Nelson Azumah

Other NamesNelson
Date of Birth1958-09-19

Detailed Biography

Azumah Nelson 333

Pro Record: 39-5-2 (28 kayos)

Azumah "The Professor" Nelson was born on September 19, 1958 (some say July, others claim earlier) in the newly independent Ghana. A country that was under the strain of political uprisings.

Azumah grew up in the harsh enviroment of the Bokum province of Ghana. Fighting was a hobby it was a way of life for the children of the region. In Bokum kids are allowed to fight on the streets as long as they were the same age and used no weapons. Outsiders knew about the kids from Bokum, and even if you were a talented fighter, you did not mess with the kids from Bokum even if you were older. They could fight. Like his father, Azumah wanted to box, and he truly believed he could beat anyone. He tried on several occasions in the streets, but was led into the gym to face the best boxer at the time. The boy beat him silly, but that did not matter, Azumah kept coming back and eventually was able to take on the man with success. That is when he began to train as a boxer.

After going 50-1 as an amateur and a Commonwealth championship as a featherweight - Nelson picked up gold in the featherweight division at the Edmonton games in 1978. After this success he turned professional and within 10 fights he was the holder of the Ghanaian, African and Commonwealth belts. He went 13-0 to start his pro-career. In his 14th fight as a pro he showed the stuff that spawn legends as he stepped up against the legendary WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez. In rough and rugged fight, Nelson fought valiantly against Sanchez going toe to toe with the champion, but was stopped in the 15th round. It turned out that was the great champions last fight as Sanchez was killed in an automobile accident 22 days later. He was 23 years old and had earned a career record of 44-1-1 with 32 KOs. With Sanchez's death, the boxing world was in shock. The WBC title was won by Juan La Porte on September 15, 1982 and made two successful defenses before losing the title to Wilfredo Gomez on March 31, 1984. This set up Nelson's second chance at the WBC crown.

Since his historic fight with Sanchez, Nelson went right back to his winning ways by winning six straight fights before facing Gomez. Nelson did not fail in his second attempt as he hammered Gomez eventually stopping him in the 11th round. Nelson would rule the featherweight division for the next three years, until he relinquished his crown to move up to super-featherweight.

Nelson would go on to win the WBC super-feather title in February 1988 when he won a disputed decision over Mario Martinez. He then defended 3 times, including a rematch with Martinez whom he stopped in the 12th. In 1990, he made an attempt to move up to lightweight, but was easily out pointed by Pernell Whitaker. Since his super-feather belt were not at stake he moved back down and went on to face such competition as Jeff Fenech (twice), Gabriel Ruelas, and a draw to Jesse James Leija.

It looked as if time had finally caught up with Nelson as he lost a rematch with Leija in his next fight. Leija lost the crown in his next fight as well to Gabriel Ruelas. Ruelas looked like the new dominant figure in the division, but tragedy struck when Ruelas defeated Jimmy Garcia and Garcia died of head injuries a few days after the fight. A distraught Ruelas entered the ring after taking a lay off against Nelson, who was then considered a safe opponent. The safe opponent stopped Ruelas in the fifth. It seemed Nelson wasn't as washed up as thought as he stopped Leija in the 6th. Nelson would lose his next two fights to Genaro Hernandez and a fourth meeting with Leija. Nelson would then call it quits and would return to Ghana

While Nelson was winding up a spectacular career, ending with a record of 39-5-2 (28 KOs) and a championship record of 18-4-2, another young man from the Bokum province was about to take his step as well. Ike Quartey was not as popular as Azumah, but he came up in the same tough streets that Nelson did. Quartey was also a great amateur from Ghana, just like Nelson and came up training in Nelson's gym.


Azumah is known in boxing circles as 'The Professor' because of his ability to teach his opponents a boxing lesson,

His craft and power still see him widely regarded as the greatest fighter to ever emerge from the African continent. Nelson, who has been called the greatest African boxer of all time, quit the sport at the age of 40 with a record of 39 wins, five losses and two draws. Nelson won a swag of titles over his superb 20-year professional career, including British Commonwealth and African featherweight titles, and WBC featherweight and super-featherweight crowns.

