The Ghana boxing world is still mourning the loss of former President Jerry John Rawlings, who died Thursday, November 12, at age 73.
President Rawlings was not only a statesman but a boxing enthusiast who supported the sport throughout his lifetime.
President Rawling’s love for boxing dates back to his military days, when he was the trainer of the army boxing team. It was through this association that he met future legend Azumah Nelson.
Under Rawlings leadership, Ghana became a major player on the international boxing stage. Four of Ghanaian fighters became world champion during that time: the aforementioned Nelson, Nana Yaw Konadu, Ike Quartey and the late Alfred Kotey.
President Rawling’s contributions to the sport will not be forgotten. Here are what several notable Ghana boxing figures had to share regarding their memories of the late leader:
Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey (Former WBA World Welterweight Champion)
“He supported me throughout my career and I always maintained a very close relationship with him even after retiring from the sport,” Quartey told BoxingAfrica.com.
“He was an inspirational figure wherever he went and personally he did a lot for me during his tenure as President. As an amateur, Rawlings was instrumental in getting us the best of preparations for continental and amateur competitions. He played a significant role in ensuring that I together with Alfred Kotey became champions.”
Moses Foh-Amoaning (Former Ghana Boxing Authority President)
Foh-Amoaning said his most memorable encounter with President Rawlings occurred in 2005, when the leader called him on Ike Quartey’s behalf to ensure the ex-champion obtained his boxing license so he could return to the sport.
“President Rawlings supported everything boxing and proved to be a lover of the sport. During my tenure, he was there for me anytime I called on him,” said Foh-Amoaning.
“As I speak to you, the most recent conversation I had with him was to make him a life patron of the upcoming board to be named for the amateur federation.
“It is sad that after all the commitment he showed in making it happen, he won’t be around to witness its inauguration which pierces my heart.”
Nana Yaw Konadu (Former Two-Division World Champion)
“It’s been a sad time knowing that Rawlings was no more because he did a lot for me during and after my boxing career. From financial support to acting as a counsel to me, Rawlings showed me love and I will forever be grateful to him.
“There were times that I was treated like a king because Rawlings loved boxing and was always ready to support any boxer to become a champion,” Konadu told BoxingAfrica.com.
Konadu became a close ally of the former Ghana leader because he coincidentally bears the same name as Rawlings’ wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings.
According to him, bearing the name ‘Konadu’ drew love and affection from the Rawlings’ regime.
Samir Captan (WBO Africa Supervisor and Former Ghana Boxing Authority President)
Captan’s relationship with President Rawlings dates back to the 80’s when Captain managed Azumah Nelson under his outfit, Sikaprix Promotions.
The veteran boxing administrator said it was during his dealings with Azumah that he became close to the late ex-President.
“I realized he really loved boxing because of the role he played with Azumah Nelson. He would facilitate for us to get everything we wanted to put Azumah in good shape for fights.
“That really helped in making Azumah the best boxer to have emerged from Africa and since our first encounter, he has always been there for me anytime I call on him.”
Joshua Clottey (Former IBF World Welterweight Champion)
Joshua Clottey’s first encounter with President Rawlings was when he presented his world title to him
“It was a great feeling because Rawlings was a personality everyone wanted to associate with. The kind of advice he gave me during our meeting proves why he is adored by many.
“He checked up on me frequently and taught me to be disciplined in order to stay at the top of the sport for long,” said Clottey, who won the IBF belt by beating Zab Judah in 2008.
Yoofi Boham (Executive Committee member, Ghana Boxing Authority)
Boham has been a boxing administrator for over three decades. He remembers how the statesman received his fighter, the late Alfred Kotey, when the boxer won the WBO bantamweight title in 1994.
“He was all over us when we arrived in Ghana with the WBO title with Alfred Kotey. Since then, I’ve had several encounters with him and everything shows how much he loves boxing.”
Boham in recent times played a vital role in making Isaac Dogboe a world champion and said Rawlings supported the former champion’s development.
“When we were bringing Isaac Dogboe up, Rawlings was so much interested in his growth. I remember he was always checking up on the boxer to ensure he is always ready.”