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September 12, 2019

Kwaku “The Earthquake” Boateng

The last time there was a player with the same nickname in the CFL it was the late 1950s and early 1960s, and it was Earl ‘The Earthquake’ Lunsford.

Boateng had never heard of him.

“Was he good?” asked the Edmonton Eskimos defensive end.

Yes, I explained of the Calgary Stampeders running back. He’s in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

“I guess I’m with good company.”

There have been some sack attack legends in the league with memorable monikers like Dave ‘Dr. Death’ Fennell and Bill ‘The Undertaker’ Baker. But Kwaku ‘The Earthquake’ Boateng came by his honestly.

‘The Earthquake’ nickname was bestowed on Boateng by an announcer at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. And while it took a couple of seasons for it to catch up to Boateng in Edmonton, he’s not discouraging anybody from using it if for no other reason that it reminds people how to pronounce his first name.

It’s Kwaku as in quake.

There’s been a fascination with his first name since the day he arrived.

“My first name was supposed to be Akosah but when I came to Canada when I was two, my father when he was doing the paperwork put my middle name as my first name and my first name as my middle name,” he said.

“In the part of Ghana where I’m from, your middle name is supposed to be the day of the week because we value the days of the week. Kwaku stands for ‘Born On Wednesday’.”

Akosah Kwaku Boateng thus became Kwaku Akosah Boateng on his immigration papers and so Kwaku he became.

Whatever, there’s no denying Boateng is making a name for himself very early in his CFL career.

How many defensive players drafted in the fifth round as the 41st pick overall, become a CFL starter and star in their second season and are happily extended as a ratio-breaking potential face-of-a-franchise calibre player in their third?

With 17 sacks in his first 25 games as a starter, Boateng is just getting his engine warmed up.

“This is me going into my third year,” he said.

“As much as I learned the first two years, the way I’m evolving right now, I think I’m learning a lot more. I think I’m very fresh on the campaign and the path of my career. I think there’s a lot more I have to learn. Eventually, I want to be a top player in this league.”

Ratio breaker?

Boateng doesn’t even want to hear the term.

“I don’t even care about that stuff. I want to win games, get sacks and pressure for my defence. When it comes down to whether I’m Canadian, American, Japanese or whatever, it doesn’t matter. I want to be the best player at my position.”

He isn’t aiming for CFL Awards as Most Outstanding Canadian or even Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

“I want to win championships. You can’t win championships by yourself. It’s a team effort, and I think we have a team that can definitely do that. My only goal is to win championships and make big plays to help us make that Grey Cup run.”

He said he has a great mentor in Almondo Sewell.

“Mondo has been my big brother ever since I got here,” said the defensive end of the interior defensive lineman who plays beside him.

He’s my locker buddy, and I look up to him a lot. I think he’s a great leader on and off the field. He’s definitely a force to be reckoned with on the field, but he’s also a great guy, and whenever I have questions about football or life outside of football, I go straight to him. He’s my big brother. So it means the world to me for him to be here.

“He helps with that continuity and chemistry we have. It’s an honour to play with an all-star like him,” he said of the five-time CFL All-Star.

“He’s taught me a lot on and off the field. Mondo has been a tremendous help for me in my career.”

The Eskimos, under new Defensive Coordinator Phillip Lolley, are playing an aggressive defence and Boateng is quite happy to have sacks coming from throughout the lineup.

“It’s tons of fun. It’s a competition every time we go on that field. As defensive linemen, we attack every snap. With coach Lolley’s aggressive mindset, it allows us all to attack the ball carrier, and everyone is juiced up on every play to get after it.”

Boateng says he’s very much embraced all things about becoming an Edmonton Eskimo.

“An Eskimo to me is someone who really truly loves the game on and off the field and shows respect to it and is committed to helping people around him.

“As a community-owned team, I think it’s about being trying to be a phenomenal player on the field but a phenomenal person off the field. That means getting into the community and doing great things beyond football.”