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Azumah Nelson: Least Known Facts About the African Boxer

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Azumah Nelson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as the best African boxer ever. In his time, he dominated the Super-featherweight and featherweight categories. If you’re curious about his career, personal life, and family, you’re in the right place! 

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Azumah Nelson’s Profile Summary

Azumah Nelson’s best career moments. Video Credit: V Top 10
  • Full Name: Samuel Azumah Nelson
  • Profession: Boxing
  • Weight Category: Featherweight, Super-featherweight, Lightweight
  • Nickname: Zoom Zoom, The Terrible Warrior, The Professor
  • Gender: Male
  • Date of Birth: 19 July 1958
  • Place of Birth: Bukom, Accra, Ghana
  • Nationality: Ghanaian
  • Height in Feet: 5’5”
  • Weight in Pounds: 152
  • Marital status: Married

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Azumah Nelson’s Biography 

Azumah Nelson interview. Video Credit: JoyNews

Fondly known as ‘The Terrible Warrior’, Azumah Nelson is the firstborn of Mr Emmanuel Teilo Nelson, his father and Madam Comfort Atwesi Cuarcoo, his mother. Azumah frequented the timber market where his parents worked.

His father was a tailor, and his mother was a trader. These jobs weren’t enough to cater for a family of eight – Azumah, his five siblings and two parents – so the retired boxer worked at the market to help raise money for the home.

At the market, he came across a young boxer who inspired him to box. Nelson put on his gloves and began practising. Here’s his journey to the top.

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Azumah Nelson’s Amateur Career

Azumah’s first attempts at boxing took place in the streets of his hometown, Bokum. Like many kids in the area, he fought on the streets until he was then taken to the gym, where he competed against established boxers.

Nelson lost his first competitive bout to a local but that didn’t deter him. He continued training and no one could have envisioned the record he was about to set. 

He went on to have a successful run as an amateur boxer, with a 50-1 record, winning two gold medals in the 1978 All-Africa Games and the Commonwealth Games in the featherweight categories. 

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Turning Pro

Azumah Nelson vs Salvador Sanchez. Video Credit: Jimmy Pince

After conquering the amateur level, Azumah Nelson turned professional in 1979, but he had to work even more to prove himself at the highest level. It took a series of bouts to establish himself. Azumah Nelson went on a 13-0 streak.

This earned him a chance to compete for his first world title against Sanchez Salvado at Madison Square Garden. The Mexican stopped Nelson in the 15th round to retain his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title.

Two years after his fight against the late Sanchez, Azumah Nelson got another chance to fight for the WBC title. This time, Wilfredo Gomez was the opponent and the Ghanaian finally won the world title.

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Moving to the Super-Featherweight Division

He dominated the category for the next three years before surrendering his belt when he switched to the super-featherweight division. The boxer won his first title against Mario Martinez and defended it three times.

After this run of success, Azumah moved to the lightweight category but was unsuccessful in his first attempt. The Ghanaian lost in 12-rounds to Pernell Whitaker and failed to secure the W.B.C. and International Boxing Federation titles. He moved back to the super-featherweight category but encountered stiff competition.

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End of His Boxing Career

Azumah Nelson vs Jeff Fenech II. Video Credit: Nick_M’s Classic Boxing

The Ghanaian fought Jeff Fenech and Gabriele Ruelas and registered a draw against Jesse James Leija. He lost his rematch against Jesse Leija and struggled in his next two bouts against Genaro Hernandez and Leija. 

Azumah Nelson knew that his best days were beyond him. So he hung his gloves. He walked away with an impeccable record of 39-6-2. He fought in 47 matches, won 39 (28 through knockouts), drew six and lost two.   

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Azumah Nelson’s Family 

Reports indicate that Azuma Nelson married twice. His first wife, Beatrice Tandoh, reportedly died of cancer. They had three children, David, Dorinda and Doris.

The boxer remarried again and has three more children with his second wife, Peggy Nelson. Among them is his son Azumah Nelson Junior, who was a boxer but quit.  

In 2021, the boxer’s first daughter Dorinda Nelson walked down the aisle in a colourful ceremony attended by former Black Stars player, Stephen Appiah.     

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Azumah Nelson’s Car 

At the peak of his career, the boxer spent a part of his fortune on a stretch limousine. In an interview with a Ghanaian publication, Azumah said he made the purchase to inspire fellow sportsmen and show that it’s possible to become successful in the industry.

Azumah Nelson’s House 

The late former Ghanaian President Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings offered Azumah Nelson a house but he turned down the offer. 

In an interview with a local publication, the former boxing champion revealed that he prefered that the property be given out to someone who was in need. 

He also stated that he already had a unit for himself and had the capacity to own an extra one. 

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Awards & Recognition

Azumah Nelson is widely considered the best African boxer. Unfortunately, he doesn’t receive the public and media recognition he deserves. That said, Nelson received the highest honors when he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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