Lawrence Carl Lokko is the most ubiquitous figure in Ghana boxing today. You can catch him at any boxing event involving a Ghanaian, be it in Accra, London, New York or even Russia.
Lokko is the technical director of the Ghana Boxing Authority. He’s also the founder and lead coach of Accra’s Bronx Boxing Club, a gym that’s cultivated many of Ghana’s present bright talent, including IBF number-one and WBC number-three lightweight contender Richard Commey.
Lokko’s reach extends beyond Ghana’s shores. He currently resides in the Big Apple, where he serves as lead trainer for undefeated bantamweight contender Duke Micah and, along with Kwame Asante, works with welterweight Fredrick Lawson.
The two, and others at John’s Boxing Gym in the Bronx, keep the world-class trainer busy. Micah is closing in on a world title shot. Lawson is in the semifinals of the WBC welterweight tourney. Lokko, as usual, is at the center of it all. BoxingAfrica.com caught up with him to discuss his latest ventures, an update on Duke Micah, and his thoughts on Isaac Dogboe, Emmanuel Tagoe and the state of Ghana boxing.
The Latest from New York
I’m always looking to advance and better myself as a trainer. I’m here for boxing, trying to push myself, upgrade myself and upgrade my fighters at the same time. We’re working hard and that is key to everything you do.
Duke Micah Update
By the grace of God, I can say that Duke is understanding the terrain. He’s working very seriously. When you see him at the gym, you can see that he is determined. Duke was good already. But now you can see improvement, and a greater understanding of what he is doing when you compare Duke in Ghana and Duke here in America. Not just an understanding in the ring, but what it takes outside of the ring too. You must understand the system and what is expected of you.
It wasn’t easy for Duke to stay focused when he first got here last year October. But you can see the focus now. Duke’s last fight was cancelled when his opponent couldn’t make weight. He will be fighting next month [Editor’s note: June 9th is the likely date]. I expect him to show that improvement.
On Isaac Dogboe’s Rise
Once again, I have to say congratulations to Isaac Dogboe and Team Dogboe as a whole. They’ve done a great job. Dogboe did what he had to do, and he did it well. We shouldn’t forget that Isaac is still growing and learning. He’s only 23; still young and fighting at a very high level. So, he’s still learning, but he was great that night. His composure after the early rounds, when the fight wasn’t going well for him, was impressive. He came back like a real champion who understands why he’s in the ring.
The World Title Controversy
I personally don’t think we should compare Isaac Dogboe’s WBO world title to Emmanuel Tagoe’s IBO world title. Isaac Dogboe has done a great job for Ghana and we should focus on him as of now. I don’t know where this is coming from, talking about eighth or ninth world title for Ghana.
All I can say is that, whatever we do, the IBO is a recognized world title in a sense that, if we have five titles and the IBO is the lowest one, it’s still among the five. You can say the WBC is bigger than the WBO, yet the WBO is still considered a world title. I believe that we have a champion in the name of Emmanuel Tagoe. So, I think it’s nine, not eight world titles attributed to Ghana.
The State of Ghana Boxing Today
We always try to compare ourselves to other countries, but the United States is almost like a continent (laughs). There’s a big difference between America and Ghana. So as far as comparing Ghana boxing to other countries, we’re making progress but we’re not at that level. The understanding of promoting and promotions is needed at a higher level. When a promoter can gain TV rights, it allows them—and forces them—to put on more competitive fights. It increases the audience and the popularity of the sport.
But promoters in Ghana boxing are struggling when it comes to TV. Ghana boxing is on a different level now. Look at where we were five, six years ago. Boxing is on the rise. But we still need TV, international TV to pick up the feed, and that will expand the sport. But I have to say Ghana boxing is doing well overall. We still have to push on.
A Word to Ghana Boxers & Trainers
All of us have to take it extra seriously, because it’s not easy at all to be a trainer, to be a boxer, to be a manager or to be a promoter. The ups and downs that you face will test you. They must understand that, you can’t be looking at the money. You need the passion to do it or the money will never come. You must take it seriously.
The competition outside is not a joke. Even as a trainer, you realize that, but you can’t give up. You have to focus and continue to grow in what you’re trying to do. I have learned a lot, traveling all over. The most important thing is knowing how to prepare a boxer for a fight. You must know how to make adjustments and that begins before the fight.
Trainers and boxers also must work on the proper way of making weight, not just doing it anyhow. That can affect how the boxer performs. Day in and day out, you have to learn. And I’m still learning. My dream is still out there for me to achieve. My Bronx Gym in Accra still has a lot of talent there. And I want to take what I’m learning over here to the trainers and the boxers in that gym. Not just in the ring, again. The business side, the management and administrative, is very important. We need to gain more knowledge of that aspect. That way, I’m not just helping myself. I’m helping those around me and they will help others. Together, we can uplift Ghana boxing on a national and international level.