and miserable. Why should the fight be stopped in the presence of Ohene Gyan, the Ministers of State and other dignitaries?

 Finally, by the 10th round, the referee walked to Klutei’s corner for a few seconds, turned around and waved indicating that the fight was over. Jonny O’Brien was so happy, somersaulted and thanked everybody. After the fight, I saw and heard very little about Klutei.

 The last time I heard of him was his fight in New Mexico.

 This time he did not lose the fight because of his weight.

 That time, it was because of the Mexican altitude – the thin air of the Mexican high ground.

The writer was  a former Mayor of the Accra City Council , now Accra Metropolitan Authority and a former  Chairman of the Ghana Boxing Authority . Phone :   0544715193

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