Three young brothers who are students of Hope of Glory Montessori School, Mamprobi in Accra were the talk of town when the first ever Grappling Ghana Open Championship came off last Saturday at the Alko International School. It was for good reason because the trio won medals in their respective competitions to underline their rising dominance in the combat sport.
12-year-old, Zoe Amoonu Bernie-Johnson, Aaron Bentwum Bernie-Johnson, 10, and six-year-old Leon Afrim Bernie-Johnson, all sons of Evans Bernie-Johnson, Executive Director of the Professional Combat Sports Association of Ghana (PROCSAG), have made their mark in the still burgeoning sport and Saturday at the maiden Ghana Open was no exception.
Zoe Amoonu, the eldest of the trio won in the boys Under-13 division after he saw off competition from an equally strong Gregory Edem Kojo to emerge the champion.
The JHS 1 pupil grabbed the gold medal and with it a spot in Team Ghana for the upcoming camping session ahead of the world championships in Lithuania in September.
Ten-year-old Aaron, the second of the Bernie-Johnson brothers, tied for third place in the same boys Under-13 category and secured himself a bronze. It is just the tonic for more successes for the young grappler who has also starred in Karate-do where he has a green belt, just like his elder brother, Zoe.
“I was a little disappointed not to win my category but next time I will try to be the best because I’m very determined to take the sport to the next level. The more competitions we get to compete in, the better I think I can get,” said young Aaron who is a grade 6 pupil.
“It’s a bit difficult to combine grappling with school but most often it’s easy for me because I do the grappling and other sports at the weekend but even then I also take advantage of any little time I get to learn. So I think many other young people especially students can get in because it can only make you smarter and also strong.”
The youngest of the brothers, Leon, is just a grade 1 pupil but already boasts a couple of competition victories and became the first-ever Ghana Open Under-9 champion following victory over Nii Annang Afah Okang, a pupil of Home Care School, Dansoman.
Young Leon had already earned plaudits by finishing 4th, only behind three grapplers from Lithuania in the International Grappling GI Techniques Demonstration virtual tournament against many European countries including Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine back in May.
His older brothers were also winners in the same competition with Zoe earning the 4th position in boys under 13 and Aaron finishing slightly better in third in the boys under 11 division behind European grapplers.
“By God’s grace and my own hard work I was able to win first position in this competition. I’m really proud that my hard work paid off like this but it only means more time in the gym because I want to be the very best and beat anyone I get into a combat with, I want to remembered as one of the very best to ever compete in this sport,” Zoe Amoonu Bernie-Johnson said after his victory at the Ghana Open.
“It’s certainly not easy combining this with school but there are many advantages competing in this sport that I work hard to balance the two because it means you are highly educated and your grappling technique also ensures you know how to defend yourself even in real life situations,” young Zoe affirmed.