Former professional boxer teaches the next generation in Paterson

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PATERSON -

A former professional boxer is now teaching the next generation of athletes at a boxing gym in Paterson.

Osamanu “The Ghanaian Gladiator” Yahaya is originally from Ghana. He started his professional boxing career in 1996 and won several world and regional titles.

He moved from Ghana to England and then to the United States. He says that boxing has meant a lot to him. He says that he even changed his name to Ossie Duran because it was easier to say in the ring.

But Yahaya was forced to retire after 18 years after suffering a detached retina in his right eye.

“I was mad. I was disappointed. I was sad,” he says.

But Yahaya says that now he enjoys coaching at Ike and Randy's boxing gym in Paterson.

"When I'm in the gym, it’s like I'm in my second world. I like to do this. I like to help the kids,” he says.

Phil Sheevak has owned the gym for 24 years.

"They hear about Ossie and they come in asking for him,” Sheevak says. “I'm the owner and they ask for Ossie."

Yahaya says that he understands some of the kids that come through the gym. He grew up moving from one friend's home to another while his parents were dealing with an ugly divorce. He says boxing saved his life. Many of his students say the same thing.

"When I was little and in school I used to get bullied a lot. I didn’t really know how to defend myself. I was like the weak link,” one student says.

Yahaya says that he hopes to turn some of his students into champions, just like him.

"I thank God very much. He put me on the right path. He kept me on the right path,” he says.

Yahaya ended his professional career with 28 wins and 11 knockouts.

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