FLOYD KLUTEI ROBERTSON (1937-1982)- The first Ghanaian to Fight for a World Boxing Champion Belt May 9, 1964
The first Ghanaian to Fight for a World Boxing Champion Belt May 9, 1964, will forever be remembered in the boxing history of Ghana. It was the day the first world boxing championship tournament was staged in Ghana. But perhaps more significantly it was the day one of the But controversial decisions in the history of the fistic sport were recorded.
For the 15 rounds of the fight, Ghana’s Floyd Klutei Robertson had out-boxed, severely battered, and sent Sugar Ramos, the champion, onto the canvass not less than four times in the fight. At the end of the fight, however, the two judges, Ramon Velasquez of Mexico and ED Lassman of America (both nominated by the champion’s camp), scored for Sugar Ramos. Against the verdict of the referee who scored for the challenger, the champion retained his crown by a split 2:1 decision.
The decision so shocked the whole boxing world that the GBA (Professional) Board comprising Prince Yaw Boateng, Prof. Francis Nkrumah, Air Marshall M. A. Otu, and Mowbray Elliot, in a statement soon after the fight rejected the verdict of the judges reversed the decision of the fight and proclaimed Floyd the new champion.
Upon studying the scorecards of each of the three officials, the authority observed that the scorecard issued by Mr. Lassman which he returned after the fight had not been signed by him.
Considering all the matter, the Authority decided that the decision of the two judges did a great injustice to Floyd Robertson of Ghana, who in the opinion of the Authority and of the neutral referee and of the majority of foreign sports experts and writers at the ringside, had clearly won the featherweight championship of the world. … The Authority, therefore, appeals to all national and international boxing authorities throughout the world to recognize Robertson as the featherweight champion of the world.
The statement of the GBA interestingly received a cold reception from the World Boxing Council (WBC), which emphasized the WBC’s determination to abide by the boxing regulations and the verdict of the officials who were duly appointed and accepted by the parties concerned. The Council argued that the country’s Director of Sports (Ohene Djan) made no protests before the bout.
The authoritative The Ring magazine opened that the recorded cases of reversals involving scorecards (Carmen Basilio and Chuck Davey of May 29, 1952; Joey Giardello and Billy Graham of December 19, 1952, and Joey Giardello and Willie Vaughn of March 27, 1952) cited by the GBA to support the revision of the verdict were in the circumstance completely different from Floyd’s case.
The reversals in those cases involving scoring cards not being properly completed or using of the wrong system of scoring or interference by another body in the scoring.
With the rejection by the power brokers in the boxing circles of the GBA’s appeal, Floyd was prevented from achieving his childhood dream of becoming a world champion.
He was born on April 17, 1937, to Christopher Okai Robertson of Accra and Mercy Ardeyfio of Winneba. At seven, Floyd, a Methodist, entered the Roman Catholic School in Accra where he showed exceptional talent for games and sports. He featured regularly for the school football team. In his final year, he captained the Accra All School XI to play the Kumasi All Schools XI. His team was narrowly defeated by their opponents. His interest in football was to live with him long after completing his elementary school in 1955.
While in middle school, he often went to the beach for boxing lessons with his uncle, Ginger Ardeyfio. Ginger noticing the potential of his nephew urged him to become a professional boxer. This Floyd was hesitant about as he enjoyed playing football. He played for the third division side of Accra Hearts of Oak.
In September 1955 a fight was scheduled at the West substitute. End Arena between Joe Bonna and John Brown. At the last minute, however, Joe Bonna withdrew.
Not to disappoint the numerous fans, Ginger Ardeyfio, the fight promoter, persuaded Floyd to stand in as, Despite his unpreparedness, Floyd agreed and with determination beat John Brown to submission in the sixth round. After that bout, he decided to turn professional.
He, however, continued to play for Accra Hearts of Oak (Dodoo Ankrah who later became a national star was one of his teammates). A dispute with the club management, however, forced him to leave Hearts to join the then newly formed Great Gas. He again left that club for Accra Standfast. Another dispute however forced him to leave Accra Standfast. He decided to leave football altogether. From then, on, he joined the Accra School of Boxing run by his uncle, Ginger Ardeyfio.
While at the Accra Boxing club, he had his second professional fight at Tarkwa. Speedy Ashie was to fight Jomo Jackson alias Robert Aja Okine at Tarkwa. A day before the fight, Speedy Ashie injured himself while training. Rather than postpone the fight, the promoter sought a substitute.
Initially, Floyd was unwilling to fight but urged by his trainer, Ginger Ardeyfio, and his manager Doctor Squire, he took up the challenge and surprised his opponent with a knock-out in the seventh round. But as the referee began his mandatory count, the light suddenly went off. When the light came on a few seconds after, Jomo was on his seat in his corner.
Incensed at the interruption, Floyd went into the next round fiercely forcing the dreaded Jomo to retire 40 seconds into the round. After that fight, countless opponents came and he dismissed them one by one. He even went to the La Côte d’Ivoire and knocked out Soko Piere, their lightweight champion. After a few fights, he fought Love Allotey in an elimination bout to meet the national featherweight champion, Skipping Gilbert. After a number of postponements, the fight finally took place at the Accra Hall in March 1958. In just two rounds, Skipping Gilbert was dethroned. Floyd thus became the new national featherweight champion.
He defended his title successfully against Jomo Jackson and Love Allotey before taking on Young Sandy of Nigeria for his West African featherweight title, which he won on points. With no serious challenger in sight, he left Ghana for the United Kingdom in June 1958.