Peter Zwennes, the President of the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA), is proving his point. Even so, there is only so much that can be done without support from Ghana’s Ministry of Youth and Sports.
On Tuesday, Zwennes spoke at Kotoka International Airport during the arrival of Isaac Dogboe. Dogboe received a warm welcome as government officials, members of the GBA, fans and boxing legend Azumah Nelson were all on hand to greet the newly-crowned WBO super bantamweight champion.
Zwennes, a lawyer by trade, called on the ministry to eschew the empty rhetoric and to perform their fiduciary duty as public officials.
“It is time the sports ministry stopped paying lip service to helping the other sports,” he said. “It is time the ministry translated its help in practical terms.”
The Black Stars, Ghana’s national football team, didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup. They finished a disappointing fourth in the 2017 African Cup of Nations and have failed to yield a return on the nation’s investment.
Zwennes is serving his second term as president of the GBA. During his tenure, Ghana boxing has achieved atypical results in recent years.
Last Saturday, Dogboe delivered a thrilling, eleventh-round TKO over previously-undefeated Jessie Magdaleno in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The victory makes the 23-year-old Dogboe Ghana’s youngest world champion ever.
“Sitting here, I can tell you that [father/trainer] Paul Dogboe and his team have spent hundreds and millions to get this far to bring this title,” Zwennes said. “If the ministry, as usual, wants to take credit for the success of other individuals when we have not seen any concrete contribution, then they must sit up.
“So, if the Sports Minister is listening to me, I am saying it loud and clear: This is the time they must come and give us some practical help. We need to see that the ministry is not for only football.”
Dogboe is the nation’s first world champion in nearly eight years. He’ll be closely followed by current lightweight contender Richard Commey, who is on the verge of a world title shot.
Further, undefeated bantamweight contender Duke Micah and welterweight Fredrick Lawson, both signed to Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing, are also making waves in the United States.
Much of this has been accomplished without backing from the nation’s government. Boxers are left to rely on the GBA or their individual managers, such as Michael Amoo-Bediako, who brought Commey to prominence, and Jacob Zwennes, who manages Lawson and co-manages Micah alongside Amoo-Bediako.
“The GBA members who attend these events, including our president, do so on their own dime,” said Lawrence Carl Lokko, trainer and executive member of the GBA. “The ministry does not provide any funding to support these endeavors. This extends beyond simply attending the fights. We do not receive what should be allotted so that we can do our work in furthering the sport on an international level.”
The GBA is doing their part. Lokko, president Zwennes, GBA officer Patrick Johnson and a host of others could be found all over the U.S. last week. On Friday, they accompanied Lawson to Louisville, Kentucky as the latter advanced to the semifinals of the WBC International Welterweight Tourney, also known as The Jose Sulaiman World Invitational.
One day later, the Ghana contingent made the 580-mile trek north to support Dogboe as he wrested the title from Magdaleno in a performance that has shaken up the boxing world.
Naturally, the sports ministry released a statement congratulating Dogboe on his efforts. Now more than ever, it’s time they release more than just words.