OLYMPIC boxing hero turned destitute, Prince Amartey, now seems to be dying on his feet after his numerous appeals to the state for help since the early 1990s received only promises and no definitive response.
The pugilist who won the bronze for Ghana in the Middleweight division at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 tries to eke out an existence (not a living) by working as a sweeper at a private health facility in Ho.
About three years ago, the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) pledged to rehabilitate him, but that promise faded out with the transfer of the then Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo to the Greater Accra Region.
Similar promises earlier by the RCC turned out to be vain oratory.
The 71-year old Amartey, who squats in the slums of Ho-Hliha, has no guaranteed meals, and so he wanders on the streets as a hungry man and a pauper.
When he won the medal in Munich, Amartey shared the podium with Marvin Johnson from Indianapolis, USA who also claimed the bronze in the Lightweight Division.
The American progressed to the professional ranks thereafter and twice reigned as the Lightweight champion of the world.
For Amartey, who was also a member of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the World Armed Forces Games in Rotterdam in 1971, things did not turn out rosy.
Since the inception of the All Africa Games in 1965, he took part in the tournament twice and first won the gold and later the bronze for Ghana.
In 1974 however, Amartey was dismissed from the Ghana Army as a result of mental health problems at the rank of a corporal.
He then returned to Ho to take up menial jobs to survive.
For years he worked as cleaner at the Ho YMCA Hall which was closed down a few years ago, after which the forgotten boxer casually worked as a farm hand in the municipality.
Now, the septuagenarian is weak, frail, and unsteady.
With most of his teeth missing and unsure where his next meal would come from, the neglected sportsman keeps saying that he feels betrayed by his country.
“I was always ready to put my life on the line for my country, but today Ghana does not care about me”, he once told The Ghanaian Times.
He also stated that he regrets not keeping contact with his opponents in the ring, who he believed may be willing to help me now.
Amartey still holds firmly onto the dream to enter a university one day to study music.
An unemployed member of the family of Amartey said that it was really shocking how the state could neglect him to such a dehumanising extent.
“Once they leave him like this to die we will not be happy to see them at his funeral”, the family member added.
From Alberto Mario Noretti, Ho