After obediently consenting to loan the Government of Ghana in 1976 a sum of $45,000 for the purchase of canned mackerel to mitigate the harsh conditions the country was facing then, Ghana's first professional Boxer, 'D.K. Poison' is yet to be reimbursed.
Between intermittent dry coughs, the man who became Ghana's first World Featherweight Champion narrated how he has become penniless after years of neglect by different governments to pay him back his money, and perhaps give him the appropriate recognition as a true boxing legend.
David Kotei, known popularly as 'D.K. Poison', on Wednesday told host of Metro TV's 'Sports File', Ernest Koranteng, that Ghana's military head of state between 1972 and 1978, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, sent a telex to his management, a syndicate headed by one Col John Slater – who is still alive – to use part of the money he had won after defending his title against Japan's Fuku Yama in 1976 to purchase the tinned fish.
He explained that he felt privileged to be called upon by Ghana's head of state to assist the country at such a critical time so he obliged without a second thought.
However, shortly after the canned mackerels arrived in Ghana Acheampong's regime was overthrown by the Jerry Rawlings' coup. Acheampong was subsequently executed by the new military regime.
But since then the boxing legend, who was described by Azuma Nelson on the same programme as a great inspiration to him, has been chasing after his cash.
D.K. Poison recalled that after the coup, he went to see "Chairman Rawlings" about the cash and was referred to one Nathan Kwao who incidentally was also in government during Acheampong's time.
But Nathan Kwao, who is now deceased, told D.K. Poison – to his utter amazement – that he (Mr Kwao) thought the mackerels were gifts to the state.
Currently broke and without any employment, David Kotei is not finding life easy. When he was pushed by the show host to describe his current living condition, he modestly said he is "alright". But immediately after that answer, he said Ghanaians would be the best judge of his living condition.
D.K. Poison said he petitioned the late Prof Mills about the same matter, but unfortunately steps initiated by the President could not be completed before he passed on.
At the height of his boxing career, 'D.K. Poison' won the African featherweight title in 1974 when he knocked out Tahar Ben Hassen in the first round of a scheduled 15 round fight in Tunisia.
Later in 1974, he also won the Commonwealth featherweight title with a technical knockout over Evans Armstrong, a British boxer in round 10 of another scheduled 15-round bout. This victory gave him an opportunity to go for the World Boxing Council version of the world title.
On 20 September 1975, in The Forum, Inglewood, California, in the US, he beat Rubén Olivares by split points decision after 15 rounds to become the first Ghanaian world boxing champion.
Even though he admits he did not sign any official document before agreeing to purchase the canned mackerel, the boxing legend says he has not relented in getting back his money.
He said he has gone to see President John Mahama too over the $45,000 he loaned to government some 37 years ago. The President referred him to the Chief of Staff. But that pretty much seems to be the end of the story.
Atta Edee Pappoe, a renowned boxing referee believes beyond giving 'D.K. Poison' back his money, something must be done for the former champion because “he set the ball rolling for others to follow”.
He said 'D.K. Poison's' exploits inspired the springing up of fierce boxers from Bukom like Roy Ankrah, Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey and Briamah Kamoko (a.k.a Bukom Banku).
For now 'D.K Poison' says he is optimistic the current President will put an end to the labourious exercise of recounting his story from one administration to the other.
However, Ghanaians will be watching patiently to see how this government too will handle the story of a patriotic boxing legend.
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