Boxing legend Amartey now suffers stroke

Boxing-hero-turned-destitute, Prince Amartey is now incapacitated, after decades of appeals by the pugilist to the state for help fell on deaf ears. 

The septuagenarian, who won the bronze for Ghana in the middleweight division at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, has been suffering from mental health problems since leaving the ring. 

The former corporal of the Ghana Army who eked out a living by working as a sweeper at the private health facility in Ho had virtually been dying on his feet and losing weight drastically, with no guaranteed meals. 

“I was always there for my country, but my country is not there for me now”, Amartey says all the time. 

The uncompassionate stance of the state towards Amartey prompted public outcries in recent time, with many describing the state’s position as extremely cruel towards a national hero. 

A few sympathisers sometimes visited him in the slums of Ho-Hliha to make token food and cash donations to him. 

Ailing Amartey, who has been sleeping in darkness for years due to his inability to pay for electricity, still cherishes a dream to study music in the university. 

On Sunday, he requested to see this reporter and then granted him permission to take a picture of him on his sick-bed to highlight his plight once again to the nation in the newspapers. 

A niece and carer of the boxer, Madam Grace Ababio, told this reporter that Amartey fell ill about a month ago as a result of which his mobility reduced rapidly and he became completely inactive. 

About a decade 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 VRCC turned out to be vain oratory. 

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 boxing team 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 the mental health problems afflicting him, 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 years ago, after which the forgotten boxer casually worked as a farm hand in the municipality. 

With most of his teeth missing and unsure where his next meal would come from, the neglected sportsman said that he felt 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 Times Sports. 

Amartey also stated that he regretted not keeping contacts with his opponents in the ring, who he believed may be willing to help me today. 

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,” they added. 

In a touching display of compassion, the Steve Biko Clinic in Ho is treating Amartey for free.

“We carry him to the clinic twice every week,” said his niece.

FROM ALBERTO MARIO NORETTI, HO-HLIHA

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