Legendary Ghanaian boxer Azumah Nelson has eulogised late president Jerry John Rawlings, explaining that but for the sacrifices and kindness of Rawlings, he (Azumah Nelson) would not have achieved the success he accomplished in his life.
Azumah Nelson says Rawlings’s impact on his life traverse from providing him with basic needs such as food and accommodation to helping him make the biggest and most crucial decision of his life.
Azumah, in a heartfelt tribute to the late president, said that at a point when he was considering joining the army, Rawlings advised him to focus on boxing and that turned out to be the best decision he made in his existence on earth.
Azumah’s relationship with the late president is well documented but little is known about how the boxer contributed to Rawlings’s debt to a beans seller.
He recounts in this touching tribute that at some point in his life it was the gari and beans supplied by Rawlings that kept him going.
"During your time as the Head of State, you showed effortless humility by cleaning my room and ensuring that my fellow boxing colleagues and I had a place to rest after rigorous training," Azumah.
"Always a man of subtle acts of kindness, for years while I trained as a struggling boxer, I would randomly receive portions of beans and gari. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered we were beneficiaries of the debt you owed the beans sellers. You even rented an apartment for me. In return, you only asked me to train hard and represent our beloved Ghana for the world to see that greatness can come from Ghana, the true gateway to Africa".
The boxing professor as he is known said he is deeply saddened by the death of his friend. He said that Rawlings’s death has left an ‘unfillable void in his life”.
Azumah believes God used ‘champion’ Rawlings to impact his life and he will forever be grateful to him.
"If he were before me today, I would say, without haste, that undeniably, God used you to change my life into the man the world celebrates today, as a former world boxing champion. You are indeed the true champion, a champion like no other. When I think of you and the impact you had on my professional career, and on the careers of countless others, you are unquestionably Godsent! I dedicated my biography, “The Professor” to you because you taught me so many life-building skills that played a direct role in bringing out the champion in me. You believed in me, even when I doubted myself. As the true professor, you shared “lessons in life” that demonstrated humility, gratitude and faith".