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14.12.2010 Boxing

Valiant Agbeko, Thanks EOCO!

By Graphic Sports - Daily Graphic
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Against the din of the EOCO-GFA palaver, Ghana’s boxing prodigy, Joseph King Kong Agbeko, last Saturday night fought valiantly to reclaim his IBF bantamweight title from Yohnny Perez of Colombia who had dispossessed him of the crown barely a year ago.

We salute the King Kong for his singular feat that already puts him in Ghana’s Boxing Hall of Fame as the only Ghanaian boxer, after the legendary Azumah Nelson, to become two-time world champion, just as we relish the prospect of him becoming the only Ghanaian ever to win the unified titles at bantamweight.

Indeed, we take pride in the heroics of Agbeko, and while we also praise the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) for being steadfast behind the boxer during his time of adversity, it is time we reminded ourselves of the need to be supportive of our athletes all the time and not only when success beckons.

For, as they say, success has many fathers while failure is orphaned. And, as to be expected, next Tuesday when the champion makes a triumphant return home from the United States, all manner of characters, from the topmost to the street urchins, will position themselves to associate with him and savour the victory.

But it must be said again for Samir Captan’s GBA that quietly its hard work is bearing multiple fruits, judging from the near-zero title situation it inherited shortly after 2008 to the eight international boxing champions we have currently.

We dare say that had it been in the arena of football, all manner of ugly noises would have been heard by now as to why a case must be made for the independence of the body controlling that game in the country or why interference of any sort should not be brooked from any quarter.

The argument is out there that the GFA has moved from being an amateur body to become a professional one superintending over highly salaried players for it to be accorded the independent status that it deserves, which was why some had long held rather erroneously that the FA could not be investigated by any body or agency external to it.

But is the GFA more professional in outlook and practice than the GBA which even does not have the luxury of government funding the boxers whom it superintends, as in the case of the GFA and the various national football teams?

When Agbeko began to train for the title rematch, no government funding was advanced to him for training, nor was any air fare, per diem or winning bonus paid to him by the state, as has been the case with our footballers and their officials.

Yet, the nation was accorded the honour and pride of place on the night that the self-sponsored Agbeko fought, as the national anthem was played, with the Ghana flag in the background in similar fashion as when the football teams undertake national assignments.

It is, therefore, a shame that at a time when the whole country virtually came to a standstill because of football chiefs’ flexing of muscles, as it were, that a constitutionally mandated agency of state was interfering in their privacy by moving into their premises for documents relevant to investigations into its affairs, Agbeko went out virtually without the nation’s support to defend the flag of the country.

Perhaps the largesse from government to the national football teams and the apparent over-concentration on the affairs of football in the country, to the neglect of other disciplines, have left the GFA spoilt for choice to even begin to think that theirs is a no-go area except for those privileged members.

Now the tune is changing. They are saying the GFA can be investigated and is not above the laws of the country. Thanks to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for its recent action which might have informed the new thinking.

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