If there were a book titled, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) logo would probably be on the cover.
Former GBA president Peter Zwennes served in his role for eight years before stepping down in 2021. Zwennes’ tenure produced two world champions, a fine achievement. Even so, his regime either wouldn’t or couldn’t completely uproot the corrupt business practices embedded in Ghana boxing.
Nevertheless, Zwennes’ love for the sport was undeniable, as was his honorable nature. Whether the same can be said for current GBA president Abraham Kotei-Neequaye remains to be seen.
Since taking over for Zwennes last July, the duly elected Neequaye has managed to draw the ire of many in the sport with an abrasive, self-serving style of leadership.
One latest example of this involves the Ghana Professional Boxing League. The league, promoted by IMAX Media Group in conjunction with the GBA, was set to have their third installment, “Fight Night III,” take place on Saturday, March 19 at Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra.
Trust Sports Emporium Limited (TSEL) oversees Bukom Boxing Arena which has housed the first two league events. On Wednesday, March 16, the GBA issued a statement announcing that the league’s third event had been postponed from March 19 to March 26. According to the GBA, this was due to TSEL’s decision to rent the arena out for a musical concert instead.
The GBA lamented what they deemed unfair treatment from TSEL management and questioned why the venue was given to a non-boxing client without proper notice. Their statement also noted that the new March 26 event would in fact be held at Bukom Boxing Arena.
On Friday, March 18, TSEL issued a response. In their press release, TSEL described the GBA’s remarks as untrue and explained that the GBA had initially agreed to use the Ga Mashie Hall, not Bukom Boxing Arena, for March 19’s “Fight Night III.”
TSEL said it later received a letter from the GBA asking for the show to be moved to Bukom Boxing Arena. This could not be granted because contracts had already been signed with a music client for that March 19 date.
TSEL added that it would be wrong for the GBA to assume Bukom Boxing Arena was only meant for boxing shows. They also questioned why the GBA announced March 26 as the new date for their league without consulting TSEL on the availability of the arena. In short, Bukom Boxing Arena wasn’t available on March 26 either, despite the GBA’s efforts to strong-arm their way into it.
The problems didn’t end there.
The GBA’s decision to move the league’s event to March 26 did not go down well with Cabic Promotions, who had already scheduled a show on that date at the Idrowhyt Event Centre at Dansoman in Accra.
Cabic’s event featured veteran Patrick Allotey facing Tanzania’s Hamisi Maya for the WBO Africa super welterweight title. In a letter dated March 17, the promoters pointed out that any attempt by the GBA to have its league event re-scheduled to March 26 would go against their own regulatory practices.
The outfit explained that, as per established promotional convention in Ghana, IMAX Media Group, promoters of the pro league, could only stage a bout outside Greater Accra Region on the March 26 date as Cabic had already scheduled their event within the region.
In a counter statement, the GBA insisted that there was nothing wrong with organizing two events in the same region at the same time once it has been approved by the regulator which, in this case, would be themselves.
They also denied favoring IMAX, their partners in the Ghana Professional Boxing League. Most in the Ghana boxing fraternity are skeptical—and with good reason (more on this later).
These are just the latest actions from the new GBA regime, actions that have left some to ponder if Neequaye’s goal is to increase Ghana boxing or simply increase his bank account.
The problems began almost immediately after the new election.
One of Neequaye’s first moves was to remove funds from the GBA coffers to purchase an official vehicle for what he called “marketing purposes.” This unilateral decision to use money for an unnecessary luxury was met with condemnation from stakeholders. It didn’t matter.
Eight months later, the vehicle has essentially become Neequaye’s personal property.
Then, the newly-elected president partitioned a separate office for himself in the small space the GBA occupies within the TSEL headquarters. The decision was heavily fought given the lack of room but with the aid of his Executive Board, Neequaye maneuvered his way through to achieve his aim.
Perhaps it was done so no one could see his true intentions. Stay tuned for that part of the story in the next installment of “The GBA and The Destruction of Ghana Boxing.”