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Sports News | Jun 7, 2004

Government to develop a package for retired sports heroes

GNA

Accra, June 7, GNA - The President, John Agyekum Kufuor has said that Government was working on a package to improve the living standards of past sports heroes in the country.

He said " most of our past sports heroes performed for the love they had for the various sports disciplines and Ghana has come of age and we will see what we can do to reduce the hardships some of them are facing".

President Kufuor gave the assurance when the Ghanaian Boxing legend, Professor Barima Azumah Nelson accompanied by some retired boxers and members of the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu on Monday.

Barima Azumah was at the Castle to bid farewell to President Kufuor before he leaves for New York to be honoured into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

President Kufuor said the Government appreciates the honour made to the country by the past sports heroes and efforts would be made to ensure they lead decent lives.

To Barima Azumah, President Kufuor said he had all the attributes that made him successful in his career describing them as talents, distinguished training, perseverance and show of great nationalism that need to be emulated by all.

"I am very proud of you, you have done your best in boxing and I expect others to excel in their various fields of endeavour". Barima Azumah said it was an honour that his efforts had been rewarded internationally.

Other retired boxers who accompanied him included David Kotei Poison, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) Featherweight Champion and Nana Yaw Konadu also a former World Boxing champion.

Barima Azumah, 46, became a professional boxer in 1979 after a distinguished amateur career during which he amassed eight gold medals and two silver medals.

He won medals at regional games, world military games, Africa Games, Commonwealth Games and the World Boxing Championship.

As a professional, Azumah won his first world title in December 1984 when he emerged from obscurity in Africa to shock the world when he knocked out Wilfredo Gomez of Puerto Rico in 11 rounds in San Juan to win the WBC featherweight title.

Barima Azumah successfully defended the title seven times before moving up to dethrone Mario 'Azabache' Martinez in 1987 to win the Super Featherweight title.

He lost the Super Featherweight title in a points' decision to Jesse James Leija in 1993 but regained it in a sensational Technical Knock Out (TKO) over Gabriel Ruelas in 1995.

Barima Azumah announced his retirement from the ring at the WBC Convention in Johannesburg in 1999.

At that Convention, the WBC proclaimed Barima Azumah as Africa's Greatest Boxer of all time who held three world titles and badges of honour.

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