There have been many great boxers from Africa, but Ike “Bazooka” Quartey (37-4-1, 31 KOs), from Accra, Ghana, is among the greatest.
A 1988 Olympian, Quartey turned pro in November of that year with a quick KO of Mama Mohamed and he was on his way.
Quartey won the vacant West African Boxing Union super lightweight title in his third bout. He picked up a WBC International title in 1992.
But it was his first world title shot, in 1994 at Palais Marcel Cerdan, Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, France, which put “Bazooka” on the map. His opponent was reigning and defending WBA World welterweight champion Crisanto Espana (30-0), the lanky Venezuelan southpaw fighting out of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Quartey TKO’d Espana in the 11th round of a scheduled 12 and was declared the new WBA champion.
The Ghanaian fought often. He also always won. Quartey went 11-0-1 between 1994 and 1997. He defended the crown seven times, going 6-0-1 in title defenses.
The majority draw against Jose Luis Lopez in 1997, after being down twice, was a disappointing setback.
Quartey was inactive for over a year when he fought WBC welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya in his next fight. That verdict was also controversial. De La Hoya won a split decision after 12.
Ike continued to fight, somewhat halfheartedly, but against tough opponents like Verno Phillips, Vernon Forrest, and Winky Wright.
When Quartey finally called it a day in December 2006, he had lost four of his last seven fights.
But Ike Quartey is not forgotten, especially in Ghana, especially when it comes to boxing.
Former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, went public this week and said he is on a personal mission to lure former WBA champion Ike Quartey back into the sport.
President Rawlings doesn’t want Quartey to resume boxing again, but believes he has a major role to play in inspiring young Ghanaian fighters.
Rawlings analyzed Quartey’s fight with De La Hoya and the ramifications that followed. He said Quartey lost his “disciplined mind and spirit,” leading to an “emotionally scarring loss.”
“Oh, Ike Quartey,” reminisced the former President. “I remember one of his last fights against that guy, De La Hoya. I think in those last three rounds, Ike could have beaten him.
“But I think Ike was feeling embarrassed for the champion because the guy was good and a gentleman boxer and you could not help but respect him. I think Ike respected the guy too much and squandered that opportunity.”
Opportunity of that sort did not knock again, but Rawlings has a proposition he wants to discuss with the former champ.
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.