Azumah Nelson is a former World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight and super-featherweight champion who is widely considered one of the greatest African boxers of all time. He is also an inspiration and role model to millions worldwide. Local and international media both describe him as a humble, God-fearing statesman and a true patriot with unblemished credibility.
Azumah has a great love for his family roots and his connection to the human family. He said, “It is very important for us to know that even with our different genealogy, we are part of the same global family. If only we can remind ourselves that regardless of political affiliation, race, tribe, gender, country, and faith, we all belong to one big family of God, I believe the world will be a beautiful place to live in."
We are excited to announce that Azumah Nelson is a keynote speaker at this year's RootsTech event! Visit RootsTech.org to listen to his empowering keynote address.
Who Is Azumah Nelson?
Azumah Nelson started his boxing career when he was very young, showcasing his speed, talent, and work ethic. Over his career, he fought a total of 47 fights, 39 of which he won. In 1978, he won gold medals at the All-Africa Games and Commonwealth Games. After those victories, he won the World Boxing Champion title three times in two weight classes—a feat that very few boxers have ever achieved. In December 2014, he was crowned in Las Vegas by the WBC as the greatest super-featherweight boxer of all time.
Thanks to his incredible achievements, millions worldwide have searched for Ghana, Azumah's native country, on the world map. He has represented the spirit of Ghana and has given hope to millions during the country's dire moments in the late '70s, '80s, and '90s and is now regarded by many as Africa’s greatest boxer of all time. He is affectionately called "The Professor."
During RootsTech, we have the amazing opportunity to get to know the man behind the legend even better! Did you know that he came from very humble beginnings? How does a man go from obscurity to the summit of world fame and respect? Join us, and discover his story.
Azumah Nelson’s Story
Azumah Nelson tells us that to understand his character and story, we must first understand his roots. He is a direct descendant of the Tabon people. In 1892, seven families, a total of 75 individuals, from Bahia, Brazil, bought their freedom. They made their way back to the lands from which they had been taken and established a community that is still alive more than a century later. Azumah says that this Tabon DNA, power, and spirit are where his courage and determination to succeed come from. However, although the Nelson family were leaders of his people for decades, Azumah did not have an easy upbringing.
Samuel Azumah Nelson was born on 19 July 1958 at Timber Market in Accra, the capital of Ghana. His father, Emmanuel Teilo Nelson, was a tailor, and his mother, Madam Comfort Atswei Quarcoo, was a trader in Timber Market. Azumah was the firstborn of his six siblings. He spent his childhood at Timber Market, which he described as an “overcrowded market made up of people of different tribes, low-cost, self-constructed huts, and wood and metal.” His childhood was tough, as his parents didn't have good enough jobs to provide enough for their big family. So Azumah had to start working at an early age to help support his family by selling coconuts and running errands for people.
While working at Timber Market, Azumah came across a boy who practiced boxing. After being fascinated with this boy's skills, he decided to learn the sport. This decision led him to discover his boxing talent at an early age. He worked hard to become the boxing legend celebrated worldwide today. He is now married with six children and has an admirable relationship with them. He has made a big effort to instill in his children that same Tabon spirit of courage and determination that has helped him become who he is today.
Azumah’s parents introduced Azumah and his siblings to God. He says, "We were encouraged to love and care for one another, and not just my siblings, but friends and people we came in contact with daily. That is the most important gift I believe our parents gave us.” He has demonstrated this love and care for those around him through foundations he has established.
He created the Azumah Nelson Foundation, which supports less-privileged youth through sports and education. The foundation has undertaken several projects in many communities, including the construction of a 6-classroom block at Anum Apapam in the Eastern Region. He dreams of an ultramodern sports academy that will provide formal education and train participants in different sports.
He is also the founder of the Azumah Nelson Boxing Promotions. This firm organizes the esteemed boxing event dubbed Azumah Nelson Fight Night, which assembles the best boxers from Ghana and sometimes other countries for a great night of boxing.
Azumah Nelson at RootsTech 2022
Azumah Nelson is an inspiration to many for his inspiring boxing record and also for his humanity and love for others. He says, “We are all connected regardless of our locations. What happens to your brothers and sisters thousands of miles away should be of importance to you.”
Visit RootsTech.org to see Azumah Nelson's keynote address and learn the fascinating story of his ancestors as well as his personal story of success. RootsTech is the world's largest family history and genealogy conference, and this year the event is online for free.
(Note: The video below is the fourth general session from the RootsTech conference and contains other inspiring videos from the session. To watch Azumah's keynote address, start the video at 44:54.)