Ghana has lost the first of her 10 boxing world champions in Former WBO Bantamweight champion Alfred Cobra Kotey in the US. He threw in the towel after a battle with illness.
Confirming the news to Joy Sports, The secretary General of the Ghana Boxing Authority, Patrick Johnson said: “Kotey had battled illness for some time now.”
Kotey had reportedly suffered a stroke in the midst of some complications and eventually had to be placed on life support.
In the 90s Kotey belonged to a new era of youthful and skilled boxers who were to continue the legacy of Ghana’s first World champion, David Kotey “D.K. Poison” who opened the way in the 70s.
Azumah Nelson and Nana Yaw Konadu followed then came Alfred Kotey the Cobra Kotey and Ike’ Bazooka Quartey who were to be christened Ghana boxing’s ‘Whizz Kids’.
Seoul Olympics 1988
Alfred Kotey had a rather weird story at the games as the boxer who hardly lost a bout but never won a medal at the multi-sport event which was held in Seoul Korea, between September 18 to October 2, 1988.
After recording a walkover in the first round the young ‘Cobra’ made a big statement in the second round of the flyweight division (up to 51 kilograms) of Kotey defeated Husain Al-Mutairi of Kuwait in his first bout clash after his fierce attack in the first round forced the Kuwaiti to retire.
Kotey progressed to the third round and saw off Benjamin Mwangata of Tanzania in a one-sided affair which was scored 5-0 in his favour. But that bout was to prove his Waterloo as a head butt resulted in a deep cut which ruled him out of the quarter-final after doctors had accessed the injury.
The crisp punching and highly skilled Kotey was eventually ranked the fifth best boxer in the division after Kim Kwan Sun of South Korea who won gold, Andreas Tews of Germany who won silver and the bronze-winning pair of Mario Gonzalez and Timofey Skryiabin of Russia.
Two months after the Seoul Games, Alfred Kotey turned pro and immediately saw off fellow novice Viper Tagoe with an impressive knockout win. He went ahead to win his next 15 bouts before recording his first loss to Mexican Alejandro Sanabria in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
En route to this 17th bout which he lost, Kotey had annexed the Commonwealth title after defeating Danny Porter in the UK. This was his first experience outside the shores of his homeland Ghana and UK debut as well. And after winning eight of his next nine bouts in the US, he returned to the UK.
After one tune-up bout against journeyman Chris Clarkson, he stepped up to the biggest date in his career to date.
Puerto Rico’s Rafeal Del Valle was the reigning WBO Bantamweight, champion and had a good record of 15-0. The Ghanaian’s challenge was to claim the title from the champion who was obviously the favourite.
This was also a month after his national amateur teammate and childhood friend Ike Bazooka Quartey had claimed the WBA Welterweight title from Crisanto Espana in France.
When the moment came at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, Alfred put up a dominant performance fusing his crisp stinging jabs and attack-oriented style with good defence to claim the title. The scorecards of Judges Paul Thomas, Andre Van Grutenbruel read 116-111, 118-111 and 116-112 respectively.
He defended it twice before losing it in October 1995 to Mexican Daniel Jiminez. He made the name and gained the respect in his homeland but hardly made the big bucks to match it like his compatriot Ike Quartey.
The once-feared warrior in the ring had become a journeyman by the time he hung his gloves in 2012. Between 1997 and 2012 Kotey lost 14 bouts. The last career bout was against the youthful Frederick Lawson at the El–Wak Stadium in Accra Ghana was enough evidence that it was time to say “it’s a career”.
Lawson showed respect but still outpunched the once feared pugilist from Bukom Accra. His defence was porous and the young ambitious Lawson, a 2008 Olympian constantly penetrated with his left jab and will finish off with his big right.
The former champion who was now fighting in the welterweight division retired in round three of the originally scheduled eight rounds.
In the past two months, Kotey, who was living in the US, had battled ill health. He had a stroke in the midst of other complications and passed on eventually on the stroke of the month of July the same month that brought him the greatest glory of the world championship.
In November 2016, the then President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama commissioned the iconic Bukom boxing Arena under the Trust Sports Emporium.
Ghana’s ten boxing world champions including Kotey have stands named after them.
On the night, Kotey was presented with a Presidential citation of honour for his achievements in the sport.