Goodwill Sports Ambassador and former Ghana Amateur Boxing Federation President Ray Quarcoo is one of the nation’s crown jewels. Mr. Quarcoo gave his thoughts on Ghana boxing and the Bukom Banku-Bastie Samir bout in a recent one-on-one interview.
Sir, how did you rate the fight?
It was a classical boxing night by all standards. Both boxers exhibited the best skills and technique in the sport. It was a night to remember. A well-organized event with good attendance which brings hope to me that the sport can be revived when things are done right. For the sport to grow, such promotion must be sustained. Kudos to both boxers and the organizers.
Please, can you give me your assessment of performance of both boxers?
Of the two boxers, the younger [Bastie Samir] seemed to have an edge in stamina and the reason is very obvious. However, Braimah Kamoko demonstrated high boxing skills in the early rounds which helped to sustain him to last until mid-fight.
Having passed through the amateur ranks before joining the paid ranks, unlike his opponent, Samir entered the ring with an arsenal of brain and brawn; exhibiting high sense of purpose and professionalism while Kamoko set himself to entertain the crowd with profound ring artistry but with weaker jabs, which were effectively countered by Samir’s powerful combinations and crosses as the fight progressed.
Samir is a revelation and his performance vindicated my long-held belief that until we put in place a strong amateur boxing system for grooming our future boxers; instead of rushing them to join the paid ranks, it will be very difficult to groom champions in the breed of the Azumah Nelson’s, Ike Quartey’s, etc.
The Braimah Kamoko-Bastie Samir epic fight brought to me reminiscence of the sweet sixties when the country witnessed the golden era of boxing. That was when the first Olympic medal for the country was won by Ike Quartey (Snr.) at the Rome Olympic Games, a feat which was repeated by Eddie Blay in 1964 in Tokyo; then followed the exploits of David “Poison” Kotei, Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey (Jnr.), Nana Konadu, John Agbeko, Alfred Kotey, Joshua Clottey etc. on the international arena through the eighties and nineties.
Unfortunately, amateur boxing in Ghana for some time now has descended to its lowest ebb and it is important that it is put back to the pinnacle where it once belongs. Currently, there barely exists any well-resourced amateur boxing club in the country; majority of what exist now are centrally located in the Accra metropolis (Bukom precisely), which are woefully under-resourced.
Sir, what is your take on the future of boxing in the country?
It is worth noting that all Ghana’s past world champions, with the exception of D.K. Poison, were products of amateur boxing. In recent times, this point has been proven by Prince “Octopus” Dzanie, Isaac Dogboe and Duke Micah. All are Black Bombers graduates and Olympians who are currently holding WBO titles with great potential, following the trail of Azumah and the rest.
It can then be argued clearly that in the contemporary history of the sport, most of the title holders and contenders are Olympians who passed through the mill of amateur boxing. As in soccer, the FIFA Under 17 Championship sets the platform for grooming future stars; so why not same for boxing?
To put Ghana back to the pinnacle of boxing where it once belongs; we need to build a very strong foundation at the amateur level; where young talents will learn the rudiments of the sport, have exposure to international tournaments and climax it with Olympic appearance.
What advice do you have for both administrators and athletes of the sport, Sir?
The path to a successful professional career in boxing begins at the amateur level. The amateur boxer goes through exhausting, daily workouts to condition and strengthen the body. The boxer learns boxing techniques and the rules and regulations of the sport.
A boxer can only advance to professional status when he and his trainer(s) feel he is ready. This must happen after a considerable number of competitions. He must apply for a license from the state’s athletic commission before he can fight. To qualify, the boxer must be physically fit, mentally sound, of good moral character and reputation, skilled in his profession, not addicted to drugs or any substance and has the amount of experience required.
The path to a professional boxing career is challenging and only skilled and committed boxers can find success at the end. This is the only reason why it should begin at the amateur level. Professional boxing is a hard, demanding sport and like so many other sports, there is a degree of risk. For this reason, licensing professional boxers must be designed to minimize such risk and to ensure that boxers are fully prepared fit and properly matched to enjoy a rewarding career with some financial benefit.
The licensing Board must ensure that all applicants have had experience in amateur boxing with official records to back. Anybody contemplating a professional career who has not already boxed must be advised to contact an amateur club in their area. In Britain for instance, for anyone striving to get to the professional sport; it is almost impossible without first having had a good amateur career.