Japanese born Ghanaian, Andy Hiroaka Codjoe returns home with WBO Asia Pacific Super Lightweight title

By Sammy Heywood Okine
Boxing Japanese born Ghanaian, Andy Hiroaka Codjoe returns home with WBO Asia Pacific Super Lightweight title
MAR 13, 2023 LISTEN

Japanese Born Ghanaian, Andy Hiroaka Codjoe aka The Blade returned home on Friday morning with the WBO Asia Pacific Super Lightweight Title in his grips.

Andy Hiraoka Codjoe become champion on 13th September 2022 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

He is trained by his dad, Coach Justice Codjoe who was born and bred at Korle Gonno.

On arriving in Accra, they drove through the principal streets including Bukom to their home to greet family members and friends,

According to former GOC Deputy General Secretary and President of Ghana Squash Federation who is handling the media coverage of the return of Andy to his roots, they will pay courtesy calls on some dignitaries in Ghana.

He said Andy Hiraoka Codjoe has always wanted to visit his roots, and he is very happy to be in Ghana.

Andy was born and raised in a small suburb of Yokohama, Japan.

Born to a Japanese mother and a Ghanaian father, Andy looks very different to most other Japanese people and yet he is quintessentially Japanese.

He speaks softly and politely, is humble and gracious, treats people around him with respect, and doesn’t show any signs of being flashy.

“When I was younger I wasn’t that good at making friends and because I looked different to the other kids, I often encountered bullying at school. I was always conscious of people what people were saying and thinking about me” he told Boxing News 24.

Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world with Japanese nationals making up approximately 98.5% of the population, with a further one per cent being made up by Chinese and Koreans, leaving the remaining small portion made up of ‘all the rest’.

Andy experienced another struggle in the form of the strict upbringing he had from his father.

From the age of four, Andy’s father, Justice, introduced a regime of boxing training into his life. ‘There were times I really didn’t want to do it, but my father insisted and so it was a struggle that I had to persist with until around the age of 11 or 12, that was the age I started to train on my own accord.” I asked about the relationship he had with his father then, and the role his mother played in his upbringing. “If my father was the fire in my life then my mother was the water. When he was tough on me my mother would be there to console me, together they provided a balance in my upbringing”.

Hiraoka turned professional at the age of 17 whilst a member of a small gym, the Hanagata gym. But already from a young age, his father and associates were struggling to find opponents for him as he had developed a reputation for being both physically and technically strong.

Shortly after turning pro, he felt like the gym wasn’t able to get him the enough fights and that his career needed an injection of development and so took it upon himself to travel to the US and spend some time training at the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas.

He travelled with his mum and stayed with relatives on his father’s side of the family for a three-month stint. Although the experience was an important one, it didn’t yield the results he had expected. “The atmosphere was very different to anything I had experienced before. There were so many people coming and going. There wasn’t a sense of togetherness. When I would spar, sometimes people from the other corner would boo me and even be rude to my mother. I didn’t expect that”. Not feeling like staying there would be beneficial in the long term, he left and tried his hand at a couple of other gyms in the States with the hope of further build up his experience with other trainers across the pacific.

He ultimately returned to Japan at which time his father got in touch with the former world champion and owner of Ohashi Gym, Hideyuki Ohashi. “I made contact with Ohashi about Andy”. I asked if Ohashi knew who Andy was. Justice let out a big smile and with a clap of his hands exclaimed: “of course, he knew who he was, he used to come to watch Andy spar from a young age.”

Andy’s father who has been training his son since the age of four was also in the gym, speaking fluently in Japanese to other fighters, giving them pointers. He graciously responded to my request to speak with him about his son. I soon realised he was a man with many stories. Born and raised in Ghana, Justice Codjoe has spent time in many different countries including the US where he met Andy’s mother.

According to Justice, he himself was a boxer in Ghana, a country renowned for its ability to churn out world champions, and even came up with the great Azumah “The Professor” Nelson. He claims that they trained in the same gym when they were both amateurs but before a major international tournament, there was an internal dispute involving management that meant Justice wasn’t able to go and represent his country. “Azumah came back with a gold medal. I’m not saying that if I went that I would have become a successful professional boxer, but there you go”. I asked him how he found himself in Japan and got an unexpected response. “When I was younger, I vividly remember having this dream. In the dream, I was an old man and I had my own boxing gym in the far-East”. He mentioned at the time he had little knowledge of the far-East but for some reason, it was a dream that stuck with him. “When I was with my wife, who I met in the US, she talked about going to Japan”.

He moved over here and ended up with three children; two daughters, and his son Andy. Justice has spent time across the continents of Africa, Europe, America and Asia. He has the face of a wise man who has had many experiences. According to Boxing News 24.