Ghana’s Fighting Spirit

Azumah Nelson boxing

Ike Quartey boxing Oscar de la Hoya

Joshua Clottey boxing Zab Judah

There is a common link between the three fighters pictured above (those throwing punches). Each was born in Ghana and eventually became world champions. Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, and Joshua Clottey are just three of many successful fighters who harnessed their skills in the poor lands of Ghana.

Below is a brief video that highlights the popularity of boxing in Bukom, Ghana. As you will see, the environment is harsh. You will not find any fancy equipment in these gyms. Fortunately, the lack of equipment has not led to a lack of results. On the contrary, these poor lands continue to develop dominant fighters at the highest level.

Those familiar with this blog may recall seeing similar examples from areas such as Brazil, Uganda, and Cuba. Below are links to three previous entries:


“You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.” – Walt Schmidt


  1. I thought it was Willie Pastrano who said that, “It’s hard to wake up and do roadwork if you sleep in silk pajamas,” but it might have been another fighter, but anyhow poverty or desperation will always produce the best boxers. First it was the Irish, next the Italians, then American blacks and hispanics, and now it’s the Eastern Europeans who are making their mark in boxing. Seems like as each group worked its way out of poverty and started living more comfortably or they had better or less risky opportunities to make a living besides something as brutal as boxing their participation or success in the sport declined. Muhammad Ali was an exception in that he grew up in a comfortable middle class environment. From Jack Dempsey to Joe Frazier to Roberto Duran to PacMan the roll call of boxing’s champions almost always came from dirt poor backgrounds. The Bible says something along the lines of it being harder for a rich man to get to heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle, well double that for a rich man to ever start out rich and succeed in boxing.

  2. It’s good that in sports such as boxing the playing field is “slightly” more level. I am seeing a cycle which is very worrisome, but I’m seeing it in the younger American generation and I believe that we will not see the full effects until later. Children from a certain background receive top notch S&C services, the latest updates in Sports Medicine and biomechanic/ performance evaluations. They network with the right people, have parents to help protect them and navigate through the system and the “blueprint 2 success.” On the other hand you have a child with a dream but no direction. I know that in America there is the idea of the land “of opportunity.” But the phrase “of opportunity” means that if you sweat your **** off, have mental discipline, sacrifice, receive a luck break then you have a chance of reaching your dream. It may not be much of a chance but it is a chance. Sorry, I did not mean to start a rant. I’m just a little bit passionate about this. I’ve talked with older adults with a wealth of information – but they received it too late. Talents that were never utilized. Young adults who had a dream, who had a fire in them – fighting to escape the negative cycle that has been created throughout generations. Their fire has been extinguished by life. And children with old eyes, too scared too hope. Maybe I see this because of what I am surrounded by. But situations such as Ghana (at least I feel) that they are becoming more rare and in a few years we will really see the evidence of this. To combat it, what that Coach is doing in Ghana is absolutely remarkable, every day for years this Coach walks into the same facility and inspires. Even though his own reality has been, and may always be that place he still has a dream to share with others. And that is something that we can all do 🙂 (so sorry for the super long comment, I promise to never do it again!)

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