I’m happy to get refund at last — D.K. Poison

Ghanaian boxing legend, David Kotey Poison, says he is a happy man and finally at peace after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had directed that an amount of $45,000, owed him by the state be paid to him on “compassionate grounds”, a close associate of the boxer has revealed.

A letter dated September 28, 2020 and addressed to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Asiamah; the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, stated that President Akufo-Addo had approved the payment of the money to Ghana’s first world champion. It was a response to a letter by the ministry last June indicating there were enough grounds for the state to refund the money claimed by the man affectionately called D.K. Poison.https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?action=like&app_id=342494502508165&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df3611e7a2d5e5d4%26domain%3Dwww.graphic.com.gh%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.graphic.com.gh%252Ff3d8a7559e7f86%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=634&href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2FGraphic-Online-104057148081101%2F%3F_rdc%3D1%26_rdr&layout=standard&locale=en_GB&sdk=joey&share=true&size=large&width=

A journalist and close associate of the retired boxer, Mr Ekow Asmah, told the Daily Graphic that D.K. Poison was overjoyed when he broke the news to him yesterday about the President’s directive.  He said the 69-year-old said he was a happy man and was at peace as his long battle for justice had finally yielded positive result.

“Then I broke the news to him this morning, D.K. Poison broke into praise of God for making it happen for him. ‘Oh, this is the work of God’, he acknowledged, almost in sorrow, given the history of his plea for the refund dating back over four decades”, Mr Asmah said.

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D.K. Poison became Ghana’s first world champion with a split points victory against the feared Reuben Olivares to claim the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title on September 20, 1975 in Inglewood, California.

In his heyday, the dreaded Ghanaian engaged in many tough battles until he hang up his gloves after his eighth career loss against compatriot Akwei ‘Razor’ Addo in a non-title fight in Accra.

However his toughest and longest fight took place outside the boxing ring as they made fruitless appeals to successive governments for nearly 44 years.

Six years ago during the Presidential Commission into Ghana’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign, the former champion narrated to the Justice Senyo Dzamfe-led panel how he had been rendered penniless after fruitless chase for his money. The Commission report also made an appeal for the government to look into the case to bring a closure to it.

However, it was President Akufo-Addo who gave D.K. Poison a listening ear at close range at the seat of government to bring an end to his 44-year torment.

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The approval for payment was a fulfillment of a promise by the President last year, when he hosted the former World Boxing Council featherweight champion and other former world champions at the Jubilee House, to ensure that the D.K. Poison’s claims were investigated and acted upon, if they were established.

At the meeting, the former world champion narrated to President Akufo Addo how part of his $75,000 purse from his title defence against Japan’s Shig Fukuyama in Tokyo on July 16, 1976 was used by the government to import mackerel for the state, at a time Ghana’s military government, led by General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, had been hit by economic sanctions and was in dire need of foreign currency.

Based on a promise by the accompanying government officials to have his purse paid to him in the local currency on his return to Ghana, the boxer “loaned” the money to be used to import commodities which were scarce in the country.

Subsequently, President Akufo-Addo promised to let the Sports Minister and Ghana Boxing Authority president, Mr Peter Zwennes, to handle the issue, following which the Ghana boxing chief presented some documentation on the legend’s claim to the minister on October 27, 2019.

$45,000 loan to state

“D.K. Poison earned $75,000 from the Fukuyama fight and was told he was to receive the money on his return to Accra via the Bank of Ghana.

“On his return he was paid ¢31,000 [equivalent to $30,000] and the rest has since been in arrears. He showed a payslip of the money paid to him by the government and the contract for the fight which detailed how much he earned. These were some of the documentary evidence he provided to the ministry as proof of the state’s indebtedness to him”, Mr Asmah said.

Mr Zwennes, who wrote a petition to the President on the issue, told the Daily Graphic that the boxer said he was happy to be alive to see this day and was, therefore, very grateful to President Akufo-Addo for coming to his aid.

“He’s excited and yet content so he’s not even talking about interest on the money.

“D.K. Poison keeps telling the same story all over the years; not a line has been added or subtracted from the story, so you know it’s the truth. And has kept important documents, including telegram messages on terms of payment, to prove his case”, said Mr Zwennes, who expressed the hope that the Ministry of Finance would expedite action on the President’s directive in order for the former champion, now poor and living a quiet life at his Teshie-Nungua Estates residence, to receive his money.