FEATURE: Boxing, Ghana’s underdeveloped jewel

BY: Bernard Neequaye

I cannot fathom why the state continues to neglect boxing despite the sport’s immense contribution to raising the image of Ghana at international sporting competitions.

Boxing continues to dominate Ghana’s medal table at the Olympic Games. Four of the nation’s five medals at the global sporting event were won in boxing. Ghana’s first ever medal at the Olympics was won by boxer Clement Quartey at the 1960 Games in Rome, who took home the silver.

The late Eddie Blay followed Quartey with a light welterweight bronze medal at the 1964 games in Tokyo. Then Prince Amartey clinched a middleweight bronze during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Twenty years later, the Black Meteors won a bronze medal in 1992 at the Barcelona games. Since then, the nation has struggled to make a significant impact at the Olympics, typically sending more observers than the athletes.

But just when Ghanaians had given up on hearing the nation’s national anthem at the hallowed games,  Samuel Takyi emerged to win the Ghana’s fifth Olympic medal, bringing home bronze at the just-ended competition in Tokyo.

Takyi’s featherweight medal did not just end a 29-year Olympics drought for Ghana. It proved that, with the right investment and preparation, Ghana could win more medals in boxing.

Investment + Preparation = Success

Despite barely any investment in the Black Bombers from the government, boxing once again brought Ghana glory with its sole medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This achievement proves that the raw talents are there. If properly cultivated from the amateur ranks, boxing can bring the nation more prizes than a game show, including the coveted gold.

The operative word there is “amateur.” That is where the focus must lie.  

Two months ago, former Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) president, Moses Foh-Amoaning, inaugurated a national juvenile boxing team with Charles Quartey as their trainer.

I was impressed with this innovation. The state should intervene by investing in this squad so it can reap the needed medals at the next Olympics in France in 2024.

Sadly, the idea of investing in something promising is alien to us. There is an old saying which tells us that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. If this is true, then Ghana has lost it.

Want proof? President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently launched a move to raise $25 million for the Black Stars participation in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroun.

No one is against investing in football. But the over-investment in a sport, which has produced little, is being done at the detriment of other sporting disciplines such as boxing. Boxing has produced multiple world champions and nearly all of our international sporting glory. Imagine the gains some investment in this sport might produce.

The sad truth is that the nation has nothing to show for all the money it had invested in the Black Stars over the years. In 2019,  the then-Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah, announced to Parliament that the state spent $4.5 million on the Black Stars participation in the AFCON in Egypt.

And what were the fruits of this investment? The team failed to go beyond the Round of 16 stage of the tournament. If we give the talented, young boxers of Ghana $4.5 million, I have no doubt, they will bring home more gold than Mansa Musa ever had.  

When parents discover their child’s talent, they channel their energies into  it, using everything at their disposal to help that child reach his\her maximum potential. And so it is with the nations of the world.

Jamaica example

One example is Jamaica. The nation recognised their potential in track and field and thus focused their energies there. The fruits of their labour are there  for all to see. Similarly, China concentrates on table tennis and badminton, Kenya on long-distance running; the list goes on.

With Ghana breaking its dry spell at the Olympics through boxing, it’s imperative that the nation focus on the sport to produce more benefits. This can be done through a proper, deliberate, state sponsored juvenile and amateur boxing league system.

I am not advocating that the other sporting disciplines must be neglected. But there should be fair and equal allocation of resources to the other disciplines, particularly boxing, where our strength is.  

Samuel Takyi’s success should be a wake-up call to Ghana. The nation has four years to prepare for the 2024 Olympic Games in 2024. It’s time for us to use our heads to get a head start.