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Counting the days: Ike Quartey, George Weah failed me!

BY: Vance Azu

In my near 30-year career, I interviewed top-notch personalities, including presidents, presidential candidates, secular and gospel musicians, past and current national soccer team players and entrepreneurs.

Apart from these classes of people, I was privileged to interview Members of Parliament (MPs), teachers, administrators as well as the downtrodden.

I had great content in most of these interviews, and the subsequent publication of them, particularly when the publications yielded the desired results of bringing about change.

In most of these interviews, I tried to contact the personalities myself, while in some cases I routed them through third parties.

However, there were some interviewees who would agree to meet me for an interview, schedule the day and time, only to dissapoint me when I got to the venue, because they had a change of mind.

There are two world-acclaimed personalities, both of them sportsmen, who gave me the hope of interviewing them, only to back out at the last minute.

Ike Quartey

One thing I learnt in journalism and from my superiors was that readers always want to read about people, especially the famous ones.

I, therefore, found it necessary to always scout for celebrated personalities and those who had achieved excellence in their fields of endeavour.

Thus, I decided to interview Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey, a former WBA World Welterweight champion, who was stripped of his title after he had refused to defend it, citing health reasons.

It was held by some, however, that his reasons were the suspicion of an alleged plot against him by his former handlers.

Later, in 2005, he tried to relaunch his career by inviting an American Welterweight boxer, Clint McNeil, for a fight at the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex, which he won by a knockout.

The Mirror, at the time, found it most opportune to have an interview with Ike, give him the opportunity to tell his story, and showcase him as a Ghanaian sports personality worth celebrating.

One of his media friends was Nathaniel Attoh, now of Multimedia Broadcasting, who was then a national service person with the Graphic Sports.

I contacted Nathaniel to arrange with Ike for an interview for the Personality Profile page.

Nathaniel did the groundwork and informed me later that Ike had agreed to grant The Mirror audience, and had scheduled a date for it.

Visit, Ike’s house

On the scheduled date, he led The Mirror team of ace photographer, Yaa Serwaa Manu of blessed memory, and myself to the Gbawe residence of Ike Bazooka Quartey.

We were ushered in, and after sometime Ike came to meet us. After we had introduced ourselves, he asked how much we were going to pay him for granting us the interview.

I explained to him that we wanted to talk to him because as a role model, his story would motivate the young ones who looked up to him and spur them on to improve their lot.

Despite that explanation, Ike still insisted upon a cash reward because we were going to use him to sell our paper. No matter how arduously we explained and tried to persuade him, he insisted.

After we realised he was not backing down on his demand, we decided to leave. However, he offered to take us on a tour of his gym in his home and his swimming pool on the top floor of the house.

After satisfying our curious eyes we left Ike's Gbawe residence highly disappointed.

George Weah

George Weah is another sports personality The Mirror earmarked for an interview for the Personality Profile page. Currently, George Weah is the President of Liberia.

He is the only African player who had won the FIFA World Player of the Year, as well as the European and African Best Footballer in the same year — 1995.

George Weah once played for AC Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and later AC Milan, for four successive seasons.

George Weah was again instrumental in the reorganisation of the Liberia national team during the post-war era to play in two African Cup of Nations.

In those days, after matches at the Accra Sports Stadium, the adopted home grounds of the Lone Stars, he hosted the teeming Liberian supporters domiciled in Ghana at a post-match jam at the defunct Miracle Mirage at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, with himself behind the consoles.

As a result of these accomplishments, The Mirror — through one of his compatriots, a Liberian photojournalist, Frank Sherrif — arranged for an interview with him.

Sherrif made some headway and assured me of meeting George Weah. However, on one occasion, Sherrif was on the premises of Graphic and he made me speak with George Weah on phone to confirm the interview schedule.

He changed his mind, and like Ike wanted to know what was due him after talking to The Mirror. I convinced him to yield to our request since he had a huge fan base in Ghana and the publication of the interview would give him an inexhaustible mileage.

He then gave me a lecture on what pertained in Europe about stars granting interviews to the media, and said goodbye to me.

I was again disappointed, but later had to console myself that encountering people such as Ike and George Weah were part of the hazards of the job.

The writer is the Night Editor of the Daily Graphic.

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