Azumah extols Zambian boxing
By Shamaoma Musonda -
LEGENDARY boxer Azumah Nelson has hailed the sudden sharp rise in fortunes in Zambian boxing and predicted the country will produce a world champion in the World Boxing Council (WBC) category.
But as Nelson, who is remembered for defeating Zambian hero Charm ‘Shuffle’ Chiteule to a featherweight Commonwealth title in 1982, was heaping praise on Zambia, he warned discipline was the most important factor in a boxer’s career.
Speaking to journalists in Lusaka yesterday just after meeting Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili, Nelson said it took a lot to produce a world champion and that all the stakeholders needed to play their part perfectly.
“Zambian boxing is doing well right now and you are having indicators to produce a WBC champion soon. You need to have especially good coaches to handle the talented boxers, good managers, dedicated Government and also officials.
“Zambia I can see you already have a WBC official in Nelson Sapi, that helps a great deal by knowing what is happening, but discipline in the boxers in very important. Once you lose discipline, you have lost it,” the Ghanaian said.
Nelson, a three-time world champion in two weight categories of the famed WBC, is Africa’s most celebrated boxer.
He said his mission in Zambia was to grace the Africa Boxing Union (ABU) double title bill between Zambia’s Catherine Phiri and Uganda’s Toma Hawa Babirye, and Charles Manyuchi who takes on Ghanaian Isaac Sowah tomorrow at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
Nelson, who appeared on the WBC Hall of Fame, is a two-time WBC super-featherweight champion and former WBC featherweight champion.
He also won the African title in the two weight categories as well as the Commonwealth featherweight title against Chiteule in 1982.
“Charm ‘Shuffle’ was great, he was an excellent boxer and when I fought him, it was for the Commonwealth title and the winner became champion. So it was a high profile fight. He was not champion because I became one.
“But I remember him as a great boxer. I felt bad when I heard of his death because he was still fairly young when he died. He still had a lot of knowledge to give to the sport.
“We had a great fight and I remember Lottie (Mwale) as well. We met, but we did not fight as amateurs at the world championships,” he said.
And Sports Minister Kambwili hailed Nelson’s visit to Zambia and described him as a boxing icon who would inspire a lot of young boxers to take their careers to a higher level.
“We are happy as a country to have this great man here. Thanks to Oriental for bringing him. As a minister who wants the sport to thrive, I have invited him to come to Zambia at a later stage to give our sport a boost.
“I want him to conduct some clinics, give boxers pep talks and encourage more boxers to aim higher. He is a boxing icon and I am happy he is in the country and we shall try and tap some knowledge from him,” Kambwili said.
ABU commissioner Sapi described Nelson as a great boxer whose presence would inspire the boxers tomorrow to give it their best and prove that there was still some good boxing left in the world.