Hidden down several flights of steps in Downtown New York City you will find Church Street Boxing Gym and with its true old school feel Church Street is unlike the traditional gyms that you find in New York City. From the moment you enter Church Street you sense ones dedication and love of boxing with its thousands of boxing photos and posters stuck to the walls many yellowed from age. From the pounding of the heavy bags, the lightning quick claps from the speed bags and the grunts from the boxers sparring in the ring you know you have reached boxing heaven. Every day sweating in the over 100 degree heat down in the basement of Church Street you will find what may be the one person who at the age of 40 years old still believes he has a championship run left in him. Jaffa Ballogou who has been out of boxing for over two years now, he last fought on June 16, 2006 beating Lawrence Chapman by unanimous decision. In that bout Ballogou floored Chapman 5 times. Ballogou has achieved a 45 – 6 record winning 39 by knockout in his 20 year professional career.
Upon entering the gym you will notice Ballogou right away he is one of the hardest working boxers down there focusing on getting ready for his comeback which is planned for September 23rd. He will face Manu Ntoh in a scheduled 8 round bout at the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street in NYC. The bout will be part of Knock out Poverty which is a landmark event to help fight poverty in Africa that is planned for that evening. With fierce determination and concentration the lean six foot Ballogou blocks out his past struggles and applies all his energy to his workout with trainer Rafael Correa by his side. Correa, a former boxer himself says Ballogou is in terrific shape and is training very hard.
Back in 1997 Ballogou fought Frankie Liles for the WBA Super Middleweight title, Ballogou who lost that bout by unanimous decision to this day still believes he won. Ballogou describes the bout with Liles as the toughest of his career. Fast forward eleven years and you will still find Ballogou training like his next fight will be for the championship. He is feared by many in the light heavyweight division for his knockout abilities and his southpaw style. This along with promotional problems has caused Ballogou difficulty in finding fights keeping him out of the ring for two years. Ballogou is inspired by the success of the aging light heavyweights Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and Roy Jones Jr. all who are 39 years old to help fuel his comeback. Ballogou is predicting a 3rd round knockout of Ntoh on September 23rd. With Ballogou’s 75 percent knockout rate one can not argue the point.
Actually, The African Assassin fears no one in the ring and says bring them on he will face anyone anywhere. Ballogou has had his share of opportunity fighting in the Mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden and under the big lights in Las Vegas. He has faced some tough opponents including the likes of Ike Quartey early in his career and Syd Vanderpool a former champion from Canada. That is all past history for Ballogou who now is just concentrating on getting ready for September 23rd. Ballogou says he does not know much about his opponent Manu Ntoh (17-14,10KOs) who is also 40 years old and is a multiple World Muay Thai Champion. Jaffa Ballogou “The African Assassin” is ready to get into the ring and start his new drive towards the big stage.
BY: Robert Epstein