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14.12.2004 Boxing

Attoh Quarshie, the boxing gym of the moment

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By Richard Avornyotse, GNA Sports Desk

Accra, Dec 14, GNA - Situated within the premises of City Engineers at James Town in Accra, Attoh Quashie Boxing Gymnasium is becoming the hub of boxing in Ghana.

The gym, which functions in a rectangular hall measuring not more than 14 feet by 28 feet is the rendezvous of the cr=E8me de la cr=E8me of Ghanaian boxers today.

The roll call includes James Obedi Toney, WBC International and Commonwealth middleweight champion, Charles the Crusader Adamu, former Commonwealth super middleweight champion, Anyetei, "the Chameleon" Laryea, Ghana's most colourful boxing artist at the moment and Joseph "the King Kong" Agbeko, former bantamweight champion of the defunct World Boxing Federation (WBF)

Others are Kotey Ashie, Most Valuable Boxer (MVB) of the Mortein Boxing League, Alex Brew, the hard-hitting lightweight contender, Philip Kotey, Raymond Mills and Frank Frimpong among others. Apart from the big names, which described themselves as potential world champions, the gym is also the training venue of scores of amateur boxers.

"Because of the large number of boxers that we train, we are compelled to have two sessions of training a day. The amateurs report at 13:30 and train for two hours, while the professionals start at 16:00. "In fact, when some of the boxers have fights, we extend our time from four to five hours of hard work every day," said Godwin Nii Dzane Kotey, head coach of the gym who is popularly referred to in boxing circles as "Alloway."

By one o'clock in the afternoon, the gym begins to bubble as young boys start arriving, hanging sports bags at their backs.

They enter a small room measuring about 10 by 10 feet, which is adjacent to the main hall and change into their boxing gears and by half past one, real business begins.

Activities the boxers go through include skipping, exercises of various dimensions, shadow boxing, pad work, shots at the punching bag, sparring and theory.

Scores of boxing fans, who besiege the gym every afternoon religiously applaud the boxers when they show exceptional class in any of the schedule activities. They even chant and urge them on when they spar, thus inciting them to give everything their all.

Boldly inscribed on the wall of the gym, facing the 10 by 10 feet ring that lies in the middle of ring are words of inspiration; "no pain, no guts, no wits, no will, no gain, no glory," that remind the boxers that after all the toil, there is success and wealth at the end "We make them realise that it is only hard work that yields good results and unless the results are good, one does not break away from poverty so we emphasise hard work and dedication and that has been the secret of our success so far," said head coach Alloway.

Supported by his assistants, Vincent Akai Netey and the pad man, Osman Nii Armah Brew, the gym runs most of the activities simultaneously with each coach supervising one segment of training at a time, leaving the boxers with no breathing space for as long as a training session lasts.

The sparring sessions are the most exciting as the boxers trade real, solid punches at each other with the coaches shouting instructions to make them raise the tempo and increase their power and speed or multiply the number of punches they throw in a fight.

Coach Alloway said they make the boxers experience real fight situations at training so that they would not be physically and mentally prepared and have the desire to win before they go into contests or championship fights.

Despite the rigidity of the regiment, the boxers appeared to enjoy the torture of their bodies and were willing to oblige at every instruction and activity.

Most of them expressed absolute confidence in their trainers and believed they would be world champions one day.

Charles Adamu said he regretted the loss of his Commonwealth belt but promised he would give Ghana a world title within two years. James Toney felt he had improved upon his precision and power since joining Attoh Quarshie gym and asked Benard Hopkins and the other big guys in the middleweight class to get ready for a showdown, while Alex Brew said there was no gym in the whole country like Attoh Quarahie. He conveyed the aspirations of most of the boxers when he said, "in two to three years, Ghana will have at least five world champions from Attoh Quarshie gym because our coaches are very serious and we are also very serious."

But with all the zeal and determination being exuded by the coaches and the boxers, the gym lacks modern amenities and equipment for training.

There are no speedballs, no medicine balls, no gym equipment and the only ring available has a wooden floor, while the head-gears used are old and overused. Even amateur boxers provide their own jelly before they spar.

May someone go to the aid of the gym, which trains our potential world champions and has succeeded in getting some of the youth out of the streets and away from crime; the gym which won the maiden Mortein Boxing League and trains many amateur boxers who would bring laurels to mother Ghana. 14 Dec 04

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