ARTICLE: What next for the Black Bombers?
Boxing once again proved to be the country’s safest bet at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games winning three medals for Ghana.
Featherweight Joseph Commey’s silver, Abraham Mensah’s silver at bantamweight and super lightweight Abdul Wahid Omar’s repeat bronze in Birmingham secured Ghana three medals out of the five won by the country.
It was expected that boxing would not return to Ghana empty handed, given the dominance of the sport for Ghana at the Commonwealth Games and other international competitions.
The nine fighters who represented Team Ghana at the Games could have won more medals than them had the nation invested in residential camping for the team ahead of the trip to Birmingham.
However, the future looks bright for these fighters if only the country makes the decision to adequately prepare them for next year’s African Games to be hosted on their own soil.
Ghana will certainly rely on boxing to win more medals when the continent’s biggest multi-sport competition comes to Accra next year.
The question remains whether some of the fighters who represented the country in Birmingham deserve another shot at the All Africa Games.
The Graphic Sports takes a look at some of the boxers who could leave the national amateur team for next year’s Games to make way for others to fill the void.
Joseph Commey (featherweight)
Commey was a revelation in his first international competition for Ghana with splendid performances that nearly won him gold but for health issues.
The 18-year-old Black Panthers Boxing Gym boxer is a prospect for the future and needs to be nurtured to reach his full potential.
Winning the silver medal on his international debut at the Commonwealth Games is a milestone in his young career and the future can only be bright for him.
He will be one of the fighters to watch at the African Games and the country has a role to play in helping him win gold for Ghana.
Shakul Samed (light heavyweight)
The Olympian’s career could come to an end following the doping scandal which prevented him from taking part in the Games.
Samed was found guilty of taking a banned substance after a routine test at the Games and banned from participating.
Failure to be a drug cheater could certainly deal a devastating blow to his career in the following tournaments which would make it difficult for him to be considered for the national team.
At 23, it’s unclear what Samed will decide about his career next, but being in the next squad for the All Africa Games may not be an option.
Samuel Yaw Addo (Flyweight)
Addo’s inclusion on the team for the Games raised a lot of eyebrows within the boxing fraternity, but he failed to make his presence felt by losing his opening bout.
The Akotoku Academy boxer was chosen over Theophilus Allotey because of his wealth of experience on the international stage, despite his rival winning the individual championship last March.
Allotey had won flyweight gold in the individual championship that was used to select boxers for the Games.
However, Addo’s abysmal performance could mark the end of his time on the Bombers team to create an avenue for others to join the team.
Abraham Mensah (bantamweight)
Another Birmingham silver medalist, Mensah showed class to finish second in the bantamweight division, but his production showed plenty of shine going forward.
Mensah, 19, started the Commonwealth Games campaign in the quarter-finals after earning a bye in the round of 16 and stage 16 respectively.
Despite losing the final to Dylan James Eagleson of Northern Ireland, the Seconds Out Boxing Gym boxer has the potential to go far in the sport.
With Commey, the Ghana team could already be considered medalists at the African Games, with good preparation.
Alfred Kotey (welterweight)
Coming from one of the best gymnasiums in Ghana, Alfred Kotey from Akotoku Academy was a surprise in the Commonwealth Games squad after failing to compete in the individual championship which qualified the boxers for the national team.
Kotey’s first appearance on the international stage was unmotivating. He will have to work harder to prove himself for the continental games next year.
Ornella Sathoud (middleweight)
Born to a Congolese father and a Ghanaian mother, Ornella Sathoud lost in the round of 16 of the women’s middleweight contest.
Although she rose through the educational ranks with a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Delaware, the boxer is keen to earn something for Ghana before quitting.
The African Games could provide that opportunity after his lackluster outing in Birmingham, but the US-based boxer has a lot to learn to be able to win laurels for the country.
Having had two appearances at the Commonwealth Games and an appearance at the All Africa Games in Morocco, now would be the time for Ornella to win a medal for Ghana if she makes the squad for the All Africa Games.
Abdul Wahid Omar (light welterweight)
As a medal hopeful ahead of the Games, Omar lived up to expectations by winning bronze for the country.
The feat earned him two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in three attempts following his feat at the 2014 edition tournament in Glasgow, Scotland.
Omar currently remains the most exposed fighter in the Black Bombers squad and will be instrumental in Ghana’s bid for a medal next year should he decide to continue his amateur career.
Jessie Lartey (light middleweight)
A bronze medalist at the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Lartey was one of the boxers tipped to win a medal for the country.
However, he fell short of expectations after struggling in his weight class at the Games.
Lartey said he complained to Ghanaian officials about his struggles at light middleweight but nothing was done about it.
The coming months will be crucial to decide his fate, but it is clear that Lartey can secure a place in Ghana’s squad for the African Games.
Abubakar Quartey (middleweight)
Quartey was the Black Bombers captain at Birmingham but surprisingly left the competition in the Round of 16.
Making his second Commonwealth Games appearance, the Wisdom Boxing Club product was disappointed to fail to impress in Birmingham and looks set for the future.
Being part of the All Africa Games team is earned, but his presence gives the nation another opportunity to win a medal.