On a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP), the Media Centre at the Accra Sports stadium came alive as six young boxers from the Wisdom Boxing Club/Gym demonstrated their skills in what is popularly referred to as the “sweet science.”
Wednesday, 6th April 2022 happened to be the first time Ghana was formally celebrating the IDSDP and participants were in awe of the prowess exhibited by the youngsters. In a land known for producing top world boxing world champions, it was evident to the audience the future portends well for the youngsters on display.
Moreover, the country recently recorded its first medal in 29 years at the Olympics when boxer Samuel Takyi grabbed a priceless bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics – in the process he won Africa’s only medal in men’s boxing at the Olympics.
Ghana has been blessed with some top boxing world champions in the past including the legendary D.K. Poison, former WBC featherweight champion Azumah Nelson, former WBA Welterweight champion Ike Bazooka Quartey and Nana Yaw Konadu, to mention a few.
There have been several attempts to unearth new boxing talents, particularly in the Ga Mashie area in Accra. Ghana’s foremost coach in amateur boxing Ofori Asare has been one of the leading voices in this area.
He says he established the Wisdom boxing gym “to provide equal learning space for all interested in learning the sport of boxing through free boxing lessons, ‘boxfit’ programmes and boxing at your doorstep.”
Boxing was given pride of place at the first-ever International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP) at the Accra Sports stadium.
Under the tutelage of legendary coach and founder of the Wisdom Boxing Club/Gym, the boys jabbed and kept a solid defensive rearguard to begin the drill.
Then came the instruction to switch to cross-counter-punching which saw the youngsters unleashing cross-shots in two-three combinations.
One particularly boy in a blue shirt and trunks caught the attention as he showed little to fear against his opponent who was an older boy, maybe two or three years ahead of him. The older boy tried to show his seniority by unleashing some hard punches as his younger opponent recoiled into his defensive shell – a smart move because he was clearly at the disadvantage both in height, reach, and power. The two other pairs of boxers appeared equally matched and executed the drills to perfection.
In between the sessions, Ofori Asare, a renowned African Olympian, sought to allay fears that boxing is a dangerous sport.
“Boxing is a scientific art,” he said, before adding, “Boxing is not as brutal as many think it is. There is a referee who sees the correct application of the rules and regulations in boxing. There are skills to be learned and our boxers learn the skills very early so it becomes part and parcel of them.”
Coach Ofori Asare then instructed the boys to counter jab with three-four combinations. Oh, the scene was a beauty to watch as the boys changed gear, counter jabbing with several combinations.
Coach Asare further commented on the importance of combining schooling and sports for one to achieve his/her aims in life and career.
“Our boxers are all schooling. One of them is at the Presbyterian Senior High School, Sacred Heart Technical School at Jamestown, John Wesley Methodist School and St. Mary’s Anglican School. Some have also graduated to the tertiary level over the years,” he announced to the audience.
The next statement by Coach Asare caught the eye as he sought to highlight the power of sports as an agent for social change and community development and to promote sustainable development.
“Sports can change your life. One person’s life can change an entire nation. There was a time one boxer’s money was used to support the economy of Ghana. That is D. K. Poison. For instance, if Floyd Mayweather was to be in Ghana, he would have contributed a lot to the economy of the nation and changed the community where he grew up. This is likely to change things for the better.”
There could have not been a better way of summing the theme for this year’s global theme of the IDSDP which is, “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport.”
The celebration was organised by Strategic Engineering Experience DriveAfrique (SEEDAFRIC) Liquid Sports Ghana (LSG) and Women in Sports Network Ghana (WISNETGH).
The event was attended by a representative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Deputy Director Sam Korsah, Head of the Culture Sector, UNESCO Office in Accra, Carl Ampah, a University lecturer Dr. Ernest Acheampong, Chairperson Mr. Richard Acheampong, Managing Director of Rokmer Pharma Ltd, 3-time Paralympian Raphael Botsyo Nkegbe, boxing coaching legend Ofori Asare, the former Black Stars duo of Rev. Awuley Quaye Jnr and Godfried Aduobe, pupils and teachers of three Junior High Schools, among others.