Complex not befitting of my name — Azumah

BY: George Ernest Asare
The run-down state of the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex

Three-time world boxing champion, Azumah Nelson, has advised the country’s sports authorities that he would be better off if his name was removed from the Kaneshie Sports Complex than for the facility being left in its current poor state.

The boxing icon’s complaint was borne out of the deterioration and total neglect of the facility named after him a decade ago, in recognition of his immense contribution to Ghana sports as the most celebrated boxer who was inducted into the exclusive International Boxing Hall of Fame in the US.

A livid Azumah, who at different times held the WBC featherweight and the WBC super featherweight titles during an illustrious career, said the deplorable state of the multi-sports facility had no connection with the sport for which he was honoured in 2004, and it was also the clearest indication that the sports authorities had no respect for him as a celebrated boxer who achieved so much for the nation.

“If you respect somebody and you think the person has achieved a lot, you don’t name such a place after him,” lamented Azumah, who will next week launch his biography in Accra.

“I am always embarrassed anytime I visit the sports complex named after me, and none of my family members want to go near the facility due to the manner in which it has deteriorated.” 

He said it was time the facility was given a facelift that was befitting of his status, or else the authorities better erased his name off the facility to save him  from further embarrassment.

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Comparing the facility to others named after important dignitaries elsewhere, the legend said monuments named after dignitaries whose achievements were well known were maintained  and turned into tourist attractions.”

Azumah’s manager, Yaw Sakyi Afari, explained to the Graphic Sports that the icon was concerned that the facility had little or no connection with boxing, such as images of Azumah or simple boxing facilities, thus defeating the purpose for which Ghana’s foremost boxer was honoured.

Built in the 1970s during the era of the Supreme Military Council led by General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex is a multi-sport facility originally fitted with a tennis court, handball court, a mini Olympic-size swimming pool and a football field.

Until recent years, it was the venue for a majority of local and international boxing events before the facilities deteriorated into the present sorry state which has seen parts of the football field and handball courts overtaken by weeds, and is flooded anytime it rains heavily.

Worse, Azumah’s name which was boldly inscribed at the entrance of the complex is conspicuously missing.

During a recent visit to the once revered facility, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mahama Ayariga, announced that the government would soon give the complex a facelift after years of neglect, with the Field Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces tasked to execute the project.