Team GB boxer Ramtin Musah is at the start of a journey that could see amateur and professional gold in his future. A podium potential athlete should he reach the Paris 2024 Olympics, Musah is taking aim at the best of the amateur world before hoping to make a splash in the pro ranks.
The Sportsman caught up with the focused 23-year-old as he talked about growing up in Ghana, learning when to put in work and what it’s like inside Team GB.
Talk to me about your upbringing in Ghana and what made you move to the UK?
So I was originally born in Ghana. I lived with my grandma and my Dad when I was younger, so they brought me up. My Dad used to be a teacher and he met my little sister's Mum while he was teaching. So he moved to England with her and then eventually brought me over and then I've been to and fro to Ghana. But it was 2012 when we settled here completely. I've been here ever since but I do go back quite often. I went back last year. I try and go back as much as possible.
How did you discover boxing?
So my friends and I used to play football and they used to say “we go boxing because it's extra fitness, it’s really good for you”. So I was like “Ah I'll tag along”. So I went down one time and my coach said “he’s got quite a lot of potential this kid, but we’ve gotta get him working”.
I didn't have my first fight for two-and-a-half, three years because I was so lazy. I didn't like working hard. It was hard for me to do the runs and everything like that. I used to forget my gum shield when it came to sparring. My coach is one of them that believes in throwing you in at the deep end. It’s sink or swim. So I used to get beat up and I used to hate it.
Then one day my dad saw my coach and asked, “how’s my son doing?”. My Dad doesn't ever want to force a kid to do a sport. “If he wants to go he'll go off his own back”. Because the gym was only a 15 minute walk for me, there was no excuse for me not to go.
So my Dad saw my coach and then they spoke. He said, “Do you want the truth? He has so much potential but he’s so lazy”. My Dad’s come back, he said “I’ve just seen your coach. You said boxing has been going amazing! If you don't want to go, don't waste their time and don't waste your time. But if you're gonna do something you’ve gotta give 100%”. After a couple of months of giving it 100%, I had my first fight and won it by stoppage. From there I was like, “I can defo do this!”.
How did you hook up with Team GB?
It started when I won my English title, I was only a 23-bout amateur. I moved up levels very quickly. But come 25 fights I was the national champion. I was a youth national champion beating 50-60 bouters. I went to the European Games and lost in the quarterfinals to Ukraine.
I got put forward for a trial and that was my first trial for GB, I think that was 2018. They picked someone else over me and we all know him now as Lewis Richardson. I had no experience, I rocked up there with around 30 fights and I was like “Why didn't they pick me?”. When I sit down and think about things, I wouldn’t have picked me back then. Obviously at the time I was young, I was very hungry and eager.
A year and a half later I had my next trial. I went to the ABAs twice, I placed in the finals. I had another 30-odd bouts, I was a 50-bouter then. By the time I did my trial it just all kind of clicked and all made sense.
Talk to me about your style, if someone hasn’t seen you before what can they expect when they watch you in the ring?
I'm typically a front-footed boxer. I bring a high workrate. I wouldn't say (I’m a) boxer-puncher but I'm quite strong for my weight. Then I can box on the back foot. I've had a fair few displays where I've had to be a bit slick and a bit smart, a bit cute.
It just depends mostly on the opponent. The opponent kind of dictates what style comes out of me. If I'm stood there with an absolute brawler, I'm not going to stand there and go toe to toe with him. I'm going to offer finesse, but then if I need to kind of dig in there and get in the trenches, then I'll oblige.
How did your nickname, Rambo, come about?
Have you ever heard of a boxer called Patrick Brown? His father gave it to me. So me and him, we're from the same region and we came up on the same circuit. I knew Pat when he was 64 kilos so when I first met Patrick Brown he was the weight below me now he boxes at 92 kilos plus!
We always used to spar and every time his Dad would say, “the way you fight…”. I used to push forward no matter what, I'd get hit with the biggest shot and take it and then keep going. So he gave me the nickname Rambo. And every single time he was like “Rambo come on let's go”. When I won my national title he said, “you won it like Rambo, dug in the trenches and kept on going”. You almost search for a nickname but it's got to naturally come, people have got to give it to you.
Can you talk to me about some of the trainers and fighters you’ve worked with down there?
I got into the programme when we had Cheavon Clarke, Ben Whitaker, Big Frazer (Clarke), Peter (McGrail), Pat. I always used to spar Pat. Pat was the one that taught me key lessons, the biggest thing was I couldn't switch off. It'd be like the silliest mistake ever, but he'd always made me pay tenfold for it.
With Ben and Cheavon, they all just helped me in general. Just with little bits of advice. They always looked after me even though I was new in the squad.
As you’ve touched upon, You won the England Boxing National Amateur Championships in 2021, beating Billy Le Poullain. What did that mean to you?
I felt like it was the most emotional time because the first time I boxed there, I boxed Jordan Reynolds in London in the semifinals and lost on a three-two split. I was absolutely devastated and a few coaches came up to me saying they thought we did enough.Then the next year I made it to the finals, I beat a few very good lads on the way. Then I boxed Mark Dickinson and I came up just short. I was literally within touching distance of it and I just came up short.
The third time, it was like the stars kind of aligned and it just happened for me. It was amazing for me at the time. All the tournaments, I feel like the level of opposition I face is a lot higher than what I faced in the Nationals. But that did solidify me on GB and everything like that. It was just icing on the cake really, to finish off my 2021.
I know the Olympic dream is a big thing for you. What would it mean to go to Paris and come home with a medal?
At the moment it’s looking very promising. There's a few of us at the weight but the weight’s wide open. Me and three others have been given a chance to show…the next few tournaments determine who goes.
If I turn around and do what I know I can do in the next two tournaments. End up medaling and being the best version myself, I know I'll beat most everybody out there. One thing Rob McCracken always says is “most of the time the team picks itself”. There might be one weight or maybe two where two lads are like that, and it's very, very close. But most of the time the lads pick themselves. In the coming weeks, someone will step up and I believe it's me.
Do you have any boxers who you look up to and want to emulate?
I try and take a little bit from everybody. I'll never sit there and be like, “This person is my hero, my everything”. You almost put them on a pedestal and I don't really believe in that.
I've been always taught to, not humble, but to always bring people down to ground level. Because they’re only human at the end of the day. I always admire certain things from certain people, like the way they carry themselves, the way they box. Then I try and pick a little bit and then try and add it to myself. Because I'm an open book. I'm always up for learning and picking up new things. Because you're never the finished article.
You've done Ambassador work, you've gone to schools to talk to kids about your experiences., What advice do you give the next generation that wants to follow in your footsteps?
My biggest thing is like, everyone always tries to look at it like the grand scheme. Like if I told myself when I was younger, I'd be here (now), I wouldn't have believed it myself. But then I'm still nowhere near where I want to be in life.
One thing I've noticed between Ghana and the UK is that if you genuinely work hard towards something, there's so many opportunities to do well. It's kind of on you to push, to grind. If you really push yourself, do everything possible, you will get to where you need to be.
The GB programme is very good. They always give you equal opportunity to get onto the programme and if there's a money aspect, they always find a way. There's always something to help you out whereas in other countries, there might just not be the funding. There's always ways that you can get funding or get a bit of charity to help you get to your dream. So I always just tell them, whatever you want to be, just work hard towards it because the sky's the limit. It's a genuine message, a genuine fact.
Once the Olympic dream has been accomplished, are you looking at going straight into the pros? Or will you be going to future tournaments with GB?
What comes next is definitely the professional ranks. With everything going on saying that the Los Angeles Olympics might not be happening, I just don't feel like I'm gonna sit around and wait for the next four years.
I feel like I’ll be my prime age, I'll be 25 years old turning professional. I think it’s just the right time for me because then I've got a good eight to 10 maximum years in me and then I'll be done and done and dusted.
Finally, if you could fight any boxer out there today, who would you choose?
It depends on what weight I sit at. There's some great matchups. I'm quite a big fan of Caleb Plant and a few others. Megafights are really cool but I've never really thought about it.
Whoever's out there at the time, whoever holds the belts. I don't really try and look into it too much, it isn't in my vision right now. But yeah, the likes of Caleb Plant obviously. I'd love to get an all-UK fight against one of the ex-GB lads. or something like that. That'd be a great one.