The government’s decisive action to pay back US$45,000 owed the retired world boxing champion David Kotei, better known as D K Poison, is an indication of how President Akufo-Addo has led this country, says a consultant to the Ghana Boxing Authority, Moses Foh Amoaning.
Foh Amoaning was speaking in an interview with the host of The Asaase Breakfast Show, Kojo Mensah, following a decision by the government to clear the debt owed to the former boxing legend.
“This issue of resolving D K Poison’s problem which has dogged this country over so many years is just an example of how [Akufo-Addo] has led this country, and I am not being political at all – I am just speaking the truth as it is, because I have seen it all for so many years,” Foh Amoaning said.
“I wasn’t surprised because I raised it with him. I knew once he decided he was going to deal with it … he was going to deal with it. So I am happy and proud as a Ghanaian, because DK has been labouring under this whole feeling of a nation rejecting him for so many years.”
The former president of the GBA believes the gesture could not have come at a better time than the 45th anniversary of Poison winning the world title for the nation, Ghana’s first.
“You can imagine: 20 September was the 45th anniversary of when he won the world title for Ghana. And to think that this man sacrificed $45,000 of his purse in his fight against Shigefumi Fukuyama so that Ghanaians could enjoy some essential commodities in those days.
“I think it is heart-warming that this matter has been put to rest.”
The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, ordered late last month that the $45,000 that Ghana owes the retired boxing champion be paid to him.
In a letter dated 28 September 2020, issued and signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the president directed the Ministry of Finance to pay the said amount on “compassionate grounds”.
D K Poison imprinted his name in the sands of time when he became Ghana’s first-ever world boxing champion on 20 September 1975. He defeated the WBC world featherweight champion, Reubén Olivares of Mexico, in a 15-round bout in Inglewood, California.
The following year, he successfully defended his title in a fight with the Japanese boxer Shigefumi Fukuyama.
After four decades of pursuing the debt, the boxing champion will receive the money he loaned to Ghana. This comes after Poison and his lawyers sent a petition to the Office of the President in September 2019 requesting that the government pay him the US$45,000.
In October last year, D K Poison met Nana Akufo-Addo and the president promised to resolve the claim by the featherweight champion.
D K Poison became the first Ghanaian boxer to win a world title in 1975 with the win over Rubén Olivares. He defended his title successfully three times, defeating Shigefumi Fukuyama on the third occasion, in 1976.
He earned $75,000 from the clash and lent the whole sum to help Ghana through a difficult financial patch.
The then head of state, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, instructed Poison to use his earnings to import mackerel and other essential items as a loan to the state.
He spent years asking for his money back. After the overthrow of the Acheampong regime in 1978 successive governments ignored Poison’s pleas.
D K Poison has granted several interviews about the incident in which, he said, he was handed back only $34,000 out of the total $75,000 purse.
Now, however, President Akufo-Addo has directed the Finance Ministry to expedite payment of $45,000 to the boxing legend.
The letter from the Office of the President, which was addressed to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, and copied to Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, the Chief of Staff, the Minister for Finance, the director general of the National Sports Authority, the chairman of the Ghana Boxing Authority and D K Poison, directs Finance to pay the boxer the money borrowed from him.
Nathaniel Crabbe and Fred Dzakpata