President Akufo-Addo yesterday let out one of his hidden secrets growing up as a child at Swalaba in Accra.
This was when leadership of the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) led by its President, Peter Zwennes called on him at the presidency to invite him for a boxing bout scheduled for Accra Sports Stadium come Saturday, March 11, as part of activities marking the country’s year-long independence anniversary celebration.
Akufo-Addo talked of how his love and passion for the game of boxing made him nicknamed himself ‘Kid Gavilan’ after the famous world welterweight champion from Camaguey in Cuban, Gerardo Gonzalez.
Born on January 6, 1926, Gavilan who was also known as the ‘Cuban Hawk’ died at a hospital in Miami, Florida of heart attack at age 77 on February 13, 2003.
While welcoming leadership of the Authority and some of the country’s great boxers to the Flagstaff House in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo revealed “I grew up as a young man in Swalaba and Korle-Wokon and Surpriser Sowah’s gym was around the corner in Bukom; so as a young boy who is active, I used to spend a lot of time in Surpriser Sowah’s gym.”
At the time, he said “I became so addicted to the sport that when I was a young boy I gave myself a nickname, I called myself ‘Kid Gavilan’.”
That was just to explain his love for the sport.
But growing up, in the era of the great Roy Ankrah, famously known as the ‘Black Flash’ who put Ghanaian boxing on the map, Akufo-Addo said “I remember seeing as a young boy Attuquaye Clottey fight; I saw the London kid [Vincent Okai] fight here in Accra.”
Since that time, he said “we’ve had a succession of great outstanding champions and many of them have graced this house today; D.K Poison, Ike Bazooka Quartey, Nana Yaw Konadu, Joseph Agbeko.”
For him, “these are people whose names should be enshrined in letters of gold in our history; they have enhanced the image of our country.”
He paid glowing tribute to some of the country’s great boxers who have passed on to glory.
“I was at the sports stadium in Accra on the night Floyd Kotei Robertson fought Sugar Raynolds; I saw that fight with my own eyes”, re recalled, saying “it was one of the decisions all of us who were there will never agree with; he beat Sugar Raynolds that night.”
He was of the belief “he [referring to Floyd Kotei Robertson] should have been the first world champion even before Poison. But there it is, he lost it; very funny decision and everybody who knows about boxing knows about decisions.”
He also recalled that not too long ago “at my mother’s funeral, some 13years ago in 2004, Freddie Blay who was the then First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and today the acting National Chairman of the party, the younger brother of Eddie Blay, went through my mother’s brochure which had been put together by my sister and came across a picture of me as a young boy in a boxing pose and put it in the front page of his paper and therefore he made famous my life long association with this sport.”
The President has since pledged his government’s commitment to support the revival and growth of all sports, especially boxing.
That, he said, was the reason his government had increased allocation to sports in this year’s budget.
On his part, President of the Authority, Peter Zwennes thanked the President for the opportunity and his commitment to the game of boxing, expressing hope that the President would help develop lesser known sports in the country.
Akufo-Addo had also promised to grace the Saturday’s round of fights at the Accra Sports Stadium.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent