In Cameroon, the former boxing champion, Georges Bekono, who had transitioned into a small-scale business after a long and illustrious career as a pugilist, passed away on Thursday, October 19, on the streets of Yaoundé. This is a poignant reflection on the life of a professional in the noble art whose journey culminated in abject destitution.
Georges Bekono had been a prominent figure in the Cameroonian boxing scene, clinching the national championship title multiple times. In a heartrending twist of fate, his life ended in stark contrast to the glory he had once known.
For the past decade, Bekono had been selling pineapples on the sidewalks of Mfoundi Market. Today, his fellow traders are seething with anger and disappointment, unable to comprehend how a national champion could be left to fend for himself.
Eric expressed his frustration, “Cameroon has cast him aside like trash. The Cameroonian Boxing Federation has been callous in its treatment. If they truly wish to assist him, they should take responsibility for his children, whom he leaves behind.”
Franc Joseph, whose stall was adjacent to Georges Bekono’s, was taken aback by the sudden departure of the noble art professional, whom they affectionately called “Paix champion.” He shared, “We are overwhelmed, still deeply affected. It’s hard to fathom that he’s gone, just like that, without saying goodbye to anyone.”
Georges Bekono’s boxing career has been distinguished by numerous accolades. His early days in the sport date back to 1993, and he went on to claim the Cameroonian championship multiple times. In 1995, he was crowned the champion of Zone 4, further cementing his reputation. He pursued a brief professional career between 2002 and 2009, showcasing his remarkable talent and dedication to the sport.
Tragically, Georges Bekono’s wife had passed away just a year before his demise. His life took a heart-wrenching turn when he suffered a sudden illness on that fateful Thursday morning, right in front of the former Camp de l’Unité. This location had been a hallowed ground for him, where he had shone brightly and contributed significantly to the Cameroonian boxing legacy for over a decade.
The story of Georges Bekono serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges that athletes, even champions, can face in the twilight of their careers. It is a call to action for a more compassionate and supportive sports community, ensuring that those who once brought glory to their nation are not forgotten and left to struggle in their later years.