Every now and then, Ghana boxing fans get a glimpse of what goes on behind the curtain and see what ails the nation’s sport. Such is the case with the latest rift between former lightweight champion Richard Commey and the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA).
On Tuesday, January 11, GBA President Abraham Kotei-Neequaye appeared on JOY News to address comments made by Commey and his UK-based manager, Streetwise Management CEO Michael Amoo-Bediako, both of whom are currently in Ghana.
According to JOY News host Nat Attor, the GBA had “demanded a percentage of Commey’s purse” from his December 11 bout versus Vasiliy Lomachenko in New York, where Commey resides. Commey earned over $700,000 for that bout.
A source with knowledge of the situation informed BoxingAfrica.com that the GBA specifically demanded 5% of the purse through an official letter, with no offer of a possible negotiation. If this wasn’t done, Amoo-Bediako would no longer be allowed to work as a manager in Ghana and his fighters would be told of this in writing.
Commey and Amoo-Bediako rebuffed Neequaye’s demands, addressing the media during a ceremony where the pair, through The Streetwise Foundation, donated boxing equipment to Charles Quartey Boxing Club in Accra.
“It was a pretty heated conversation,” Amoo-Bediako said of his sit-down with Neequaye at GBA offices in Accra. “There is no rule that entitles the GBA any funding because [Richard] is not a resident here, he doesn’t live here. He pays his commissions, his taxes and everything he does in the US, as he has done since 2017.
“[Neequaye] said to me, if that’s the case then he will not allow Richard to fight under the Ghanaian flag. How can you tell a Ghanaian not to be a Ghanaian? I asked him, ‘On what authority do you have to tell Richard he can’t fight under the Ghanaian flag?’ I was told I should wait and see.”
Neequaye was unavailable for comment for this story. However, he did make his case on national TV. Host Attor read aloud clause 18 of the GBA rulebook which reads, “Boxers licensed by the Ghana Boxing Authority and fighting outside of the country, whether under the flag of Ghana or not, are expected to remit a percentage sum of their purse to the Authority.”
According to the clause, the percentage is negotiable.
“I told Amoo-Bediako about the percentage of the purse,” Neequaye explained. “You can see it [was written in] 1996…I was not part of it. We said, if they don’t pay the little percentage that they will give to the Ghana Boxing Authority, how then will we then develop the sport?”
On the surface, these statements and actions make sense—except for one glaring omission.
Richard Commey isn’t licensed by the GBA and hasn’t been since 2017. Therefore, the clause does not apply to him.
Naturally, Neequaye didn’t volunteer that information. Instead, in letters dated January 14, 2022, the GBA indefinitely suspended both Commey and Amoo-Bediako.
Interestingly enough, the comments from Commey and Amoo-Bediako regarding the GBA were made after they had donated equipment to a local gym—exactly what the nation’s pugilists need today.
These efforts were ignored by Neequaye who apparently believes that the only way to develop Ghana boxing is through the replenishment of GBA coffers.
Either way, the point about development is moot as Commey is not licensed in Ghana, not under their auspices and, therefore, not required to remit any sum to the GBA.
Further, Neequaye didn’t clarify if he in fact said that Commey couldn’t fight under the Ghana flag if he didn’t pay that percentage. Instead, the conversation moved to trainers in Ghana, a point outlined below.
Up until 2017, Commey was trained by respected trainer Lawrence Carl Lokko of Bronx Boxing Club in Accra. Lokko was the man in the corner when Commey received his first title shot, a split decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. in the United States—a bout many feel Commey should have won.
Commey and Lokko ultimately parted ways as the former enlisted US-based coach Andre Rozier.
“That is not fair,” said Neequaye. “Richard Commey was a kickboxer. Carl Lokko brought Richard Commey. He took care of him with his own pocket money. Amoo-Bediako, from the UK, brought his own son to be trained in Ghana. And Carl Lokko gave [Commey] to you.
“It’s because the managers have contracts with the boxers and the coaches don’t have contracts with them…all coaches should have contracts with the boxers. The manager has the money so the boxer listens more to him than the coach. But it’s the coach who did the development.”
Both Commey and Amoo-Bediako refute Neequaye’s recollection of events. Evidence to support this is currently being obtained and suggests that this battle is far from over.
Nevertheless, Ghana trainers are often relegated to the sidelines when their boxers relocate abroad. Some are fortunate to remain with the fighter, such as Daniel Odamtten, who trained Ike Quartey for the entirety of his career. Others are not. Azumah Nelson, at his peak, switched trainers and was coached by Mexico’s Jose “Buffalo” Martin.
In short, it’s the fighter’s prerogative. To say that boxers listen to their manager over their trainer because one has money insults their intelligence. WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury changes trainers the way men change socks yet the consensus is that he does so to improve skill, not because his management coerces him to.
Unfortunately, these are the issues Ghana boxing faces today, from the need for more equipment to mafia tariffs being imposed on unsuspecting fighters. This latest saga serves as a reminder to Ghana boxing fans that, while the faces behind the curtain may change, the act remains the same.