For an umpteenth time in my almost two-decade career, I sadly have to revisit this subject and this time around it’s an emergency. The national amateur boxing team, the Black Bombers, have less than a week to participate in the next African Championships in Cameroun and as is almost always the case, the team is in non-residential camping.

The team’s itinerary is such that after the African Championship which will be held between June 13 and 22, there will be hopeful final Olympic Qualifiers then the Africa Games in the first quarter of 2024, after which there will be the Olympics.

By the daily routine, the boxers attend the regular training schedules and get all the drills and strategy sessions from the technical team only to return to their respective homes on a daily basis. And only God knows what happens when these boxers are at home without any strict monitoring or camp rules for rest and physical shake-ups.  

That practice must never be encouraged for a team that aspires to win medals at the African Championship and also maintain the tradition of saving face for the nation eventually at the Olympics.   

This competition is expected to give the boxers rankings to place them in good stead for the Olympic qualifiers which will be decided on after the International Olympic Committee and the International Boxing Association (IBA) iron out some technicalities and differences.  As a reminder, boxing is the same sport that saved Ghana’s image at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo with Samuel Takyi’s bronze medal feat. Takyi‘s name and three others will forever remain gallant and relevant in Ghana’s sporting history because they remain the biggest achievements on the medal table for Ghana.

The late Ike Quartey (Snr) won his light welterweight silver medal at the Rome 1960 Games which was also Ghana’s first ever at the games. The late Eddie Blay followed with a light welterweight medal in 1964 in Tokyo, Prince Amartey of blessed memory won bronze in Munich in 1972 and recently Samuel Takyi, who emerged as Ghana’s only medalist from the Tokyo 2020 event. So the fact is that did not only save Ghana’s image at the 2020 edition but at the previous three events.

My observations at training sessions 

The technical team led by Coach Ofori Asare and the boxers are showing commitment and are onto their respective duties when called upon. However, they do not have training kits. Individuals appear at training with their own kits. As a result, nothing in terms of the optics shows that a national team is training. The psychology of kits communicates unity of purpose, discipline and order.

The use of the DG Hathiramani Hall for training is not always guaranteed because it’s shared by the Badminton and Table Tennis federations. Recently I had to follow the national team to the Wisdom Gym owned by Ofori Asare. This is one of the many sacrifices made by the coach over the years.  Not just him but the President of the Ghana Boxing Federation and his vice. They use personal funds for many of these endeavours. These three are not the only operatives within organized sports who are using their personal resources to support national assignments.

The lack of residential camping is also affecting the effective monitoring of the boxers. As a result, it becomes an impossible task to properly measure their conditioning, skill and mental soundness. Some of these boxers don’t have decent accommodation on a regular day and are exposed to the varied stimulus from their immediate environments. These concerns were captured aptly by Coach Asare when I had a conversation with him.                                                                                     

“There are so many things we cannot do because we do not have the boxers at our disposal. For instance, if I want to check the resting heart rate of the boxers I cannot get them. This is very important,” Ofori Asare told me on one of my visits to the team’s training.

Wahid Oumar - The two-time Commonwealth medalist whose presence provides inspiration for his new teammates

There is a female contingent within the team who are looking forward to making history and making a case for female boxing in the country. I spoke to Fairuzah Osman, a young girl from Nima in Accra who has abandoned a football dream to pursue her new love – boxing. She tells me about her motivation drawn from the coaches and senior colleagues.

“We want the President, the Sports Minister and the Second Lady to come to our aid. We are ready and will deliver. All we need is support. We realize the First Lady supports football so we are pleading with the Second Lady to support amateur boxing,” she said.

On the brighter side of things, Black Bombers have daily physical inspiration from their colleagues Abraham Mensah, Wahid Omar and Joseph Commey who won a bronze each and silver respectively and are breaking their backs just like everyone else to make the grade anytime they are called upon.

There is an undeniable fact that boxing is Ghana’s most successful sport at the developmental and professional level. Ten professional boxing world titles, four Olympic medals and a number of medals from the African Championships and other competitions at the amateur level are achievements which are priceless and must get us as a collective to turn a head and channel resources there. 

Interestingly media reportage about

The clock is ticking for the organization of the biggest Multi Sports event in Paris and another moment of reality will stare us in the face. Nations are used to starting the preparation once an Olympic Games event ends. In other words, the nations expected to answer the role call in Paris would have started their preparations and would have built a certain level of form by now. Most boxing nations resort to training tours of specific strategic nations to build their boxers up.

The Youth and Sports Ministry has agreed to foot the $70,000 bill for Ghana's participation in the African Championship, according to the Ghana Boxing Federation President, Bernard Quartey. But we need to be sound preparation-wise.

What are we waiting for? The nations that dominate at the multisport events only do so because they invest in proper preparation. We don’t need to be told all this because we do know.   

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.