Generally, every boxer’s dream is to win as many championships and belts as possible. True, there may be side businesses that may come up out of the interests of the boxer — investments here and there — but to leave the ring entirely and give all the ‘upper cut’ and go ‘below the belt’ as well as give ‘jabs’ to chickens is quite unheard of. Still, “The Pocket Battleship” had to live out his dream.
Born June 5, 1967, Francis Ampofo, nicknamed “The Pocket Battleship”, is a former professional boxer who was born in Ghana and competed from 1990 to 2002. In 1994, the Ghanaian British made one bid for the WBO flyweight championship. He twice held the British flyweight championship at the regional level from 1991 to 1994 and the Commonwealth flyweight championship from 1993 to 1955.
Ampofo immigrated to the Bethnal Green neighborhood as a young child after leaving his birth city of Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s main city in southern Ghana. He was drawn to the boxing division of the Hoxton Lion Club on Pitfield Street. He ventured into boxing as a way of learning self-defense. Despite making it to the English flyweight semifinals of the ABA championships in 1989, where he was defeated by the famous John Lyon (Greenall St. Helens), who at that point in his career had won seven national Senior ABA titles, he did not have a particularly noteworthy amateur career overall.
Ampofo decided to enter the professional ranks with Barry Hearn’s Match room promotion, making his debut in January 1990 at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, where he defeated Neil Parry in a six-round fight. There was a very strong crop of British flyweights at the time, and in his second fight, a six-rounder against Welsh prodigy Robbie Regan in March 1990, again at York Hall, Ampofo was defeated on points. In September 1991, five matches later, he won the British flyweight title.
Following a head-on collision, Robbie Regan was stopped in the eleventh round of a twelve-round fight due to a nasty gash over his left eye, which required 30 stitches. Three fights later, Ampofo was re-crowned the British flyweight champion after convincingly defeating James Drummond of Scotland 118.5-116 to take home the vacant title in December 1992 at Grosvenor House in Mayfair. In June 1993, Ampofo won the vacant Commonwealth flyweight title. A year later, in June 1994, at York Hall, he fought South African Jake Matlala for the latter’s WBO title
Ampofo retired after nine rounds of a twelve-round fight that was scheduled, with the champion well in the lead. Ampofo was small-framed, standing about 5 feet 1.5 inches tall. With a knockout in the twelfth and final round in March 1996, South African Daniel Ward stole Ampofo’s Commonwealth title.
Title problems persisted in April 1997 when Vince Feeney defeated Ampofo on points to win the vacant Southern Area bantamweight belt. Worse was to come when Merseysider Paul Lloyd defeated Ampofo in October 1997 by a score of 118-117.5 points to win the Commonwealth title and the vacant British bantamweight strap. Ampofo last won a title in January 1999, when he defeated Scotland’s Shaun Anderson in the ninth round to claim the unheralded IBO Inter-Continental bantamweight crown in Glasgow. His final ring record likely did not do him due overall, but he twice held the titles of British and Commonwealth champion, which is an impressive accomplishment in any fighter’s book.
Years after all of this, a time well spent in the ring, Ampofo is now a dedicated farmer who focuses all his punches on expanding his poultry farm, which is his source of income now. He invested his wins from boxing and today, his poultry farm produces 2,500 eggs a day with plans to add more chickens.