Dr. Samuel Armah Quaye could have followed in his family’s footsteps and pursued a career in table tennis instead of one in boxing.
A 19-year-old Quaye was already playing for Ghana’s national table tennis team, the Black Loopers. But after failing to beat his two brothers in various competitions, he decided to shun the mild-mannered sport, a move that ultimately led to him becoming Ghana boxing’s most famed medical name.
“Growing up I wanted to study so I told my father to take me to Cape Coast, because I knew I would have followed in the footsteps of my brothers in playing table tennis if I stayed in Accra,” Dr. Quaye told BoxingAfrica.com.
“I attended Accra High School before I relocated to Cape Coast where I joined Ghana National College. I later moved to Russia to study medicine after my Senior High School education.”
In Russia, Quaye was a student at Crimean Medical Institute from 1965-1972. He returned to Ghana to practice at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Koforidua Regional Hospital. During this time, he met bantamweight boxer Ebo Dankwa through the late Sandy Anderson and Mike Eghan, Dankwa’s managers at the time.
The rest is history.
“It was through my profession as a doctor that I became the medical officer of bantamweight boxer Ebo Dankwa,” Quaye recalled. “I used to travel with him a lot whenever he had a fight outside Ghana and that was where my passion for boxing started.”
Today, Quaye, 78, is the most renowned doctor in Ghana boxing. He made headlines in 2007 when he disclosed to the nation that local fistic star Brimah Kamoko, better known as Bukom Banku, was developing a cataract in the eye which would eventually lead to blindness.
Quaye’s observation prevented Bukom Banku from fighting Mohammed Bameyie. It also nearly cost him his life.
“I faced so many problems from Bukom Banku for preventing his scheduled fight with Mohammed Bameyie at the time,” said Dr. Quaye. “He came with a mob to heckle and assault me during the weigh-in at the Globe Cinema in Accra.”
Four years after the disagreement with Bukom Banku, Dr. Quaye reunited with the boxer, who thanked him for insisting he have eye surgery—which the boxer successfully did in 2010.
Nothing, not even an angry mob, could dissuade Dr. Quaye from his love of the fight game. He would go on to become the Ghana Boxing Authority’s (GBA) medical officer.
Using the latex gloves of the medical field to handle those who wore leather gloves in their own practice probably isn’t what Quaye’s parents, Isaac Teiko Quaye and Mary Tawiah Quartey, envisioned when he was born on July 15, 1941.
The Quaye’s lived in Atukpai, a suburb of Accra. Father Isaac, a high jumper in school, was a woodwork Instructor and mother Mary a trader. Both have since died.
Their two older sons, Emmanuel and Ebenezer, were national table tennis champions in the 1960’s.
All three Quaye boys were a feared trio on the Black Loopers. But the youngest had other plans.
“My father and brothers were surprised to see me in boxing at the time,” said Dr. Quaye. “But they supported my decision by sometimes accompanying me to fight nights.”
In over three decades of boxing, Dr. Quaye has worked under five different GBA presidents. He played vital roles in the successes of eight of Ghana’s world champions.
“I have known [Dr. Quaye] for a very long time and I just love his commitment to the sport over the years,” said former GBA president Moses Foh-Amoaning during a conversation with BoxingAfrica.com. “I was in charge of the GBA when he was assaulted by Bukom Banku, but it didn’t deter him from his post and that shows how passionate he is about boxing.”
Dr. Quaye admits it’s a difficult part of his profession.
“I have really enjoyed my time as a medical officer in boxing, but the verbal abuses and assault from some boxers and their supporters remain among the biggest challenges I have faced over the years,” he said.
His friend and colleague on the GBA Board, Jonathan Ansah Annan, says Dr. Quaye’s work has helped save lives.
“I remember when boxer Isaac Tetteh had an accident and got injured in the neck,” Annan told BoxingAfrica.com. “He wanted to make a return to the ring but Dr. Quaye was firm and prevented it.”
Not all the memories are sobering. Naturally, some of Dr. Quaye’s most cherished memories involve boxing as well. From traveling to Malta to take part in a WBC conference for medical officials to the daily grind in his native country, all have helped shape the man whom so many admire.
Through it all, Dr. Quaye hasn’t lost a step—or his passion for boxing.
“I am done with work as a medical officer after closing my clinic,” he said. “But I love boxing so I continue with my role with the GBA as my hobby.”
A hobby to some, a God-send to others in the form of a man who continues to give back to the sport that he believes gave so much to him.