No trainer syndrome must stop!!!

Author: Bernard Neequaye

I knew it was going to end this way for Patrick Allotey the very day he disclosed to me that he was going into his maiden world title fight against Jaime Munguia without his long-time trainer, Ofori Asare, as his cornerman.

It pierced my heart and baffled my mind to hear that Allotey who relished the opportunity to  announce himself at the world stage could be treated as such by his managers after all the labouring to get this once in a lifetime chance.

From the look of things, it looked as if everything was cooked in favour of Munguia just to ensure the Ghanaian light welterweight contender lost to his Mexican opponent who certainly went on to win through a fourth round knockout.

This is not the first time a Ghanaian fighter had complained about his trainer's inability to secure a visa to enable them to travel together for a fight of this magnitude, and I bet this won't stop if the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports will continue to be mute about issues affecting the image of the sport.

In as much as it is the boxer's role to impress in the ring, a lot of things happen behind the scenes to make him mentally fit for a world championship fight which include having his trainer lead him into the ring.

Allotey complained about having been in a state of dilemma as to who would lead him into the fight with Munguia, having failed to travel alongside his trainer, Ofori Asare.

With all these happenings in the build up to the fight, how does one expect Allotey to put up a classic performance against an undefeated and much experienced fighter in Munguia when he was not in the right frame of mind to enter the ring.

Everything about Allotey's preparation for the fight was wrong, especially when he had to arrive in the States three days to the fight after accepting to challenge Munguia at a short notice.

Firstly, every fighter needs to acclimatise to a particular weather ahead of a bout and it is important to arrive at your destination in time so as to get used to the environment before mounting the ring.

Another question remains whether Allotey had a residential camping with good sparring partners ahead of this career defining bout with Munguia. If that was the case, how does his managers and promoters expect him to cope in the ring without a particular trainer who had taken him through camping ahead of the fight.

However, I'm not here to belittle the works of managers in the development of boxers but is it right to have them secure visas to travel for a fight but failed to ensure coach Asare make the trip to take charge of the fight?

Well, it is now becoming a norm for managers to seek their interest over their boxers' careers whenever the opportunity for a world title bout avail itself, and the earlier the GBA and Sports Ministry stepped in, the better for the nation's image in the sport globally.
Otherwise, most of our boxers will continue to perform abysmally at bigger stages due to poor preparations coupled with managers only focusing on their entitlement from the purses of these boxers.

No trainer canker

It has become a reason for our boxers to blame their losses on having to go into fights without their trainers by their side even when it is evident that they were mismatches to their respective opponents.

Sometimes accepting defeat and working your way back stronger shows sportsmanship but a boxer might be right to blame his loss on poor preparations and having to go into a fight without his trainer. Who could be blamed for these happenings? I mean should the focus be on the managers, GBA or Sports Ministry for their neglect of this canker which has done us more harm than good with respect to ensuring a fighter has everything in place for an emphatic victory.

Over the years, several fighters such as Maxwell Awuku, Richard Harrison Lartey, Prince Oko Nartey and recently Patrick Allotey, have all lamented how their trainers were denied visas to travel with them for respective fights.

I bet this canker would continue to halt the progress of our darling sport if authorities don't make it a point to discuss the importance of trainers in boxing to these Embassies who only find vague reasons to deny coaches the chance to travel alongside their fighters.

In February 2018, Awuku travelled to Mexico to challenge WBC super featherweight champion, Miguel Berchelt, without a trainer at a short notice and lost miserably in three rounds. It was evident from the fight that he only agreed to the bout for the financial gains and not to be competitive.

Lartey, who was recently stopped by Daniel Dubois in the United Kingdom complained about the embassy in Accra refusing his trainer visa ahead of the fight, and  suffered the same fate when he fought for the IBO youth light heavyweight title against James Kraft in Germany, with his coach being denied the chance to travel with him.

Boxers interest over managers

Is it too much to ask managers of these boxers to mostly consider putting in place measures that will put an end to Ghanaian fighters travelling for fights without their preferred trainers.

In some cases, boxers are deliberately denied the chance to make these trips outside Ghana to fight in the presence of their trainers by their managers for reasons known to themselves.

In the case of Allotey, his co-managers, Ivan Bruce Cudjoe and Ellis Quaye, were quick to secure themselves visas for the trip to California but failed to do same for coach Asare.

These same managers who own Cabic Promotions and Management did same to their embattled heavyweight signee, Richard Harrison Lartey, in his knockout loss to Daniel Dubois last April when they quickly got themselves visas for the United Kingdom trip only to leave his trainer back home.

I will continue to condemn these embassies who on countless occasions have refused to recognise roles of our boxing coaches in fights but it is time to call on managers to put boxers and their trainers interest above their personal interest.

At least, a confirmation from coach Ofori Asare over how Cabic Promotions and Management toyed with his visa acquisition is an indication of the disregard the boxing syndicate has for the career of Allotey.

This is because, coach Asare was the only person among the supposed entourage to travel for the fight who failed to get a date for an interview session at the US Embassy in Accra despite the managers insistence on having sent his application.

My problem over here has to do with how Allotey's managers could get a date for themselves to acquire visas in order to travel for the fight with their boxer but in that same vein couldn't secure coach Asare the chance to have his time with the Embassy.

"I haven't been able to go for an interview for the visa because I have been waiting for my date and it hasn't come.

"The managers told me they applied for my visa with theirs but as it stands now, they have theirs and they are gone so I don't know what happened to mine," he explained to the Graphic Sports in a recent interview.

If this was what happened in the build up to Allotey's fight with Munguia, then I think the leadership of Cabic Promotions and Management has a lot of answers to provide on how important they value coach Asare's work.

Prior to Allotey's complaints, I have had a chat with Prince Oko Nartey when he returned from his fight in Germany where he lost via a unanimous decision, where he felt ashamed as to how the Embassy could only deny his trainer the chance to travel with him on the basis of not being able to verify his documents.

He was of the view that the German Mission in Accra only resorted to finding an excuse to prevent his trainer from travelling with him for his fight with James Kraft, which he believed contributed to his defeat away from home.

"It is a bad thing to see you training all this while with your coach only to be denied visa to travel with you without any tangible reason by these embassies.

"In my case, I felt my trainer was just denied the visa for no reason because we provided every document to help him travel but he was turned down and his absence really affected my performance in Germany," Nartey narrated to the Graphic Sports upon his return to Ghana.

Pragmatic measures

It is true that the GBA provides release letters to boxers and trainers who are billed to travel abroad for fights but I think as the sanctioning body mandated by law to regulate the sport in the country, it lies in their hands to call on these embassies to rescind their frequent denials of visas for coaches if they have the image of the sport at heart.

The National Sports Authority (NSA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in my opinion, are not playing their roles effectively as government agencies to eradicate this canker which has led to shambolic performances by our boxers over the years. This is because  providing a boxer and his trainer with introductory letters to embassies shouldn't be enough to secure them visas but must rather call on the Missions and explain to them the need for the pugilist to have his full entourage with him if he was to make any meaningful impact.

It still remains a shame that these boxers are usually used by their managers for financial gains and not their careers. These managers usually don't care about what to do to make their fighters victorious but place focus on the financial packages from the bouts.