An Evening with Ike Quartey

By Johnathan Lee Iverson on September 19, 2017
An Evening with Ike Quartey
Ike Quartey’s confidence beamed, but who could resist supporting Oscar De La Hoya?

Somehow in the comfort of our exchange I managed to conjure the courage to ask about the De La Hoya fight…

When I first saw him, I wasn’t a fan. In fact, I hated him. He was taking on the Golden Boy, and at least, for me in that promotion he came across as too arrogant for my taste. It was clear he was good, very good. His confidence beamed, but who could resist supporting Oscar De La Hoya back then?

Truth is, by then I’d developed a disdain for underdogs. Someone with nothing to lose and everything to gain never sat well with me. It only made sense in Rocky films. I wasn’t so much a fan of Oscar De La Hoya as I was an advocate for his stature. He was, then, the gold standard of the sport. He was the money fight. He was in the crosshairs of every fighter within range of him. His excellence at the time bred a kind of malice that churned my being, but no less than that of any proverbial Golden Boy of the moment. I suppose that’s the way the world works, at least the boxing world. Everyone wants that top spot and if they can’t reach it, they’ll pelt you from below.

That is how I saw Ike Quartey. He was a crow who had no business in the vicinity of an eagle. Of his abilities there was no question that he belonged. In fact, the aftermath of that contest was very contentious, as many believed he had won. I was not one of them. I thought Oscar’s rally in the final round was more than enough to give him a close split decision.

It was New York City. It was 2001 and I couldn’t believe my luck. The first time I saw him was somewhere amidst 1 Penn Plaza. He looked like any other pedestrian. He’s a rather small man, but powerfully built. As he walked it was clear that he was a man with a third eye or sixth sense most often attributed to us city dwellers. I could see, being a New Yorker myself, he was well aware of his surroundings, in particular my presence. I tend to forget I’m a rather large individual. I’m perfectly harmless, but if I were Quartey I would have employed the same precaution as well. I didn’t want to chance it, so, I slowed my stride. It was 2001 during the hotly contested Don King promoted Middleweight Tournament. Bernard Hopkins would batter Keith Holmes into obscurity later that weekend in the Paramount Theater inside Madison Square Garden.

There seemed to be fight personalities appearing from every corner of the city, literally. I recall of the many personalities known and unknown a heavyset gentleman who stood outside the Hotel Pennsylvania peddling for change. Every time he saw me that week he swore up and down that I belonged in the ring—“What’s up, big fella? You gotta get some gloves on…spare some change?” He claimed to have once fought on an undercard in the famous arena. Those are claims I most often dismiss, but considering the business of boxing and its notorious reputation for disposing of its participants, as broken shells of themselves, I was actually more inclined to believe him.

I really don’t know how it happened, but there he was, the Bazooka sitting on a stool at a hotel restaurant and bar. It was your typical electric evening in the city of New York. By now, he looked at ease enough for me to approach him. Coupled with the noise of our surroundings and his strong accent, it wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have, but I didn’t care. Quartey was a class act. Nothing like the personality I disdained versus De La Hoya. It was a lesson in how the competitive mind and personality worked. Those characters we often see during those hotly contested promotions are exactly that, characters, most of the time at least. We touched on a number of topics, most particular how proud he was of his financial fortunes outside the ring. Apparently, he’d made some sound investments in real estate in his native Ghana. He’s a proud African man and spoke of the work he was doing and looked to do for the further upward mobility of his people. Of course, we chalked it up about the state of boxing and his career. Much to my surprise he conceded that he thought he lost the Fernando Vargas matchup. I’d have to say, I agreed, although I thought the Bazooka purported himself quite well versus what was then a very special fighter. I remember being very impressed with Vargas’ skills and composure during that encounter, particularly against a fighter of Quartey’s stature. However, no fighter concedes such transparency without a “but” of some kind. For Quartey, his was being on the downside of an otherwise great career.

Somehow in the comfort of our exchange I managed to conjure the courage to ask about the De La Hoya fight. In a reply as rapid and precise as his famous jab he snapped, “I won that fight!” Then he went into details as to why. It became a lecture I dared not interrupt with what I actually thought.

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Oscar De La Hoya vs Ike Quartey



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  1. Robert Ecksel 09:00pm, 09/20/2017

    Web based mobile version is available here: http://www.boxing.com/m/

  2. Don from Prov 10:08am, 09/20/2017

    Very good article.
    Bazooka was a handful, and of course had that ramrod jab.
    However, when he exchanged, often lost discipline, left himself open—

  3. Ishola Jegede 09:27am, 09/20/2017

    Dear Editor
    What are you doing about updating the app? Its not compatible with iOS 11 and cannot be accessed anymore. Please fix this urgently so we can continue to enjoy the articles and news on boxing.
    Peace!
    Ishola Jegede

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