Last Friday’s Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) award ended a successful year for young boxer Samuel Takyi who went from a relatively unknown pugilist to a celebrated national icon.
Takyi did not just win an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo but added the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award at the SWAG Awards night to usher him into the professional ranks.
The youngster had every right to be joyous looking at his story from the Discipline Boxing Club at Jamestown in Accra where a young Takyi was discovered and nurtured.
It was a night boxing dominated and won most of the awards but Takyi’s future endeavour remains the most important thing that must not be joked with.
Having spent a lot of time with the Black Bombers before their departure to Tokyo, some of us know the sacrifices the likes of Takyi made to achieve the status that he enjoys today.
It wasn’t easy for him and his two colleagues – skipper Sulemanu Tetteh and Shakul Samed — who prepared for the games without any tour or international competition.
This is the reason why Takyi must be celebrated because one must be extra talented to be able to win an Olympic medal with such mediocre preparation.
His success taught me one thing: that with perseverance, you can conquer any hurdle ahead of you. Takyi was determined to make a name for himself and that made him work extra hard.
In most of our conversations before their departure to Tokyo, Takyi assured me he would return home with a medal – an assurance I found hard to believe considering the level of fighters at the Olympics.
Aside those fighters having an experience advantage, their countries take years to prepare them for the Olympics. It was thus going to be difficult to go past them with just a belief.
Rising from the streets of Atukpai to where he is today, the nation must show interest in making him a champion. The onus is on him to achieve greatness as a pro but just as David Kotei, alias Poison, and Azumah Nelson were declared national assets, Takyi equally deserves that.
Over the years, the country’s negligence had resulted in so many fighters wasting their talents. A clear example is Raymond Narh, a former Commonwealth gold medalist at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.
With a bright future, Narh missed out on the opportunity to achieve his dreams after turning pro but the country’s negligence could be partly blamed for his wasting away.
That must not happen to Takyi. He must imitate the likes of legendary Floyd Mayweather and Deontay Wilder who ruled their divisions for years after finishing as bronze medalists at the Olympics.
He can get there but Takyi would not be able to achieve that alone. He needs the support of the state to get to where he wants to be.
Discover more Takyi
Boxing has continuously proved to be Ghana’s strength in international competitions but government is yet to invest much into the sport, and that is not helping.
The talents in the sport are many in Ghana but the inability to finance their activities keeps destroying so many of them. There must be a different approach to the country’s talent discovery.
Visiting the various boxing gyms in Accra would give you an insight into the kind of talents that are within the Jamestown vicinity alone, but what are we doing to nurture these talents?
Should we continue to wait for competitions to get closer before the state will release funds for preparations? This canker must be fought by all to provide more competitions for the fighters.
It is the only way to get more Takyis on the world stage if the country is determined to continue winning laurels but with our current approach, Ghana would continue to struggle to make any meaningful impact.