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09.08.2006 Feature Article

A complaint: What a disgrace!

A complaint: What a disgrace!
LISTEN AUG 9, 2006

"Disgrace! It's a disgrace," yelled DiBella as a stunned Quartey paced the Theater at Madison Square Garden in disbelief” was how the New York Post reported it. The reaction from Ike's promoter, DiBella, summed up a night of disappointment, shame, and boxing politics. One American commentator wondered if the judges at the Quartey-Forrest fight were not punishing Ike Quartey for a “sin” committed by the Black Stars. To be honest, I was not going to write about this subject. I have never been that exasperated since the unorthodox defeat that the senior national team, the Black Stars suffered at the hands of the Brazilian national team.
Not many people gave Ike Quartey a dog chance against Vernon Forrest, who undoubtedly is one of the fiercest and ruthless fighters in the junior middleweight division. Prior to the match he may have been out of the ring for a long time but listening to some Ghanaians talk; it was obvious there was cautious optimism among them. Probably except for Mr. Moses Foh Amoaning, whom I thought was making a political statement with his “I am confident Ike will win,” doubt was rife in some circles. However, even babies who watched the Ike Quartey-Vernon Forrest fight would know that Ike Quartey proved some doubting Thomases wrong with his blistering attack characterized by pace and unrelentless jabbing boxing against Forrest. It was easy for anyone to identify who boxed and who was boxed. I have watched several boxing matches, which witnessed some unfair officiating and sometimes characterized by open protest from the victim's side but none comes close to the reaction that heralded the judges' decision after the Quartey-Vernon fight. Fans who had come to watch their darling boy Forrest, could not help but shout “bull shit, bull shit” when they learnt that Forrest won on the cards of the judges.
There was no shred of doubt about Quartey's ability in the fight; he proved from the first to the last round that he deserved every bit of the points he won and, perhaps, it was only the judges who saw otherwise. The fans and the promoters of the fight saw it differently and the judges, who, obviously, had some agenda, also saw it differently. Forrest looked dazed and clueless at several points of the match and could only resort to frequent clinching to save himself from a knockout. He only showed glimpses of his 'venomous viper' tag in the first 58 seconds and the last ten (10) seconds of each round as Ike did all the boxing leaving Forrest in search of answers he could never find. Even Vernon Forrest, himself, could not believe he had won. That's how strange it was.
It was a night of shame for boxing and an ugly development.
It was a night of an all-American affair; the boxer was American, the referee was American, and two judges were also from America. Lampley, the American commentator was not far from the truth that “the judges are punishing Ike for Ghana's victory over the USA during the world cup; otherwise this was plain, obvious, midnight robbery.” If this happened to an American boxer, the New York State Athletic Commission will hold the purse of the winner until an investigation has been completed, and most likely a reverse of the verdict. They have done that quite a few times. When the commentator said in the presence of the judges that it was the same reason that made Ike step out of the ring some years ago, he proved why the judges made a mistake, and why they were part of a grand agenda to inflict some wounds on the ever growing ego of Ike Quartey.

Personally, I think that for too long a time teams or sportsmen and women from developing nations have been used to give a good face to the international community. The picture about the politics of the international community is becoming clearer now as the so-called superpowers want to maintain the status quo by bullying the less influential regions. It is becoming increasingly shameful as just a month after the Stars were robbed by referee Michel Lubos, this incident has had to happen. In that world cup game I don't ever think Brazil needed the help of the referee looking at their pedigree. Similarly, Ike may have lost some steam but he did enough o deserve victory on Saturday. There is no doubt that some matches are pre-planned to give some parties some form of an advantage. Perhaps, the forces behind Forrest were so strong that the judges could not have done otherwise. They are surely interested in landing a big fight, which will line the pockets of some people and I will not be surprised if Forrest fights De La Hoya or even Hopkins. That is what the judges and some big forces wanted and they got the results.
Here in America, fans are not happy as report after report criticizes the verdict of the judges. “DISGRACEFUL—this is one reason why boxing is losing fans; the casual fan thinks every fight is fixed. Quartey won fair and square” was how one American fan, Murphy, put it” while another, Marcus, wrote “I was rooting for Forrest and I was disappointed because I was 100 percent certain after the 10th round that he lost a decision. He just didn't look too sharp and even though he had some good moments and the fight was close, I don't think he deserved the win, especially after the point deduction from the low blow from Forrest; I thought that there was no hope for my man to win and that Quartey was too far ahead on points. It was competitive, but surely Quartey was the dominant force in the ring and I can't dispute that. I feel that Forrest is a true warrior that needed that last moment of glory (most likely) tainted controversial decision like that wasn't exactly what I had in mind.”
My problem, here, is our “let's leave it to God attitude.” Ghana particularly, has been at the receiving end of such unfair officiating and decisions since Adam and no serious attempts have been made to seek redress when they do happen. The African game, for instance, is so much fraught with corruption and senseless dastardly treatments; a Ghanaian team goes to another African country for a football match and it is treated poorly by the host nation, while the officials of the game display open bias but, as a nation, our musings last only for a day. Supporters from Ghana go to Egypt to render support to the Black Stars and they are sent back home without their luggage as if they are criminals and nothing has been done about it to date by our officials. As if that was not enough, the Congolese women's national team fails to report for a game and CAF had the gut to compel Ghana agree to a replay of the game as if it was the fault of the Black Queens to hold the Congolese team in the air. A country like Nigeria will never allow itself to be treated with such scorn. In fact, the latest response to the GFA's protest to FIFA about the fate the Black Stars suffered at the hands of Brazil (or should I say at the hands of the referee?) is an insult to the FA. FIFA never gave any explanation but only succeeded in heaping praises on the Black Stars to divert the FA's attention from that painful experience. This is sheer politics and the GFA should not give in to that cheap response.
It does not make any sense for our teams and sportsmen to participate in such international events if they will be subjected to such unfair officiating. The hierarchies of the sporting organizations have outlived their usefulness as they keep dancing to the tunes of some forces somewhere. As things stand, sports will always be dominated by the so-called superpowers and the so-called minnows, where they think we belong, will always lurk at the background if not at the periphery. The earlier we see this picture, the better!

Godwin Yaw Agboka
Godwin Yaw Agboka, © 2006

The author has 7 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: GodwinYawAgboka

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