Children in Ghana’s fishing community of Jamestown dream of careers in boxing but struggle to rise above high levels of poverty and lack of opportunity. One child-boxer who already has some wins under his belt, wants to show that boxing and education are important.
He comes from Jamestown, an old fishing port in the capital Accra that has produced some of the country’s top boxers.
“I want to fight like Floyd Mayweather. He doesn’t lose fights that’s why I want to be like him. I want to win a world title for Ghana some day. I know I am a good boxer so I want to go to school and read,” said Quaye.
There are various gyms like this one across Jamestown, nurturing talent like Quaye from a young age. Some start as early as five years old.
Dreams of making it big however, often come in the way of education.
“Many parents in Jamestown have never been to school and do not know the value of education. They feel like paying fees for their children is a waste of money because many of the children won’t stay in school anyway,” said Quaye.
“We have a lot of good young fighters here. Some have even had the opportunity to travel and when they go, they fight well. Boxing is their future and we know we can produce world champions here and so we are not taking this lightly. We are training them well,” said David Ankrah, a coach at Quaye’s gym.
People tell stories of how cocoa farmers from rural parts of the country would come to Accra to trade and while there, challenge fishermen to fights.
But overfishing means there is less to catch these days and local fishermen are struggling to survive.
Once among the richest in the world, West Africa’s fish stocks are being depleted by industrial trawlers which comb the oceans to feed European and Asian markets, experts say.
Jamestown, a seaside suburb built on fishing has been hard hit and it is one of the poorest parts of Accra.
“I am sure if they get the support, they can go far. Many people in our neighbourhood believe that my son could one day be world champion. I believe that if they get the right support, food to eat and the things to use for boxing, they can go places,” she said.
Quaye says he wants to box and go to school, so he can be a role model to others – to prove that it is possible to make it.
“When I become a world champion, I want to help all the young people in Jamestown… When I am a boxer like Mayweather I will help as many people as possible to succeed,” he said.