Boxing News of Mon, 22 Jan 20189
Isaac and Paul Dogboe - A unique father-and-son bond
With many things competing for a father's money, time and energy, one must count himself lucky or blessed to have a father who spends all his time, energy and resources on him. A father-son relationship can be special, deep and memorable but sometimes cold and difficult, too.
In the case of professional boxer Isaac Dogboe and his father, Paul, their relationship is undeniably strong, exciting and rewarding.
As it is said, weak fathers make weak sons. But in the case of the Dogboes, their story and journey have taken the boxing world by storm and their father-and-son affair is deeper than the one famously declared by legendary Azumah Nelson after his epic victory over Australian great Jeff Fenech many years before the younger Dogboe was born.
Isaac joins a list of famous sportspersons who had to maintain a strong relationship with their fathers both at home and in their careers, with daddy either coaching or managing them, or performing both roles.
And in such relationships, one requires strong shock absorbers to contain a father’s strict glare at home and professional instructions at the workplace.
For Isaac, a buddy-buddy relationship developed with his dad over the years enables him to take such management in his stride. Despite being a generation apart, mutual respect and companionship define the exciting story of the Dogboes.
Sports is replete with remarkable stories about fathers who identified the talents of their children in various sporting disciplines, developed them to their full potential and successfully managed their careers, fame and wealth to become global icons.
Among the famous examples are American Richard Williams who, three decades ago, identified and coached his daughters, Serena and Venus, to become the most successful family in world tennis, with the Williams sisters boasting a combined 30 Grand Slam titles and fortune in excess of $260 million.
Similarly, American golf icon Tiger Woods owes part of his greatness to his late father, Earl, who coached and managed him exclusively during his early years on the golf course.
Same can be said of retired boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jnr, one of the sport’s biggest earners, whose father, Floyd Mayweather Snr, is credited with training him and teaching the boxer his famed defensive skills which made him a world title holder in five divisions.
No one better exemplifies the important roles of fathers in their children's careers than Ghana's soccer maestro, Abedi 'Pele' Ayew, who first identified and developed his talented sons -- Rahim, Andre and Jordan -- and guided their journey into professional football. To date, Abedi continues to inspire and manage his sons' careers in Europe.
And many years down the line, Azumah is giving practical expression to his famous father-and-son mantra by training Azumah Nelson Jnr to ensure that his legacy is carried on by his son.
Dogboe is the new kid on the block who early this month defeated Mexican Cesar Juarez before a capacity crowd at the Bukom Boxing Arena to win the WBO Interim Super Bantamweight title.
At 23, he became the youngest Ghanaian to wear a world title and the victory offered him an opportunity to face another Mexican, Jessie Magdaleno, for his WBO Super Bantamweight title later in the year.
Known in boxing circles as the 'Royal Storm', Dogboe credits his father, trainer and manager for his quick rise to the top of his career, taking his ring record to 18 victories in as many fights (including 12 knockouts).
The youngster’s rise to the top has come through a lot of sacrifice to the father who quit his job in the British army to invest in his son’s talent and dream.
“I have my father with me; he does everything in my favour. He works his time around me. When I started boxing, he did all the work while I concentrated on my studies and sport,” recalled the boxer as he walked The Mirror through his career from the United Kingdom to his relocation to Ghana three years ago.
“He’ll go to work at night, return at dawn and wake me up to go for a run, and then I prepare for school in the morning. When I’m back from school, we go to the park straight to train,” he said.
So strong is the boxer’s belief in his father’s abilities that he will never trade him for any big-name boxing trainer anywhere in the world.
He narrated to The Mirror how he agreed with his father that they should try using other trainers, but it did not work for them.
“After all, it is said that if it doesn’t break you don’t have to change it,” Dogboe says proudly of their winning formula.
For Paul, whose ambition of becoming a professional was halted by his father who disapproved of his chosen path, Dogboe’s burgeoning career is nothing but a fulfilment of his failed dreams.
“Sometimes I say to my son, ‘If I wasn’t a superstar, it’s your time to achieve that’,” Paul said as he spoke fondly of his son with whom he has a very close relationship.
“We set goals and timelines for ourselves to be a champion and we’ve managed to achieve that within this time frame.
“What I couldn’t achieve as a failed boxer, I can instil in Isaac. And so far, things are falling into place.”
Dogboe advanced through the amateur ranks in England, winning his first Jr Novice Amateur Boxing Association tournament within his first year of boxing. He went on to win several Amateur Championships in the UK.
“I told him to give me four years of his life and I would ensure he goes to the Olympics, and this I did in less than three years. Indeed, he went for the Summer Olympic Games in London at age 17 in 2012 as the youngest participant.”
With this first target met, Paul set another goal for his son to become a world champion by age 25. Two years short of that benchmark, Dogboe is already close to becoming a legit world champion if he annexes the WBO title held by Magdaleno.
For instance, David Kotey ‘Poison’ won Ghana’s first world title at the age of 28, Azumah claimed Ghana’s second world title when he was 26 years old. Nana Yaw Konadu became world champion at age 25, Ike Quartey was 25 years when he won Ghana’s fourth world title, and Alfred Kotey annexed Ghana’s fifth world title at age 26.
Others such as Joseph Agbeko won Ghana’s sixth world title when he was 27 years, and Joshua Clottey added his name to the list by winning Ghana’s seventh world title at age 31.
Even though they may be a generation apart, the Dogboe’s maintain a very strong bond, which helps Isaac to deal with challenges associated with adolescence and his chosen profession. “My dad keeps reminding me that I have younger brothers who look up to me so I cannot afford to go wrong. When I’m doing something wrong, he’s there to advise me,” he pointed out. “My dad and I, we talk about everything – from girls to dreams to… everything.
“It’s not an old school versus new school kind of thing,” he added.
Maintaining their kind of buddy-buddy relationship ensures open communication between the two, and enables Paul to offer his son the appropriate counselling to keep him motivated with his feet on the ground.
“I teach him what girls can do to his career and to his money. He has to be taught all the stages of life – moral, physical, financial, spiritual, among others.
“He keeps me going because of his humility. He motivates me and I trust him so much that he would do the right thing even when I’m not around,” Paul added about the mutual respect that exists between the two.
The journey to stardom has not been all hunky-dory for the youngster, particularly combining schooling with the regimented life of a sports star.
The eloquent boxer admitted that combining academic work and boxing was not easy but he strived hard to complete his lessons in school.
“Usually, from school, I go to the park with my dad to train, and then return home afterwards to do my school work. One activity must not suffer. I believe in sacrifices so I manage my time carefully,” he indicated.
Young as he is, Dogboe does not allow his peers to distract him. “I concealed my boxing exploits from them for a while until one day, a mate of mine came to the classroom with a newspaper that had me in it. They were all amazed and happy, and the teacher who was having a lesson at that time made a photocopy of the news page and distributed it to all the students,” he said and laughed heartily.
Aside from being a trainer and manager to his son, Paul, who is Ghanaian/British, once served as a boxing coach and a physical instructor in the British Army. Until he left the army in 2016, he was also an electrical mechanical engineer in the Territorial Army of England.
He has trained many talented boxers such as Dillian 'the villain' Whyte and Dean Byrne, and worked with many Boxing Hall of Fame coaches such as John Pops, Jessie Reid Sr, Buddy McGirt and other coaches from Cuba and England.
When Paul is not in the gym or at his son’s corner directing affairs during bouts, he loves to travel around for sightseeing.
The Dogboes are both members of the Church of Apostles Revelation Society (ARS), and this explains why hundreds of ARS members trooped to the boxing arena with their brass band to cheer one of their own.