Boxing champ thrilled by namesake

Tony and Professor Barimah Azumah Nelson

Tony and Professor Barimah Azumah Nelson

He may live in the West African nation of Ghana, but former triple world champion boxer Azumah Nelson is keeping a close watch on the deeds of his namesake, rising harness racing star, Barimah.

"Barimah" is the Ashanti word for "brave one", and the pacer is certainly living up to his name, with this season posting four wins and two seconds from six starts, amassing $60,000 in stakes.

The title "Barimah" was given to Nelson by the Ashanti King at the height of the champ's boxing career during the 1980s.

Tony has had a close friendship with Nelson, and has been waiting for the right horse to name in his honor.

"I have used 'Azumah' in naming a few horses but it was just a matter of waiting for a special one to carry the name 'Barimah'," Tony said.

"He showed me early days that he was going to be much better than average and I'm so happy that I have picked the right horse for that name.

"I was in touch with Azumah before Christmas and he'd been keeping tabs on Barimah.  He was excited that the horse had been so brave in winning some of those races.

"He's a harness racing fan and wished everyone success in the New Year."

Barimah will need not only bravery, but an ounce of luck, from a tricky second-row draw at Globe Derby on Saturday night in the Group One $100,000 South Australian Pacing Cup.

Barimah comes from barrier 9 (two off the back row), with the John Justice-trained Hotasel in front of him.  Fingers crossed that Hotasel shows his customary gate speed, which may give Barimah a handy spot early.

Dual interdominion placegetter Flaming Flutter (former South Australian Geoff Webster) has drawn favorably in barrier 5.

Square gaiter Irish Whisper, winner of 14 races, is going around in the $30,000 South Australian Trotters Cup.  

He is the sole back-marker off 30 metres in a race that has plenty of class.  

But Irish Whisper has proved in recent months that he is big-time performer, having previously won the St Arnaud Cup (Nov 15) and Cobram Cup (Dec 27).

The Irish Whisper/Damian Wilson combination will be hard to hold out again.