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24.12.2004 Sports News

Adama Mensah — Former African Heavyweight Champion

By Vance Azu for Graphic

Adama Mensah, a former African and West African heavyweight champion,was one Ghanaian boxer who ventured into boxing just to prove a point that he could be a super champion if he was given the chance.

And true to this challenge,which he threw at his father and mentor,the late Kid Hesse,the founder of the Marconi Boxing Club,he was able to outshine all the boxers he came to meet in the trade as well as those he started with.

Just a year after he started boxing as an amateur, he managed to excel creditably, at the tender age of 14 years,to become the middleweight champion during a special boxing tournament organised in honour of the former American heavyweight champion, Archie Moore, when he visited Ghana in 1973.

Adama outpunched all his challengers and was adjudged the best boxer in the tournament.According to Adama, when he was a young boy, he regularly visited two boxing clubs in his area at Osu, the Marconi and Roger Boxing clubs. One other popular Ghanaian boxer at the time, Scorpion Ofosu, was a member of the Marconi Club and stayed with Adama's dad, Kid Hesse.

Initially, he had no interest in fisticuffs because of the hard punches the boxers had to contend with. However, he was able to overcome that fright, having realised that he could do far better than the boxers he had been watching. Adama, therefore, in 1972 started training at the Marconi gym and after his maiden fight in 1973, he was motivated and encouraged by his victory and took the sport serious.

After that marvellous performance, he was selected to represent Ghana as an assistant to Joe Kalala in 1974, when he fought a Nigerian boxer at the El-Wak Stadium during the All Africa Games.

He had the opportunity to prove his mettle when Kalala was banned during the games for assaulting a referee. “In 1975, I was in terrific form and started beating all my opponents, left and right, in the heavyweight division,” he stated, adding that he was crowned the national and West African champion.

He lost one crucial fight to the Ivorian champion but won decisively in the return fight when he kayoed him within two minutes of the fight.He later went to the former East Germany with Azumah Nelson, Mohammed Coffie, Peter Mensah and Baba Sumaila, where he spent six months under one coach Schwarz, a session he described as highly beneficial.

On his return, he fought for and annexed the ECOWAS heavyweight title and with it the gold medal. He was at the All Africa Games in 1978 where he won gold; Commonwealth Games,(1978) where he won silver, and the World Military Games in Nigeria the same year where he was a gold medalist.

In 1979, he captained one of Africa's teams to participate in the World Cup Boxing tournament where he won bronze, and another bronze at the All Africa Games in Libya. He turned professional in 1980 and fought Addo Ray Arthur to become the national champion in a fight in which he stopped his opponent in round five.

In 1982, he took the African title from Joe Kalala in a fight he won in round 12 at the El-Wak Stadium. When he attempted to defend the title in Zimbabwe, he lost the African crown to Reel Kilimanjaro. The referee stopped the fight in round eight.

According to him, “I decided to stop boxing after that fight but changed my mind. I then fought Ray Acquaye, who was then managed by the late Tommy Thompson and Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere.I again deliberately gave away the crown to enable me to participate in a fight in South Africa.”

1983 was a busy year for Adama who had a lot of fights against Nigerian boxers, including Nkweku Ngozika, from whom he reclaimed the West African title.

Sadly enough, when Adama was about to have a shot at the WBC title against Ebby Hive, his employers, the Ghana Prisons Service, expressed its displeasure and gave him the option to remain in the service and work or continue to be a professional boxer.

“That, coupled with a frame-up story that I was plotting to overthrow the PNDC regime, made me to leave the service and hang my gloves in 1985. My arrest and detention for three days resulted in the death of my mother. "Moreover, I did not get fights because most heavyweight boxers were afraid of me," he added.

Even though he has quit boxing, he continues to b e in good shape by going through rigorous training sessions. He insists that the so-called macho men should stop flexing their muscles and rather go into boxing, since they could end up in great fortune.

Adama was born on September 3, 1957 to Madam Akweley Zice, a trader at the Makola Market, and the late Emmanuel Kwei Foli, a carpenter.He started work with the Ghana Prisons Service and later worked with the American Embassy. He is currently with the Judicial Service.

He is married with eight daughters.Football and horse racing are his favourite pastimes.He worships at the Word Miracle Church International

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