Samir Captan’s legacy in Ghana boxing will forever linger in the minds of enthusiasts, if not for anything at all in connection with the instrumental role he played in legendary Azumah Nelson’s professional career.
Mr Captan did not leave boxing after the split with Azumah in 1982. In all, the former Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) president managed and promoted 44 fighters.
Just as the saying ‘Passion is energy’; the only thing that drives him to serve a sport which to him offers more ungratefulness than gratitude is the love for boxing.
“I have been through a lot in boxing,” Mr Captan told Graphic Sports. “I just can’t leave boxing because of my passion towards it and that is why I continue to serve the sport.”
“My family at a time weren’t in favour of the investment I was making in boxing but I stood my grounds to continue managing and promoting boxers,” he added.
Despite this rich history in boxing, many continue to wonder how he built Azumah’s career to a brighter stage only for others to enjoy the fruit of his labour. So what really led to their split?
Mr Captan’s boxing career as a manager and promoter begun in 1977 when he was introduced to manage US-based light heavyweight contender, George Aidoo.
After both parties signed contracts, Mr Captan formed Sikaprix Promotions to lead Aidoo into his attempt to dethrone Richard ‘Scorpion’ Ofosu’s national title at the time which failed.
“I have always loved boxing but I wasn’t into the mainstream thing. What I used to do was to watch fights before I met George Aidoo.”
“It was through George that I became a manager and promoter and that was how my boxing career started.”
After the defeat, Aidoo went back to US and never returned. Captan decided to manage Ofosu but along the line, legendary Colonel George Slater, a referee judge, brought Azumah to him.
“Throughout my association with Azumah, I never had a written contract with him. I quickly arranged for him to begin his professional career.”
“There was no other person in mind to fight but Henry Saddler for the national featherweight crown. I quickly informed the GBA to arrange a fight with the champion which they objected.”
Finally, Mr Captan convinced the leadership of the GBA about Azumah’s prowess, considering his stellar amateur career.
“I remember Henry Saddler tried to avoid Azumah when we were trying to make him sign for the fight. He refused to sign the contract on two occasions in Takoradi when I sent Nii Anum Thompson there,” Mr Captan recounted.
“We were able to get the fight underway through his manager who signed the contract. The fight finally took place at the Kaneshie Sports Complex and Azumah stopped Saddler in nine rounds.”
Azumah became the national champion but faced one opposition at ringside. Abdul Rahman Okpoti was the top rated featherweight who was in line to challenge Saddler before Azumah got the nod.
Okpoti came from ringside to complain about Azumah bypassing him for the national crown.
“I told Okpoti to sign a contract to fight Azumah if he wants to have his chance and he accepted the challenge and the fight occurred.”
“I remember Azumah vowing to stop Okpoti in seven rounds should it rain and he did exactly as predicted.”
At this time, the revered promoter felt Azumah was ripe and decided to take him to US for a training tour. They were supposed to stay in London for a week per their travelling arrangement before transiting to America.
During their one week stay in the United Kingdom, Mr Captan met the then Press Secretary to the World Boxing Council (WBC), Bobby Aidoo, who informed him that Azumah can challenge for the African title.
“He asked me to cancel the trip to US so we can lobby for the fight for Azumah. I had to leave Azumah to train with the Atkinsons in Liverpool so I can go to Nigeria to arrange for the fight with Joe Skipper.”
“When the fight was drawing closer, there was a coup d’etat by Rawlings which was accompanied by a curfew. We, however, managed to get Joe Skipper in town after the curfew was lifted and Azumah won again.”
Azumah’s reward for knocking Skipper out and becoming an African champion was a Peugeot car from Mr Captan. It was time for the new continental champion to leave for London to continue his progress.
Split with Azumah
Mr Captan quickly arranged for Azumah to leave with the Atkinsons in Liverpool to continue training under them. When the day for his departure was nearing, his manager became worried because he was not able to reach him.
“All my attempts to reach out to him after his triumph over Skipper were in vain. I sent Nii Anum Thompson to get him and that was when he came to my office.”
“Azumah’s problem was that his father had complained about me leaving him in London when we were supposed to go to US. I was like; I did that to get you the African championship which would get you into the WBC ratings.”
After several conversations, Azumah told Mr Captan that he would have to consult his father before taking a decision on whether to make the trip to the United Kingdom.
“The late Bobby Aidoo told me that people were influencing him so I vowed never to come back with him as a manager because I was furious.”
“A few days later, a chief at Mamprobi, called Nii Ababio, sent for me and upon reaching there, I saw Azumah and his father with [a bottle of] Schnapps.”
The chief begged Mr Captan to forgive them and get back together but he stood on his grounds and refused to work with Azumah ever again.
“Azumah was loyal to me throughout our relationship because I knew several people tried convincing him when we were together but he refused.”
“Even after refusing to take him back, Azumah came back to my office a month later to ask me to rethink our split. He said he doesn’t want anyone to eat from my foundation when he becomes a world champion.”
“At this point, my pride took the better of me and I still rejected his proposal. Azumah was God sent because every prediction he gave me about his career came to pass.”
After that conversation, Azumah teamed up with Ringcraft Promotions, a new management and promotional boxing syndicate founded by businessmen Dr Oko Kwatekwei, Seth Ansah and John Kofi Kermah.
The rest is history.
“Azumah even asked his lawyers to write to me over compensation but I refused to take anything from them. I was glad he achieved success with Ringcraft but I never regretted my decision to let him go.”
“His determination and humility got him to where he wanted to. We are still close friends because I know he did his part to get us back but I refused.”