Feature: Where are the promotional outfits?

Author: Bernard Neequaye

Last year was a significant year for promotional outfits in the country after staging many bouts that gave the opportunity to young and upcoming boxers to exhibit their talents on numerous cards.

It was in this same year that the boxing industry saw some new promotional syndicates emerging onto the scene with the likes of Cabic Promotions, E&J Promotions and Dons Promotions all having a successful year under review.

Patrick Allotey won his WBO Africa super welterweight title and successfully defended it twice against Badru Lusambya and Sherif Kasongo under Cabic Promotions in 2018 while Wasiru “Gyatabi” Mohammed beat Isaac Sackey to win the WBO Africa super bantamweight crown that same year.

In fact, it was a really good year for Cabic Promotions who were crowned Promoters of the Year by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG), having staged three shows.

It was the emergence of these outfits that brought back the spirit of the sport at a time when boxing was struggling without much fights locally.

I want to thank Briamah Kamoko alias Bukom Banku and Michael “Powers” Ayitey for being the main architects of boxing revival in the country after their fight in 2014 caught the attention of many in recent times.

One cannot talk about the Banku-Powers fight without acknowledging the good work of Box Office Sports Promotions led by Alex Ntiamoah who went through thick and thin to ensure the bout took place.

The same promotional outfit arranged another grudge and classic fight between Bukom Banku and Bastie Samir in 2017 which has been one of the most watched local fights in history.

I realised that the Rising Star Africa Promotions and Baby Jet Promotions which promoted Isaac Dogboe and Emmanuel “Gameboy” Tagoe respectively have been inactive for sometime now due to reasons best known to themselves.

The recent trend of seeing all these outfits fail to arrange fights is worrying because it directly affect our local fighters who are hoping to use such platforms to showcase themselves.

My biggest concern here has to do with promising boxers losing out their positions in the ratings as well as title holders being stripped of their crowns due to inactivity.



Financial constraints

In Ghana, it is very difficult to promote a fight and make profit due to the huge amount of money involved in staging it.

Not only that, our systems are so poor that promoters are usually not able to make much from the gate proceeds which could have made them some cash and relieve them of their financial stress.

For instance, getting a venue for the fight and paying purses of boxers are usually expensive and make it difficult for upcoming promoters to stay in business.

This is because most of these promoters lose interest after series of losses from staging bouts, making the boxers suffer the consequences.

I remember when Paul Dogboe, father and trainer of Isaac Dogboe, announced in 2018 that his Rising Star Africa Promotions spent close to $400,000 in staging the WBO Interim super bantamweight championship fight between his son and Mexico’s Cesar Juarez at the Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra.

How many promoters have that financial clout to host such a bout and even if they do, how do they break even at the end of the day.

In this case, it was obvious that Paul took the risk of giving Isaac Dogboe the chance to fight for the world championship which paid off when he defeated Jessie Magdaleno in April, 2018 to snatch the WBO world super bantamweight title.

It is only normal that a businessman will choose to avoid investing in fruitless ventures after a while and I’m not surprised at the recent loss of interest from these promoters.

With just two months to end the year, Cabic Promotions are yet to stage a bout whilst Dons Promotions are without a show as well. Baby Jet Promotions managed a single bout in February with E&J Promotions arranging only a show in March.

These were outfits that used to stage three cards in a year but have lost interest due to financial constraints and I believe it is a critical area that must be looked at in order not to end up allowing our fighters to suffer from inactivity.

One thing that I want to suggest to our modern-day promoters is to imitate American boxing promotional syndicates such as Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions who have signed television right deals with ESPN and DAZN respectively in order to make some money on the side.

These contracts help raise monies for the promoters in order to relieve some financial tension as well as brand the boxers through television coverage.



Interventions

Having interacted with several promoters over the years, one major concern which I realised contributed immensely to the lack of promotions recently had to do with the amount of money being charged by the Trust Sports Emporium, owners of the Bukom Boxing Arena.

Several promoters have complained about the amount which they believe must be looked into by the government especially when the venue was built to serve a purpose of developing the sport.

In my opinion, I think something must be done with urgency if we are to witness continuous staging of bouts which will be to the detriment of the boxers.

If this issue of not having an amicable decision on a “reasonable” charge by landlords of the Bukom Boxing Arena to promoters continue to persist, then I bet that careers of fighters will suffer for doing nothing.

After all, “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers” and the earlier the issue is tackled, it is going to be tough for these promoters to raise funds to put their boxers on the bill.

When we decide to overlook it, it will affect the upcoming fighters whose chances of making it at the biggest stage are tied to the local promoters here, and as a mediator, I urge the GBA to serve as a union on behalf of the promoters and boxers whose careers are at risk.