As is often the case in Ghana sports, boxing has been handed the short end of the stick.
At least when compared to a sport like football, which often receives the bulk of Ghana government funding despite having brought the country far less international glory than the sweet science.
The latest example of this involves national amateur boxing team, who are still awaiting payment for participating in last March’s Africa Olympic Games qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal.
In all, 12 participants (10 boxers and two coaches), haven’t received any financial compensation for representing their country in international competition three months ago.
Two of those boxers, Samuel Takyi and Suleman Tetteh, say they’ve been neglected by the state despite qualifying for next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“I wonder if they would have treated footballers this way,” Tayki said in an interview with BoxingAfrica.com. “There is no motivation for us to give our best because we do our part and the country fail to recognize it.”
Tetteh was more emotional during his conversation with BoxingAfrica.com, recounting how they encountered similar issues in past at continental championships.
“I don’t know if this is going to end because it has been the norm for us to be avoided after competitions,” said Tetteh. “This is not the first time and that keeps me wondering whether we are valued for the work we do for our country.”
These issues have hindered fighter development and preparation, noted coach Kwasi Ofori Asare, trainer of the national amateur boxing team, Black Bombers. The long-time, well-respected coach hasn’t received payment either.
“We have been calling on them to pay as our per diems but all to no avail,” said the long-time coach to BoxingAfrica.com. “All we get from the state are excuses and we are fed up.
“What bothers me most is that these fighters are not working and depend solely on these monies. It is difficult for me as the coach to be engaging them knowing well their situation.”
Much of the blame has been attributed to the National Sports Authority (NSA), a body instituted by law to oversee the activities of all sporting federations in Ghana. The NSA liaises with the Sports Ministry to pay the nation’s athletes.
According to Prof. Patrick Twumasi, Director General of the NSA, they aren’t mandated to pay per diems and bonuses for qualifiers, pointing out that the NSA Is working on a budget to adequately prepare boxers for next year’s Olympics.
“We supported them financially when they were preparing for the qualifiers in Dakar and that is required of us,” said Twumasi. “There is no budget for athletes who competed in qualifiers.
“They must exercise patience because we did what we have to do by issuing all financial support to the amateur president during their preparations to the qualifiers.”
The amateur president in question, Ghana Boxing Federation chief George Lamptey, took umbrage at Prof. Twumasi’s comments when contacted by BoxingAfrica.com, denying any financial assistance from the NSA during and after their participations for the Dakar qualifiers.
“All the NSA gave us was five air tickets for ten athletes and two coaches when we were leaving. There was nothing like financial assistance from them,” Lamptey declared.
“It is sad that despite several engagements with the NSA and Minister, our athletes were yet to receive their per diems for a competition they took part in three months ago.”
The back and forth blame game will no doubt continue. However, while fingers are being pointed, the situation for those who toiled for the nation’s glory is getting worse.
“We have been calling on them to pay as our per diems but all to no avail,” said Takyi.” “All we get from the state are excuses and we are fed up.”