“The only thing they want to see is white,” is a line used by Africa’s greatest World Champion Azumah Nelson in the new documentary “Return to Your Corner” about Africa’s first-ever Boxing World Champion, Battling Siki.
The Professor is talking about how in Siki’s time the world did not want to see a Black World Champion, and the powers that be at that time would do all they could to keep a black man down. This is what makes Siki’s rise to the top even more remarkable.
The documentary directed and produced by Ashley Morrison – who wrote Azumah’s biography – does not pull any punches when it comes to the blatant racism used against Battling Siki, and it is this that makes this film so powerful.
“Return to Your Corner” had its premiere at the New York Athletic Club in February, at an event hosted by the World Boxing Council and attended by a number of World Champions including Iran Barkley, Michael Spinks, Vinny Paz, and Franchon Cruz Dezurn.
Apart from the subject matter being about Africa’s first boxing World Champion and Azumah being featured in the film there are even greater connection to Azumah and Ghana.
Dave Harper and Geodrill were the first to come on board as a sponsor when Ashley Morrison decided to pursue his dream of making a documentary about Battling Siki.
“I had never heard of Siki until I was writing Azumah’s biography,” Morrison admitted. “The commentator announced when Azumah beat Wilfredo Gomez to with the Featherweight world title that Azumah was the sixth World Champion from Africa.” This was 1984, and I thought that cannot be right. When I went back through the record books, I found that until the African nations claimed their independence in the 1960’s all the World Champions prior to that time were in the record books as belonging to their colonial power. Battling Siki being in the record books as being French. I did not feel that was right.”
Siki was murdered in New York at the age of 28, and the World Boxing Council returned his remains to Senegal in 1993. “The film is titled ‘Return to Your Corner’” Morrison explained, “because Siki has been returned to Africa, and I want to see his World Title returned too. Hopefully, the film will see that happen.