Emmanuel "The Gameboy" Tagoe: Intended journeyman boxer wants to be Ghana's greatest ever

BY: Kweku Zurek
Emmanuel "The Gameboy" Tagoe

From the way he tells it, the sweet science was an afterthought and a last resort when he first decided to pull on boxing gloves for the first time many years ago in Jamestown.

Emmanuel "The Gameboy" Tagoe recounts a tale of how, he was watching his peers - upcoming professional boxers go at it when he suddenly decided that boxing was his path out of poverty.

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According to him, even when he decided to enter the ring for the first time he was billed as a journeyman (a term that means a fighter who is always “in the game,” but not typically in title contention) and not expected to last long in the sport because unlike most Ghanaian boxers he had no training as a fighter.

However, fast-forward 18 years, inject the determination and confidence of Hercules, infuse the millions of Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan and his Baby Jet Promotions and what do you get? A confident, bordering on arrogant boxer sitting comfortably at the top of the IBO lightweight division and thirsting for a unification bout with a champion from the more heralded sanctioning bodies.

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"I am the only Ghanaian boxer who was never an amateur but has ended up as a world champion," Gameboy stated proudly during a visit to the Graphic Sports last Monday.

"I was just there one day and watching some fighters exchange punches and I decided that this is what I wanted to do but even then no one rated me. I was seen as a dud and someone to help better and more talented boxers improve their records and ranking."

The Gameboy didn't stop there, he went on to earn his stripes on the now-defunct Mortein Boxing League which was then staged at the Metropolitan Television Studios in Labone, Accra.

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He hit the ground running winning all his four fights in that competition against opponents, Alfred Quaye (TKO), Isaac Aryee, Odalai Lamptey (UD) and Martin Ahiadakey (UD).

Gyan chilling out with Tagoe

Was learning the fundamentals of boxing at the age of 17 a difficult task for Gameboy? No, because according to him you can only be taught three punching styles for offence by a boxing coach i.e. the straight right, uppercut and right hook.

After learning to pull off all those three punches, Gameboy says he set about learning how to combine the boxing styles of his favourite boxers including the dominance of Azumah Nelson, the punching power of "Iron Mike" Tyson, the ringcraft and shoulder roll defence of Floyd "Money" Mayweather and the ability to trade punches like "The Greatest" Mohammed Ali.

He also admits that he benefited immensely from an apprenticeship under the tutelage of WBC Hall of Famer Nelson, adding that he would perhaps have arrived at being a world champion sooner if he had remained under the WBC Hall of Famer's instructions.

The 31-year-old is unable to pinpoint what exactly caused the breakdown in his relationship with Azumah and for the first time during the interview, he treads cautiously on a subject.

According to him, things fell apart just moments before he faced bitter rival George "The Red Tiger Ashie" on November 10, 2012, for the WBA International title. He tells of how he would have stopped Ashie if Azumah was in his corner for the fight which he won by unanimous decision.

For him, its better to let sleeping dogs lie as he respects Azumah's legacy in the sport.

That bout also had another major impact on his career because it led to an association with Gyan's Baby Jet Promotions which brought him closer to his world title hopes.

Gyan had earlier promised to manage and promote the winner of the Tagoe-Asie card and according to unimpeachable sources, the Black Stars skipper came through after buying Gameboy out of a contract with GBA second vice president Abraham Kotey Neequaye.

Tagoe poses with the vehicle he got for defeating Ashie

That association landed Gameboy a $45,000 vehicle but more importantly gave his career the financial muscle required to attain his world title hopes.

Impressive wins over Ronald Pontillas, Gerardo Robles, Sadiki Momba, Joebert Delos Reyes, Allan Kamote and Carlo Magali followed but still a world title shot evaded him.

He was then highly rated by the WBA but according to his management team, the politics of that sanctioning body contributed in the decision to move to the IBO for a title shot against South African Mzonke Fana for the vacant International Boxing Organization World Lightweight title.

South African boxer Fana braces for impact during the IBO world title fight with Gameboy 

For that bout, Gameboy not only shouldered his personal zeal to win a world title but the pressure of a nation of 20 million boxing loving Ghanaians who have gone many years without claiming a world title.

He did not disappoint and went on to claim that title dominating 43-year-old Fana at the Bukom Boxing Arena.

By that feat, he wrote the latest chapter in Ghana's boxing history by becoming the country's eighth boxing world champion joining his glorious predecessors David Kotei aka DK Poison, Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Alfred Kotey, Joshua Clottey, Joseph Agbeko and his uncle Nana Yaw Konadu.

However, Gameboy's hunger to be recognized and accepted by his countrymen as an elite pugilist was not satiated by that win as he feels his world title win was not truly appreciated.
"I won a world title that night and till date, I am the only boxer with a world title but others who are now achieving what I achieved years ago are mentioned before me by Ghanaians!".

The IBO world champion says he remains intent on ensuring that he remains peerless in Ghana boxing and has his sights firmly set on unifying the lightweight division later this year.

Indeed, so confident is Tagoe of unifying the division by the end of 2018 that he is already looking past his Argentine challenger Saucedo, who he has threatened to bludgeon into submission with his fists by round 9 come Saturday.


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