Today I want to write about Azumah Nelson. He doesn’t need introduction. Too bad if you don’t know him but I do. I want to write about him as somebody who represents everything positive about life and what #madeofblack stands for.
Staying up to watch him fight was a blessing. I am not going to go into how he carried the entire nation on his shoulders because that story is well told. There is a book that chronicles his life from the dusty streets of Bukom to becoming immortalized in the US boxing hall of fame. He is a legend. Endless testimonies from both the rich and poor in society are still being told. A photo opportunity with the boxer is a treasured item kept away from even trusted family members.
Despite all the great things he did for this country, the now retired boxer has never allowed fame and money to sway him away from his humble beginnings. I doubt how many people will disagree with this.
The first time I met Azumah Nelson was at the Alisa Hotel back in 2012. He had agreed that I meet him for an interview for a radio documentary I was doing. It was about the dwindling fortunes of boxing. The interview lasted for 20 minutes. He was concise and straight to the point. He did not shied away from sharing with me some of the intimate moments of his childhood- growing up poor and how he fought his way to riches. “I have not allowed the money or fame to take away from me the person that I am and will always be,” he told me.
Azumah was the boxer’s boxer. He knew his craft very well. He often predicted the exact round he will knock down his opponents. The rematch against Australia’s Jeff Fenech was an example of such. The first fight between the two was docked in controversy but in the return match, the Bukom native made sure his opponent ate a humble pie. He punished him so well that the outcome of the fight became known as “Father and Son.”
Such was his strength that even the biggest opponents could not last the distance with him. He was a class act!!
Ahead of the launch of his book, The Professor, he came to Joy Fm for an interview, which lasted a little over two hours. After the interview I moved to the studio to talk selfie with him. He did not hesitate, he made himself available and for three different times, he obliged for us to take shots of him.
How come that a man who has achieved so much be so much humble? Most of my colleagues at Joy Fm kept asking themselves, as they took their turn to take photographs with him.So how come he was able to keep a world title for that long? He looked at me, smiled and said “discipline, discipline, discipline and the fear of God is what you need.”
Azumah said one can’t be indiscipline and expect to be victorious in his craft. There is always tomorrow but “you must confront the issues of today first before the break of dawn,” he said.
With the era of boxing now behind him, the boxer is now spending time contributing into the lives smart but needy people in the country. his foundation is at the moment building schools for deprived communities in the eastern region. for a man who never went to school but managed to speak English, he believes quality education is the way out of poverty and if he can use his fame and money to ensure that millions out there get what he could not get, he will be willing to put his soul into it.
His exemplary behavior defines what #madeofblack is all about; positive attitude, creativity, selflessness and discipline.