More than half of his fights were world title contests and he had a draw and victory in bouts against another triple world champion, Australian Jeff Fenech.

Nelson has retired and vowed not to make a comeback.
"I am not the type of man who says one thing today and turns back on it tomorrow," he said.

Nelson has also been told he can expect to become the first African inducted into the international boxing Hall of Fame.
During his 19-year professional career, he stopped 28 of his opponents within the distance, recording a total 38 wins, four losses and two draws. Among opponents he beat were Mexican Marcos Villasana, Mario "Azabache" Martinez, Australian Jeff Fenech,and Briton Jim McDonnell. His four defeats were at the hands of Pernell Whitaker, Jesse James Leija (twice) and Genardo Hernandez.

His Record

 1979 1 Dec  Billy Kwame             Ghana           W8 

2 Feb Nii Nuer Ghana KO3
3 Mar Henry Sadler Ghana KO9
(Won GHANA 126 lb. Title)
17 Apr Henry Optoki Ghana KO8
4 Jul David Capo Ghana W10
13 Dec Joe Skipper Ghana TKO10
(Won African 126 lb. Title)

24 Feb Bossou Aziza Togo W10
2 May Don George Ghana KO5
18 Aug Miguel Ruiz California TKO3
26 Sep Brian Roberts Ghana TKO5
(Won Vacant British Comm. 126 lb. Title)
4 Dec Kabiru Akindele Ivory Coast KO6
(Retained African & British Comm. 126 lb. Titles)

28 Feb Charm Chiteule Zambia KO10
(Retained African & British Comm. 126 lb. Titles)
26 Jun Mukaila Bukare Ghana TKO6
21 Jul Salvador Sanchez New York LK 15
(For World & WBC 126 lb.Title)

31 Oct Irving Mitchell New Jersey KO5

12 Feb Ricky Wallace Ohio W10
17 Aug Alvin Fowler Nevada TKO2
23 Sep Alberto Collazo Ohio TKO2
23 Nov Kabiru Akindele Nigeria KO9
(Retained African/British Comm. 126 lb. Titles)

9 Mar Hector Cortez Nevada W10
8 Dec Wilfredo Gomez Puerto Rico KO11
(Won WBC 126 lb.Title)

6 Sep Juvenal Ordenes Florida KO5
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)
12 Oct Pat Cowdell United Kingdom KO1
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)

25 Feb Marcos Villasana California W12
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)
22 Jun Danilo Cabrera Puerto Rico KO10
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)
13 Dec Aaron Duribe Ghana KO6

7 Mar Mauro Gutierrez Nevada KO6
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)
29 Aug Marcos Villasana California W12
(Retained WBC 126 lb. Title)

29 Feb Mario Martinez California W12
(Won WBC 130 lb. Title)
25 Jun Lupe Suarez New Jersey TKO9
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)
10 Dec Sydney Del Rovere Ghana TKO3
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

25 Feb Mario Martinez Nevada TKO12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)
5 Nov Jim McDonnell United Kingdom TKO12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

19 May Pernell Whitaker Nevada L12
(For IBF/WBC 135 lb. Titles)
13 Oct Juan LaPorte Australia W12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

16 Mar Daniel Mustapha Spain TKO4
26 Jun Jeff Fenech Nevada D12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

1 Mar Jeff Fenech Australia TKO8
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)
7 Nov Calvin Grove Nevada W12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

20 Feb Gabriel Ruelas Mexico W12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)
10 Sep James Leija Texas D12
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

7 May James Leija Nevada L12
(Lost WBC 130 lb. Title)

1 Dec Gabriel Ruelas California KO5
(Regained WBC 130 lb. Title)

1 Jun James Leija Nevada TKO6
(Retained WBC 130 lb. Title)

-- Gains recognition as Lineal World Junior lightweight champion
22 Mar (Loses World & WBC 130 lb. Title)

11 Jul James Leija San Antonio L 12
(For IBA Lightweight title)
6 Nov

Announces Retirement

  • Interview
  • 2004: Boxing Hall Enshrines Azumah