President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged the support of his government towards the revival of boxing and other sporting disciplines in the country, during his tenure of office.
According to him, this commitment is evidenced in the 100 per cent increase in the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Youth and Sports this year, with dedicated funds earmarked for the development of sporting disciplines other than football.
The president made this known on Thursday, March 9, 2017 when a delegation comprising the leadership of the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA), led by its Chairman, Peter Zwennes, current and former Ghanaian boxing champions, paid a courtesy call on him at the Presidency.
The purpose of the visit was to congratulate him on his election as President of the Republic and to invite him formally to the “Freedom Fight Night” slated for Saturday, March 11, at the Bukom Boxing Arena, Accra, as part of the year-long celebration of Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary.
With Ghana abounding in sporting talents across all fields, President Akufo-Addo noted: “Unfortunately, in the last few years, it has been made to seem that football is the only sport that we are good at. It is not true.
“We have had outstanding talents and champions in athletics, boxing, table tennis, amongst others, and it is about time we nurtured all the talents in our country to make it possible for people who have the ability and talent in these disciplines also to emerge.”
Recounting his association with the sport of boxing, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that it was at the funeral of his late mother, in 2004, that Freddie Blay, who was then the 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, now acting Chairman of the NPP, came across a picture of him as a young boy in boxing pose in his mother’s funeral brochure, and put it on the front page of his newspaper.
This move, the President said, drew the attention of Ghanaians to his love for and association with the sport.
“I grew up as a young boy in Swalaba and Korle Wokon. Surpriser Sowah’s gym was around the corner, and we used to spend a lot of time there. I became so addicted to the sport that, as a young boy, I gave myself the nickname ‘Kid Gavilan’”, he said.
Gerardo González, better known in the boxing world as Kid Gavilan, was a former world welterweight champion from Cuba. He was also known as the Cuban Hawk.
The President continued: “We grew up in the era of the Black Flash, the great, immortal Roy Ankrah, who put Ghanaian boxing on the world map. I saw Attuquaye Clottey and the ‘London Kid’, Vincent Okai, fight here in Accra. I was at the Accra Sports Stadium the night Floyd Klutei Robertson fought Sugar Ramos, and suffered a loss from a bad decision. He should have been our first world champion.
“Since their time, we’ve had a succession of greats, outstanding champions, and many of them are here today – D.K. Poison, Ike ‘Bazooka Quartey, Nana Yaw Konadu, Joseph Agbeko. These are people whose names should be enshrined in letters of gold in our history, because they have enhanced the image of our country.”
President Akufo-Addo, in concluding, expressed his delight at the visit, adding that he was “determined, within the means of this government, to do everything possible to support the revival and growth of all sports, and for me, particularly, the sport of boxing. Your visit is a good sign that we are all going to try and work together to revive Ghanaian sports across board”.
The President indicated that he would be present at the Bukom Boxing Arena for Saturday night’s bouts, stating: “I am going to disappoint my wife. She was going to take me somewhere that evening, but I am going to find time to come to Bukom.”
The Freedom Fight night will feature lightweight world title challenger Richard Commey in a match against Belgium’s Hedi Slimani for the World Boxing Council (WBC) International Silver Lightweight title. Fredrick Lawson will take on Jamaica’s Sakima Mullings for the WBC International Silver Welterweight title.
Bantamweight prospect Duke “The Baby Faced Terminator” Micah will also take on Jonathan “El Fenix” Aguilar of Mexico, in a 12-round bout for the WBC International Silver Bantamweight title.