Rawlings commends Akufo-Addo for refunding $45,000 to D K Poison

Former president says the decision to pay back money a military government extorted from the boxing champion is gratifying

Jerry John Rawlings has commended President Akufo-Addo for taking a bold decision to refund a sum of US$45,000 that Ghana owes the retired boxing legend David Kotei, better known as D K Poison.

A statement issued by the office of the former president said: “It is also noteworthy that the president’s decision was informed by the report of an investigative team that looked into the retired world champion’s petition before the payment was approved.”

Rawlings said it was gratifying that President Akufo-Addo has chosen to approve the payment on compassionate grounds.

Financial management

“We have, for decades, observed how some of our outstanding sportsmen have become destitute because of the lack of a steady income,” the former president said. “It is also important that our successful sportsmen show graciousness to some of our retired sportsmen who are in need.”

Rawlings advised Poison to use the money prudently to serve as an example to retired athletes.

“The best testament of gratitude D K Poison can show to the President and the country will be to manage the funds judiciously,” he urged.

“I take this opportunity to urge our successful sportsmen to endeavour to manage their resources in a prudent manner as they retire relatively younger and have to contend with whatever resources they earned while in active sports,” Rawlings said.

40-year quest

D K Poison has been in the headlines since Tuesday, after news broke that President Akufo-Addo had ordered that $45,000 Ghana owes the retired world boxing champion be paid bacl to him.

In a letter dated 28 September 2020, issued and signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, Akufo-Addo directed the Ministry of Finance to pay the sum to Poison on “compassionate grounds”.

After 45 years pursuing his money, the champion will receive the unpaid balance out of a total $75,000 he lent to Ghana.

Petition gets principled response

The official decision comes after the boxer and his lawyers sent a petition to the Office of the President in September 2019, requesting that the government pay him back the money he lent the Acheampong-led military government – the purse for a title defence fight against the Japanese boxer Shigefumi Fukuyama in 1976.

The payment will fulfil a promise President Akufo-Addo made to the boxing legend in October last year after a meeting between the two men.

D K Poison shot to fame when he became Ghana’s first-ever world boxing champion on 20 September 1975, defeating the then WBC featherweight title holder, Reubén Olivares, in a 15-round bout in Inglewood, California.

Fred Dzakpata

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