Sports News of Thursday, 9 June 2016
Ghanaian businessman, Dr Kofi Amoah, admitted that he shed tears in his quiet time, upon hearing of the passing of Muhammad Ali his personal friend.
“He is the second American whose death has moved me to tears after President John Kennedy,” he said in an interview at his Citizen Kofi Office complex in Accra.
Meeting Muhammad Ali and striking friendship
The friendship unconsciously started back in 1964 in when the legend visited Ghana and made his way to the Garden City of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region to pay homage to the Asantehene, Osei Agyeman Prempeh II.
“I was a pupil in a village school in Tikrom near Kumasi. Our head master gathered us to meet Ali at the airport. To my surprise I appeared on front page of the national newspaper, the Daily Graphic. “There was my little face standing next to the legend. I was very fascinated because I didn’t expect to appear that conspicuously in the newspaper that day. He had a huge frame with an imposing figure. He also had an exciting persona which we were all excited about,” Dr Kofi Amoah narrated.
It had to be the case that decades later when Kofi Amoah had grown into a successful young businessman following his education in the US, he settled in his home in Los Angeles, where Muhammad Ali coincidentally also lived.
The two were to unite again after a mutual acquaintance invited the Ghanaian to attend a party organized by Ali in the same city. “It was great meeting him again and when I reminded him of his Ghana visit, he started talking about the beautiful people, the warmth and the food – jollof rice to be specific.
“I cook very well so I once invited him over to my place to enjoy a fine jollof rice meal but other engagements took him away. So I packaged the food and had it sent to him. He sent me a message saying he had thoroughly enjoyed a meal,” Dr Kofi Amoah revealed.
Citizen Kofi as he is affectionately called in Ghana, added that he and the legend communicated from time to time via phone. “We partied together as well. We used to go the nite clubs together. We always had a good time anytime we went on those reveling sprees,” he added with a smile.
Last interaction with the legend
According to Citizen Kofi the last time he interacted with the legend was a week before he was diagnosed with Parkisnon’s disease. “Those of us who spoke to him often could tell changes gradually in his voice and his energy level going down. After that we lost contact and since he had moved out of Los Angeles his contact number changed. So that was my last interaction with him,” he revealed.
Dr Amoah told this writer that Muhammad Ali severally spoke about wanting to visit Ghana a second time but unfortunately this did not happen.
Impressions made on Dr Kofi Amoah
“He made a tremendous impact on all those of us who came across him. His influence was not just through sports or boxing but through his humanity and his belief for justice and civil rights which impacted on many people. I was quite fortunate to have a chance to know him.”
“For three years at the height of his sports career, he couldn’t fight as a result of denouncing the Vietnam war and he lost millions of dollars. It tells a story of how we as humans can emulate Ali’s example in the sacrifices we can make for others. In following our beliefs and doing what we can to resurrect and make changes, whether it’s about justice, civil rights, or economic independence. For us in Africa, this is where we are in terms of elevating the lives of our people, and Ali’s life is a shining example of what we can accomplish,” Dr Amoah summed up.
Dr Kofi Amoah, together with many other invited guests will attend a memorial for the fallen legend at the W.E.B. Dubios Center in Accra on Friday June 10, the day of Ali’s burial in his native Louiseville.
Dr Amoah a.k.a. Citizen Kofi, is the Executive Chairman of Progeny Ventures, with investments in real estate and finance in Ghana and the US.
He was the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2008 edition of the Africa Cup of Nation’s which was described by the international sporting community as a resounding success.