Joseph Bessala (Boxer)

Name Bessala
Other Names Joseph
Date of Birth1941-00-00

Detailed Biography


The first Olympic Games medallist, boxer and welterweight, Joseph Bessala was a reigning champion in the ring, often referred to as ‘Joe Jympsy’ or ‘Big Joe’, who sadly died at the age of 68 following a stroke.

Several times champion of Cameroon, he represented his country at the 13th Olympic Games in Mexico City,in 1968. He lost to German fighter, Manfred Wölke in the final walking away with the silver medal, the first Olympic medal for his country.


In 1965, Bessala won the All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. He twice won the African Championships in welterweight: in 1966 in Lagos, Nigeria, (prevailing over Ghanaian, Eddie Blay in the final) and 1968 in Lusaka, Zambia, where he prevailed in the final fight over the Zambian, Julius Luipa, whom he beat again at the Olympic Games. He won the silver medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. In the final, he was lost to East Germany's Manfred Wolke.


In October, Bessala started his professional career with a victory in the first round, where he defeated the Belgium's Jean-Pierre Heirmann with a technical knockout. Six victories, one draw, and yet another five victories followed.

In November 1974, the last victory over Eddie Blay from Ghana, who had won the bronze medal in the class of super lightweight in 1964, gained Bessala the African title in the welterweight class. The title was taken from him by Salem Ouedraogo from the Côte d'Ivoire in January 1976. After a longer break, Bessala gained back the African title from his fellow countryman, Bechir Boundka in June, 1978. He aimed to defend this title again in his 16th fight, but Mimoun Mohatar from Morocco knocked him out in the 12th round in December, 1978. Bessala took the consequences and retired from boxing.