Late afternoon in Bukom, a small enclave of fishermen in the working class Jamestown area of Accra. The children run out of class and immediately head to the boxing clubs for their daily training. Bukom is known as the temple of boxing in Ghana and has the largest number of clubs in the world.
Here, for over 75 years, the greatest champions have been produced. In Bukom more than anywhere else, boxing is a matter of survival. In this very poor district, there are few ways out for young people. Juvenile delinquency is high, and boxing is one of the only ways out, a lifeline. Many trainers have understood this and try to instill the values of the noble art to extract young people from a spiral of violence. And even if the conditions are hard, it is a whole youth who dreams thanks to boxing of a better future. That of the great champions they adore. Seven world champions come from Bukom: Azumah Nelson, David Kotei, Joshua Clottey, Ben Tackie; known as Wonder.
Bukom is a shanty town with old huts, surrounded by crumbling colonial houses. Most of the clubs are open air and have no electricity. In small concrete courtyards, blown punching bags cover altars rusted by the sea air. On the floor, yellow circles have been painted to practice moving. The young people in these very difficult training conditions develop a fighting spirit, a rage to fight that many Western clubs envy them.
The appearance of Ghanaian champions on the international scene in the 1980s and 1990s is one of the reasons for the success of this sport in this country but it is also an ancestral tradition that has been modernized. Indeed, the Ga ethnic group has long practiced a combat sport called Asafo atwele very close to English boxing.
Thus, Ghanaian boxers are often the sons, grandsons or great-grandsons of boxers.
Boxing in Bukom is an art, "the noble art", a sport, a way of life, a source of inspiration, an escape and a question of survival.