Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Azumah defends title on February 25

by Ebo Quansah

Marcos Villassana does not seem to bother Azumah Nelson, the Ghanaian world feather-weight champion whose title is at stake in Tuesday's showdown at the Los Angeles Forum.

Azumah's main pre-occupation is how to get Irishman Barry McGuigan in the same ring. After the man who holds the other half of the world crown had made heavy weather of the title defence against sixth-ranked Dominican Republic challenger, Azumah was quoted by the Mirror of London as being worried over the fact that somebody might beat McGuigan before he, Azumah, is given the chance.

In terms of confidence, Azumah has the semblance of Muhammed Ali. His mouth and fists have that perfect understanding that made the former Cassius Clay the greatest of all men ever to be associated with the noble art of self-defence.

His only blemish in an otherwise colourful career was a loss to Salvador Sanchez, one of the greatest performers in the nine stone category. Even then, Azumah took the fight at two weeks' notice. Before succumbing in the last of the 15-round contest, the Ghanaian gave the Mexican a hell of a fight.

In fact, Sanchez died in a motor accident said to be in the course of celebrating one of the hardest contests of his career.

It was Azumah's brilliant performance in that context that launched him to stardom. The death of Sanchez and the ascension of Wilfredo Gomez of Puerto Rico to the throne left the World Boxing Council no alternative than to call for the challenge of the Ghanaian. On that fateful Saturday, December 8, 1984, Nelson whipped Gomez into 11th round submission before thousands of hostile Puerto Rican home fans.

What happened next is now part of a history that has left the Ghanaian as a possible candidate to the exclusive club of the greatest name in the business.

Whatever yardstick one employs in finding the index, Azumah stands hands and shoulders above his challenger. In boxing, like sports. generally, the danger lies in attempting to underrate an opponent. The fistic sport is littered with stories of people entering the ring as no hopers and climbing out with the world at their feet.

Muhammed Ali is perhaps best remembered of the lot. When the young Cassius Clay challenged Sonny Liston to a contest for the greatest prize in the profession, way back in 1964, it was thought the Louisville Lip was shutting itself forever.

Not only did he dethrone the Big Bear, the whipping he gave the ex-convict put the great Sonny Liston off the roster of boxing's legend. But there is one thing that will goad on the champion. And it is knowledge that one day he is going to get the chance to sort out with McGuigan who deserves a place in the exclusive club of all time great featherweights. And he won't get the chance if he messes about with opponents like Villassana who had to pray for second coming after the WBC ruled him out as a suitable opponent following his defeat by an unranked fellow Mexican.

NSC to be re-structured

Plans are underway to "re-organise the National Sports Council (NSC)," Minister of Social Development Youth and sports, Lt-Col Abdulah has said in Kano.

Exchanging views with the Kano State director of sports, Alhaji Aliyu Sambo, said that some of the measures to be taken include the reduction in the membership of the NSC board and the setting up of four zonal headquarters outside Lagos.

Proposed zonal headquarters would be sited at Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Jos. Lt-Col Abdulahi advised the Kano Sports Council to mobilise the people toward commencing work on the proposed N60 million modern Kano Stadium, adding that work could start in stages rather than waiting for funds to be made available by government.

Strive to enlighten public

Professional sports writers must strive to enlighten the public, the executive members of the Sokoto State wing of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) have been charged.

Speaking at the swearing-in of the executive, the state director of sports, Alhaji Sani Kangiwa, urged members to especially encourage the wealthy ones, on the need to sponsor sporting activities and to contribute towards sports development.

Alhaji Sani said that the task ahead of the association was by no means small, adding that in view of the religious belief of the majority of the people of the state, "you must do a lot to convince them and further popularise sports in the state."

He urged them to be objective in all their 55th minute. coverage and criticisms, pointing out that the public depended so much on the media for information and "you cannot afford to fail them."

Wrestlers set for Commonwealth Games

Wrestlers who will represent Nigeria at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in July will be selected during the fourth Inter-State Senior Men's Wrestling Championships.

The secretary of the Nigeria Amateur Wrestling Association (NAWA), Mr J. Ayinde- Peters, said in a statement that those selected would proceed to Ibadan where they would be camped in readiness for the Games.

Both local and international competitions have been organised for the wrestlers by the (Akure) association prior to the Games, Mr Ayinde- Peters said.

The team would visit Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sweden and Bulgaria between March and July in preparing for the Games.

Meanwhile a record number of 17 states are said to have registered for the annual wrestling competition being sponsored by the Nigeria Olympic Committee. Only Borno and Sokoto had not entered for the three-day event.

Draws herald Nigeria soccer league

It was quite a start! With a record six draws, the four which involved National League Division 1 rivals ended in stalemates.

In Ijeby-Ode, Abiola Babes of Abeokuta forced Rangers International of Enugu to a 1-1 ending in another Division 1 match. Captain Ikechukwu Ofoje put Rangers ahead with a penalty-kick in the 39th minute after Babes' goalkeeper Daniel Abdullahi had apparently unfairly brought down striker Charles Okonkwo. Substitute Taju Olaiya equalised for the Babes in the 51st minute when he lobbed in a Clement Temile half volley from the right flank, catching Rangers' goalkeeper David Ngondigha unawares.

Babes coach James Peters said later that he was "not satisfied" with his team's per- formance. He promised to do some "surgical operation" to reactivate the Babes' midfield. Hosts Sharks of Port Harcourt also ended it 1-1 with the Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri (formerly Spartans) in an explosive match.

Last year's highest goal scorer, David Owumi, obviously bent on keeping the magnificent Bournvita Cup donated by Cadbury Nigeria Limited, scored a text-book goal in the 30th minute. Paul Uzokwe equalised for Iwuanyanwu in the


Some of the first day's League results:


Sharks (Port Harcourt 1 - 1 Iwuanyanwu Nationale (Owerri)
IICC (Ibadan) 1 - 1 Leventis United (Ibadan)
Abiola Babes (Abeokuta) 1 - 1 Rangers International (Enugu)
Stationery Stores (Lagos) 0 Calabar Rovers


Nasco Jets 0 - 0 First Bank (Lagos)
DIC "BEES" (Kaduna) 3 - 3 Femo Scorpion (Eruwa)
Niger Tornadoes (Minna) 1- 1 UNTL (Kaduna)
Zamfara (Gusau) 1 - 1 NNPC (Warri)


Housing Corporation 2 - 2 Central Railway (Kafanchan)
KWSU Bombers (Ilorin) 1- 1 IBWA (Lagos)
Fiat (Kano) 1- 1 National Bank (Lagos)

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