FEATURE: Samuel Takyi chases gold but the real prize lies within

BY: Bernard Neequaye

During our first conversation following his qualification to the Tokyo Olympics, Samuel Takyi was confident he would win medal in his maiden appearance at the hallowed games.

I was intrigued by his conviction knowing how little Ghana invested in athletes for the Olympics. Yet despite suboptimal preparation, Takyi has made Ghana proud.

On Sunday, Takyi entered the medal rounds with a victory over Colombia’s David Ceiber in the quarter-finals. Gold is now a possibility—at the very least, Takyi will take home the bronze. No matter the outcome, he is bringing home Ghana’s first Olympic medal in 29 years. That’s a great achievement for a 20-year-old who came from seemingly nowhere to earn a spot on the Black Bombers squad and qualify for the Olympics.

Takyi has the talent to become a world champion in the professional ranks. Yet, potential means nothing if it isn’t properly harnessed and exploited. The decisions Takyi makes after the Olympics are key. Here are a couple tips his proud kinsman would like to share as that day nears:



Work Harder
Proper planning plus hard work brings success. Takyi’s run thus far is as a result of his tireless work in the gym. Yet so many factors can derail goals. One of them is complacency.

Takyi’s Tuesday’s semi-final bout is a dangerous one as he faces highly touted American Duke Ragan. Finishing with a bronze medal is commendable, but if one aims for the sky, one will at least fall on top of trees. Those who aim for the trees land on their rear ends.

“I am very happy to have achieved this feat at my very first Olympics but the work continues because winning gold for Ghana remains my target,” Takyi told Graphic Sports from his base in Tokyo.

“That is the promise I gave to Ghanaians and I have to fight for that. I am hopeful that I can get past my American opponent on Tuesday and that is exactly what I am working towards.”

No doubt, Takyi is determined to make history for himself and his country. As long as he continues to put in the kind of work that has brought him here, he has a great chance to upset the favourite, Ragan. But no matter the result, Takyi has already earned a spot in the history books of Ghana.



Turning Pro

Takyi informed me that he would consider turning pro after the Olympics. Whom he signs with could make or break his career. Here is where he must be very careful. Success, they say, has many friends. Hence, I’m not surprised so many are praising Takyi’s achievement. Yet that is where the danger lies. As the Bible tells us, “a person who flatters his neighbour is spreading a net for him to step into.”

Many managers and promoters seek to prey on innocent fighters. Sadly, our African warriors are typically easy targets. I won’t be surprised if Takyi decides to sign a lucrative managerial deal after the Olympics but I believe he needs to be guided in making such decisions so we don’t lose this talent and, more importantly, he doesn’t lose himself.

Errol Spence Jr. was the most sought after boxer following the 2012 Olympics. After careful consideration, he cut his list of options to two: Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions and manager/advisor, Al Haymon.

Arum enticed Spence with a six-figure bonus in dollars. However, Spence’s father thought otherwise, advising his son that while the money looked good today, Haymon’s offer – though without signing bonus – would cost him far less and be worth much more in the future.

Spence listened to his father and chose Haymon. Today, Spence is the undefeated, unified world welterweight champion. He’s made close to $20 million in his last two bouts and could make another $20 million in one bout when he faces Manny Pacquiao on August 21.

Sadly, most boxers see the dollar and lose their minds—and, ultimately, lose their souls. Takyi must be guided away from these pitfalls. In all of this, I believe one thing remains paramount  and that is the technical team of the Black Bombers which consists of head trainer Kwasi Ofori Asare and Vincent Akai Nettey. These wise men will be able to advise young Takyi as the vultures circle.

So in closing, I wish to congratulate Takyi on his tremendous achievement. I wish to remind my brother that more, so much more, awaits if he heeds the lessons history provides.