Amateur boxing needs a revolution to succeed
Accra, March 29, GNA - The poor show of the Black Bombers, the national amateur boxing team at the just ended Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia has reignited debate about the criteria used in the selection of the team and the competence of the technical handlers. Some prominent boxing coaches from some of the high brow gymnasia in Accra told the GNA Sports on Wednesday that for amateur boxing to return to its glorious days, a drastic revolution must take place in the management and organisation of the sport.
Describing the lone bronze medal won in Melbourne as a "disgrace to Ghana", Napoleon Tagoe, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) rated light heavyweight boxer and proprietor of Willpower Boxing Gym at James Town in Accra said for the sport to return to its glory days, "a revolution must take place to correct the way things are done."
He said boxing used to be the flagship of any Ghanaian contingent to international competitions, but since the departure of Cuban coach Miguel, the sport had sunk deeper and deeper with those in charge of appointments not caring about the level of mediocrity that had been associated with it.
"The coaches have been in charge for over 14 years now and have not won anything and nobody thinks about doing anything about it," and wondered if the same thing could happen in football.
He said though boxing had the potential of delivering many medals to Ghana in international competitions if properly managed, all that sports administrators cared about was football, adding a football coach who failed to win three matches in a row would have been dismissed. He faulted the technique of our boxers which he blamed on their coaches, citing the boxers' way of jabbing as proof of their incapability to deliver on the big stage.
"Their jabs are short and do not go the full arm's length so in a fight, they will struggle to get to their opponents and this will make them tire early and reduce the number of punches they should throw." Tagoe said in addition to the technical deficiency, the boxers use the wrong equipment in training and indicated that the ideal thing to do was to let them train with 16 or 18 ounce gloves to toughen them instead of the contest gloves which they use at practice.
Sounding very furious, coach Ako Patterson of the Bukom Gym wondered why the National Sports Council (NSC) should reward mediocrity by retaining a technical staff which had "failed woefully to deliver." He said most of the boys who went to Melbourne did not go through any elimination series to get into the team as they were hand picked by the coaches and challenged anybody who cared to provide a platform for the "so called Bombers to fight our selected boxers and see who will win."
Coach Patterson said a close look at the performance of the boxers who went to Melbourne would reveal that most of the punches they threw were not "scoring punches" and called for a quick reorganisation of the Ghana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA) and the technical staff of the Bombers if Ghana was determined to win anything in the next All Africa Games and other future competitions.
Adama Mensah, a former African Boxing Union (ABU) heavyweight champion said it was so painful that the sport which some of them used to put Ghana on the world map had been neglected to the point that Ghanaian "boxers are now beaten like poultry chicks which fight as free range ones."
Adama who also won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1978, and an All Africa Games gold, a World Military Games gold and was one of the most distinguished amateur boxers, blamed favouritism in the appointment of coaches and the boxers for the poor state of amateur boxing.
"They know that those of us who took Ghana to higher heights in the sport are still alive and kicking and instead of them to tap from our experience, they decide to appoint people who will lick their boots and deliver nothing other than build up on the national shame. "My records as a boxing trainer with the Ghana Prisons Service, where I produced many national stars are there for everybody to see and there are many more former boxers who are ready to help stop the national shame."
He said if the current technical team had any potential, it would have materialised after a decade and half of being in the saddle, adding, "A word to the wise is enough." Despite a crack record in amateur boxing in the past, which made Ghanaian boxers the torch bearers of Ghanaian contingents in times gone by, the sport has now nosedived into the nadir culminating in the inability of the country to win anything appreciable in international competitions.
Ghana won only a bronze in the All Africa Games in Abuja in 2003 and failed to get a single boxer to the Athens Olympic Games, despite going on a training tour to Cuba before a low level final African elimination series in Botswana.
There was agitation from former boxers and coaches to revamp the technical team before the Melbourne Games but the General Secretary of GABA, Mr R.O. Lamptey and the coaches insisted that they had the aces to win gold medals and rubbished any such suggestions. 29 March 06