DAVID KOTEI POISON
First Ghanaian World Boxing Champion
The Los Angeles Forum was packed to capacity. Over 90 percent of the 10,000 spectators were rooting for Ruben Olivares, the champion with an impressive record of 85 fights (77 wins – 69 by KOs and 5 losses). But as the fight progressed, the largely partisan crowd looked on with awe as the Ghanaian challenger fought gallantly.
In the very early rounds, he sent the champion to the canvas for a count of eight. In rounds two and four, the champion again visited the canvas. But champions die hard, so Olivares fought hard to the end of the fifteenth round. As the final bell rang, he gave a silent bow to his fans.
But before the final decision could be announced, supporters of the champion, sensing defeat invaded the ring, hurling bottles and chairs, forcing officials to retreat. In the calm of the dressing room, it was announced that the referee had scored 145-144 for Olivares, the two judges, however, had Poison ahead a point each on their cards.
By split decision therefore the Ghanaian became the new World Boxing (WBC) featherweight champion of the world in that early morning of September 21, 1975. This brought to fruition D. K. Poison’s childhood dreams of becoming a world-beater.
Born on July 12, 1950, to Abraham Kotei of Asere Djornshie, Ga Mashie in Accra, and Dede Asasey from Ada, he was at birth said to resemble his late grandfather, Poison Kotei, an outstanding street brawler; hence he was named after him.
At the Baptist Primary School and later the Rowe road (now Kinbu School), Accra, he established himself as a boy of exceptional bravery and footballer of terrific strength.
Like many boys of his days domiciled in Accra, his desire was to play for Accra Hearts of Oak or Aurora’s football clubs and become a great footballer. An incident in his penultimate year at school was, however, to turn his mind to boxing. He recounts:
One day a classmate by the name of Sonny Davis brought a newspaper to the class. He pasted the picture on the blackboard with an arrow on Bob Allotey, the then national featherweight champion, and by it was a remark Kwemo, Edze David Kotei Eei (Look, he resembles David Kotei).
After all the giggling and teasing by my mates had stooped, I decided to take a closer look at the picture; I noticed I resemble the boxer in question. So rather than picking a fight with Davis as I characteristically would have done, I decided from that day to call myself Bob Allotey (Junior). Perhaps in a desire to be what I called myself, I also began making regular calls at the J. K. Mensah Boxing Club at Kotobabi to see what boxing was like. One day, the trainer, who had taken notice of my regular visits, put gloves on my hands and gave me a sparring partner. Noticing my enthusiasm and potentials, he picked me up for training.
According to D. K., although he was small and would have loved to start from a lower division, possibly a bantamweight, because a stablemate, McCauley Adonaba, was in hot contention for the national crown in that division, he was therefore compelled to fight in a higher division, that is, the featherweight.