Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

'Rambo' Nelson in a hurry British challenger falls in one

By Ebo Quansah, from the Ringside, Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.

Azumah Nelson performed one of the most efficient executions of boxing jobs in history and left Mr Justice Dan F. Annan, vice Head of state of Ghana and his country. secretary for Youth and Sports hugging each other in ecstacy.

The Ghanaian world featherweight champion took only 2 mins 24 secs to knock-out challenger Pat Cowdell at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre on Saturday and demonstrated that efficiency cannot be substituted for enthusiasm in any endeavour.

As the toast of victory continued into the early hours of Sunday, nothing could be more of a tribute to the man who momentarily erased stinking memories of the oppression and economic misdirection in Ghana than Mr Justice Annan and Amarkai Amarteifio emulating Azumah's efficiency in running the affairs of that

That Azumah was ruthless is an understatement. He was as digital in the timing of his blows as the chimes of Big Ben.

As he exploded with two bombs to the head of local boy after allowing the challenger a minute of respite, the defeat of Cowdell was never in doubt. The coup de grace a rabbit-like left uppercut to the jaw lifted Cowdell into the heavens as if delivering him to the angels above, before crushing him onto the canvas.

The Birmingham lad, idol of the over 6,000 fans lay prostrate and it was obvious the man, whose come-back from retirement had been a fairy-tale in boxing history, needed instant medical attention and not the formal 10 count from the lips of Mexican referee, Octavio Meyran. The delay occasioned by the count nearly registered a tragedy.

Cowdell needed the services of the ringside medical team to bring him back to life five minutes after the referee had declared his challenge all over.

At 32, and with over 20 years campaign in the ring brought to an end in the first knock-out defeat in a career that has spanned 34 fights, Cowdell broke down and wept bitterly. His Dutch-born wife, Ingeborg joined him in shedding tears. It was the only time in eight years that she had seen her sweetheart in the ring. And the emotion was too much to contain.

From the ring side, I saw Roy Ankrah, the person who blazed the trail to Ghana's brilliant performances in the featherweight division with the capture of the British Empire (now Commonwealth) championship in 1951, put his head on his table in disappointment.

Roy had come to Birmingham hoping to make history as the first ex-boxer in Africa to have judged in a world championship but was never allowed to put anything on his paper.

Azumah had said before the championship that he needed no judges: "My fists are my judges" said the champion after learning that Roy had been flown in as one of the judges.

Beatrice Tandoh, summed up her husband's performance in Azumah's wife three words: "It was fantastic," as she planted kisses on the lips of the champion.

A British fan called Azumah "Rambo" but the thousands of supporters of Cowdell saw no fun in the night's outing. They expressed their feelings by doing the fighting in the stands. As fists, chairs and other missiles were hurled at any moving black object, Azumah had to be escorted to his dressing room while some of us sought refuge in the ring. A number of Ghanaians were injured, one with a suspected broken nose.

Azumah celebrates his victory with a wave of the Ghana flag.

Mr George Amo, Chairman of the Third World Promotions of Nigeria, that manages David Andeh, and who sat with nitions of the disturbances long before they broke out. With the Handsworth riots in Birmingham in mind and the thunderous applause that greeted the challenger into the ring proving the fans dedication to the challenger, the experienced Nigerian promoter was quick to warn of an imminent danger in the event of a Nelson early win.

As one irate fan explained, the disgraceful scene could have been avoided only if Azumah had allowed the tournament to last longer. Some of them had parted with their entire dole money in a gate fee that ranged from £20 to £50 only to be served with a 2 minutes contest.

That Cowdell could not win was not their bother. The signs were on the wall long before the bell summoned the boxers into action. Even Bookmakers had found it difficult slamming the 4-1 favourite on Azumah because punters had expressed little interest in a contest they knew the local performer stood no chance. What worried the fight fans was the entertainment denied in one of the shortest world championship since Muhammed Ali destroyed Sonny Liston in that one-punch victory some twenty years ago.

Yet the beginning had been hilarious. Cowdell was the first to enter the ring at two minutes past ten. As a model bore aloft the union jack with Cowdell shadow boxing behind, six thousand white throats yelled their approval by singing "Here we go... Here we go... Here we go “

The deafening roar that greeted the challenger into the ring had hardly died down when the sounding of fontonfrom drums announced the arrival of King Azumah. Momentarily, all was quiet as the fans gazed at the majestic steps of the world champion following the red, yellow and green flag with the shining black star superimposed in the middle. The sounding of the fontonfrom drums performed by AKLOWA, a Ghanaian cultural troupe based in Birmingham was an inspirational message to the King who stopped by the ring, raised his hands into the heavens for a short prayer and stepped into the square ropes for a short shadow boxing session.

When time-keeper Ken Davidson sounded his bell for the commencement of hostilities, it was Cowdell who landed the first two blows. Incidentally, that was all he could do as Nelson's first two blows to the head left him badly shaken. The left hook that felled him might have sent chills down the spine of WBA champion Barry McGuigan whose manager, Barney Eastwood, attempted to hide their fears by dismissing it as a weak punch.

Azumah welcomed his victory by renewing his challenge to McGuigan. "Barry can't go four rounds with me", he openly teased the WBA champion. I am the best in the world. I'll fight McGuigan anywhere in the world".

Mr Eastwood has turned down an offer of between two to three million dollars that would have brought McGuigan into the square ropes with Azumah.
A British fan called Azumah "Rambo" but the thousands of supporters of Cowdell saw no fun in the night's outing. They expressed their feelings by doing the fighting in the stands as fists, chairs and other missiles were hurled at any moving black object. Azumah had to be escorted to his dressing room while some of us sought refuge in the ring
But like Joe Louis, that boxing legend said some thirty years ago and re-echoed by President Reagan after his hijacking drama "You can run but you can't hide". Since the Irishman has openly ran away from the WBC champion, there cannot be any basis to equate the two rulers in the world of featherweight boxing. It's King Azumah first, all others are mere pretenders.

At least, on the basis of his performance on Frank Warren's Saturday promotion, Azumah deserves to be the undisputed featherweight champion of the world. McGuigan would only matter when he gets the courage to face the man from Ghana.

Meanwhile, with a record of 22 wins, 17 inside the distance against only one flaw, the Ghanaian champion qualifies for a place in the exclusive club of all time great featherweights. Any Challenger?

talking drums 1985-10-21 Azumah The two minute wonder