The President of the Ghana Boxing Federation (GBF), Bernard Quartey, has emphatically stressed that the revitalisation of amateur boxing hinges on deliberate and consistent investment to ensure future boxing champions are well nurtured and also guaranteed medals for Ghana on the international stage.
This funding, he emphasised, should encompass various aspects, including regular training, stipends for boxers and dedicated trainers, and access to physiotherapy and psychological support.
"The state must also provide us with the state-of-the-art equipment and create a conducive environment for training and practising the sport," Mr Quartey added as he stressed the critical need for modern facilities.
Speaking candidly about the recent setback where none of the 12 boxers from Ghana, who were taken to the recent African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, was able to secure a slot at the 2024 Olympic Games, the boxing administrator attributed the disappointment suffered by the Black Bombers and the Black Hitters (female team) to a lack of exposure and insufficient investment in the sport. He highlighted the stark contrast between Ghana's minimal international exposure and its competitors' extensive tournament experience in countries such as Cameroun and Morocco, which enabled boxers from these countries to excel at the qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal.
"When you look at our competitors they have been to tournaments in Cameroun and Morocco prior to this [Dakar competition]. We are just going to our first tournament outside the country, how can we beat them in these circumstances?" he told the Daily Graphic.
Nineteen boxers — seven male winners (gold medallists) and 12 females (gold medallist and silver medallists) — from the continent were eligible to qualify for the Olympics at the Dakar Championship. None of Ghana's boxers made it to the medal zone.
The Black Bombers had generated significant excitement and media attention in the lead-up to the qualifiers. Expectations soared even higher when promising light heavyweight
fighter Seth Gyimah, also known as Freezy MacBones, and US-based female Olympic hopeful, Ornella Sathoud, joined the national teams at their pre-tournament training base in Accra.
However, the initial optimism took a nosedive after Gyimah's loss on September 9, followed by more defeats. By the end of the championship, none of the seven male boxers and five female boxers picked tickets for the Summer Olympics in Paris.
Complaining about perceived biased officiating during the competition, Mr Quartey urged the government to sponsor Ghanaian boxing officials to attend officiating courses by the sport's world governing body, AIBA, to enable them to participate alongside AIBA officials from other countries at international events. Such a move, he argued, would promote fairness and respect for Ghanaian boxers.
"When you look at the officials, we don't have any Ghanaians there; they are mostly from North Africa, South Africa, and a few Nigerians. We need to get our people there to ensure fairness," he stated.
He nonetheless was emphatic that Ghana's only way to success and getting medals during international completions at the amateur level relied on heavy investment in the sport and in the welfare of boxers.
"Our boxers don't have a sound mind, they come training asking themselves what will they eat or feed on and how will they survive their families, so if the government provides some form of sustenance for these fighters and invests in equipment, we shall get whatever medal we want at such international competitions," he stated.
Mr Quartey reiterated that the key to success and securing medals in international amateur competitions lay in substantial investment. He noted that many Ghanaian boxers faced challenges related to their basic needs and livelihoods, which negatively impacted their training and performance.
While remaining hopeful, he acknowledged that the Black Bombers and Black Hitters still had a chance to qualify for the Olympics in Italy in February during the next qualifying round, but revealed that the team would be pruned down to select boxers with the brightest prospect of excelling at the qualifying competition in Italy.
However, this will be contingent on funding from the government and prompt investments to enable the national team to compete at the Paris Olympics.