Azumah Nelson hits 65

On his return home after a rematch against Jeff Fennech, the Australian boxer in 2008, Azumah Nelson replied journalists at a press conference, “I beat him like father and son.” It was a funny response but the truth was that Nelson brutalized the Aussie boxer nicknamed “The Marrickville Mauler” after a couple of fights had been controversially judged. Such were many of his post-bout statements that became famous.

A diminutive person, Azumah Nelson, nicknamed The Professor, Zoom and the Terrible Warrior stood at 5 ft 5 in (165 cm) with a reach of 68 in (173 cm) is a former Ghanaian professional boxer who competed from 1979 to 2008. Azumah is widely considered one of the greatest African boxers of all time having been elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame. BoxRec ranks Azumah as the 31st greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time. Nelson was born on July 19, 1958 in Accra. He got the nickname Professor because he claimed he taught his opponents lessons in the ring.

Fighting as an amateur, Nelson won the gold medals at the 1978 All Africa Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games. In the same year, the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) honored Azumah with the Amateur Boxer of the year.

Azumah Nelson developed a powerful punching power that put many an acclaimed powerful boxer on the canvas. Jeff Fennech, the fierce Australian boxer was knocked out at the 7thround and in his remarks after the fight he admitted that Nelson was “a great boxer and he proved it tonight.”  Azumah said he beat Fennech up “to show him his mistakes.” That was Nelson the Professor.

One of Azumah Nelson’s famous post-bout statements was recorded after his fight with Barry McGuigan, the WBA world champion, who touted himself as the best in the featherweight division. Nelson was then the WBC champion. In a strategic move to call out McGuigan, Nelson in his post-statement after his match with Pat Cowdell in which he knocked out Cowdell said, “I came to knock him out in the first round because the people here don’t treat us good. They made all kinds of ways to take the title from us but I came here to prove that I am the best in the world.”

He describes further how he knocked out Cowdell in round 1. “As soon as the bell went, he came straight to me and I said to myself I am going to knock him out in the first round. So I took my time and he started jabbing me and I took him with a left uppercut. You men I am too bad baby.” To Mcguigan, he said, Mcguigan is a good fighter but there is no way he is going to go four rounds past me because I got my power, I got the experience. I got everything too much than Mcguigan and I call him a girl because he is scared of me.” Unfortunately the fight never happened. It was also Nelson’s reaction to the anti-African racism that existed in the boxing environment in which most African boxers were denied their fights or cheated by judges.

The Terrible Warrior revealed how a conversation with late Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings during him camping at the National boxing Training school. He explained that he was drafted into the Ghana Army Boxing team purposely to stop an American military boxer who was unstoppable and unbeatable. While at the training camp, he continued, Mr. Rawlings, then a junior officer would virtually forage for food, beans and yams sometimes without any stew, but he never told anyone until years later when he told them that he borrowed beans for them at his own expense and also cleaned up their boarding facilities for them when they left for training.

“One day, I approached him – Rawlings – and suggested to him that I wanted to join the army. He looked me in the face and said no. He told me the spirit in me is beyond the military so I should stick to boxing because that’s where my greatness will come from. I heeded to his advice.”

On hearing that Rawlings had led a coup in 1979 he was not surprised. “To be honest I was least surprised. He was so selfless and didn’t want people to be cheated. People can have other opinions about him but I got to know him from times he was unknown and I always felt his desire.”

Azumah Nelson went to become a three-time world boxing champion in the WBC and WBA featherweight and super-featherweight divisions. He held the WBC featherweight title from 1984 to 1987 and the super-featherweight championship title twice between 1988 and 1997.

Amandla salutes the Champion on his 65 birthday. A few men ever made their country proud as he. Oman Ghana da wo ase a, ensa. May the good Lord grant you long life and prosperity.

Posted by on Jul 30 2023. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply