If an endangered species is one at risk due to loss of population or critical habitat, then Ghana boxing is perilously close to that description.
On Tuesday, June 29, Streetwise Management CEO Michael Amoo-Bediako emailed BoxRec to discover why they hadn’t published his July 10 event in Accra on their website. For fight aficionados, BoxRec.com is the Google of boxing. In 2016, the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) installed BoxRec as the official boxing record keeper, replacing Fight Fax.
Once a fight is made official, it must be submitted to BoxRec, which keeps all fighter records, events and other pertinent information. The July 10 card, promoted in collaboration with Ace Power Promotions of Ghana and Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment (DBE) of the United States, featured undefeated super featherweight Joshua Wahab, a 23-year-old fighter managed by Amoo-Bediako who had recently signed a promotional contract with DBE.
Wahab was to face Anthony Molosaine with the WBO Africa super featherweight title on the line. Victory meant a high placement in the WBO rankings.
Unless, of course, the fight wasn’t published on BoxRec. If that were the case, it would be as if the fight never happened.
“As we were getting closer to July 10, there were issues uploading the whole event onto BoxRec which I found strange,” said Amoo-Bediako. “I asked Ace Power Promotions to investigate but there seemed to be a lack of clarification coming from the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA).
“I contacted BoxRec head John Shepard myself and he told me the full extent of the situation. What I heard shocked me.”
Shepard informed him that bouts in Ghana would no longer be recognized due to “lies and deceit…fake documents, refusal to cooperate, etc., etc.”
Without BoxRec, any bouts occurring in Ghana going forward would not be recorded and thus, wouldn’t be a part of a fighter’s record. This meant a loss of future revenue for boxers, a loss of time and little chance of being ranked to position oneself for a world title opportunity.
In follow-up correspondence, BoxRec reps stated, “BoxRec has a table listing countries who are troublesome, who lie, who are difficult to work with and who falsify information for their own ends and at the very top of this table stands GHANA. Of all the countries that BoxRec deals with around the world Ghanaian boxing stands proud as the league champion of corruption and lies. What a sad thing it is to have such a reputation.”
It got worse.
BoxRec had notified the GBA of the ban on their bouts several months prior to Amoo-Bediako’s discovery. Yet the GBA had kept a lid on it.
“We had been planning this event for a few months with partners and investors from overseas so it was very disappointing to find out that the GBA knew the situation but failed to inform us,” said Amoo-Bediako.
“I had to find out for myself very late about the situation and once I informed my partners, the decision was made immediately to move Joshua’s WBO Africa title bout to Nigeria which came at some considerable costs.”
Including a new opponent – and location. Wahab ended up facing Muksini Swahele at Nu Rock Event Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. He dominated, dropping Swahele in the first and then for good in the fifth to capture the WBO Africa 126-pound strap and improve his record to 21-0 (14 KOs).
“He showed his natural ability with his movement and hand speed but his timing was a bit off which is understandable having only fought twice in nearly two years due to the Covid situation,” Amoo-Bediako observed. “All in all, he got the job done.”
Now it’s up to the GBA to do their job.
In recent months, the organization has come under fire for questionable decisions that polarized the Ghana boxing community. This includes last April’s banning of former world champion Richard Commey for two years and a five-year ban for heavyweight Richard Harrison Lartey (full story on both HERE).
As for the culprit who falsified documentation which led to BoxRec’s ban? He was reportedly given a six-month suspension. A slap on the wrist might have been harsher.
Insiders suspect the light penalty was due to the person’s close ties with the GBA. Indeed, there is a growing belief that much of the GBA’s head-scratching decisions are primarily due to the incestuous nature of the organization.
“We need transparency,” Amoo-Bediako declared. “I really don’t understand how license holders can also be on the board of the GBA. The GBA are the governing body so how can license holders govern themselves? It is a complete and utter conflict of interest and it leaves open the possibility of board members who are privy to what goes on behind the scenes in the GBA using that knowledge to their own advantage or personal gain.
“There should be no trainers, managers, not boxing promoters sitting on the GBA board. It should be completely independent of license holders which will make it an impartial regulatory body.”
On July 30, Abraham Kotei Neequaye was elected the new president of the GBA, replacing Peter Zwennes, who opted not to run. Neequaye’s win over opponent Henry Manley-Spain was an upset of sorts. He will now serve four years spearheading the organization which licenses, sanctions and governs professional boxing events in Ghana.
Neequaye has promised change. UK-based Amoo-Bediako believes he’s on the right track.
“I would like to have an opportunity to sit down with the new president, Abraham Kotei Neequaye,” said Amoo-Bediako. “Firstly, to congratulate him on his new appointment and put forward some ideas that I feel can help change the attitude towards Ghana boxing and fundamentally help us move forward together for the greater good of Ghanaian boxing.”
Sports journalist Bernard Neequaye took it one step further in a recent column in Ghana’s Daily Graphic
Prior to the regime change, BoxRec sent the GBA a series of strict guidelines to be followed for reinstatement. At the time of this writing, they have not received a response.
Ghana was once the breadbasket of Africa boxing. Leadership, however, has left its fighters to battle for scraps. Whether that changes with a new face at the helm remains to be seen.