Yahu Blackwell: the rise of a boxing icon, entrepreneur & philanthropist

Yah’Kwame Gikuyu Nii Ayi Kushi Amaa Blackwell was born in Ghana in 1986, but was relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., when he was 2 years old. Due to his diligence and dedication, Blackwell carved a chance to leave the tough neighbourhoods where he was nurtured into an international boxing spotlight.

His father, Akwatey Basil Amaa is from the GaDangme ethnic group in Ghana, and his mother is from the Kikuyu Bantu ethnic group, native to central Kenya. He spent most of his childhood years in the gritty metropolis of Baltimore, and shared residence with his mother, until she passed away in 2015.

However, the 37-year old told that he still maintains a healthy relationship with his father who’s still alive, as well as his grandfather, and Samuel Kamitha, his maternal uncle.

Blackwell began boxing at the age of 7, and worked out secretly at the Mack Lewis Boxing Gym in East Baltimore without his mother’s knowledge until he came home as a teenager with a trophy.

Before turning pro, Blackwell worked as a police officer, although with a tirelessly ambition to realise his childhood aim of being a WBC champion. He started to emulate his hero, American boxer Muhammed Ali, and entered the ring after being introduced to the sport by Rodney Kenion, a Baltimore County police officer.

A boxing icon

Blackwell made his professional debut in 2009, but starting out always comes with its own struggle and miscalculations. He lost the match and injured his hand after losing too much weight and becoming critically dehydrated (154 pounds) — an absolute management error.

However, Blackwell would bounce back after recovery, putting on weight to fight in the IBL as a light heavyweight (175 pounds); and fourteen years on since his professional debut, he has made an impressive personal record.

In the International Boxing League currently, Blackwell is 15-0 with twelve knockouts, and has received instruction overtime from Coach Abel Gustavo, Derrick Crisco, Freddie Roach, Roger Mayweather, Roberta Jalnaiz, Daniel Goodin, and Floyd Mayweather Sr.

For the WBC/WBA regional championship, Blackwell is currently ranked first and has an amateur boxing record of 184 welterweight matches that read 156 wins against 28 loss.

In his long career, Blackwell has amassed victories in the WBU Light Heavyweight World Title, the IBU Light Heavyweight World Championship, the WBU Light Heavyweight Americas Championship, the WBC Regional Heavyweight Championship, and the Mexico Heavyweight National Championship.

An entrepreneur

Blackwell understands that athletes have moments when they feel unstoppable and on top of the world, until they eventually lose their best shape and eventually retire.

According to him, he has seen high earning athletes become broke after retirement, an issue he pegged to lack of investments. Therefore, he made the decision to pursue an entrepreneurial career through franchising, among other investments.

He signed a franchise agreement with Rita’s Italian Ice in 2017 using the work principles he acquired during his training. Rita’s Italian Ice shops began to open up all throughout Baltimore City, becoming well-known for selling Italian frozen treats and dominating the frozen treat industry, earning Blackwell the title of being the first boxer in history to own a Rita’s Ice franchise.

He also earned the attention and support of Baltimore’s queen of comedy, Jess Hilarious.

Blackwell disclosed that he founded the business in memory of his mother, who passed away in 2015, when he officially launched the first restaurant at 727 West 40th Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21211, in 2021. Since then, Rita’s has become a pillar of the neighbourhood because of Blackwell’s decision to open its first location in Baltimore’s Rotunda.

Fortune 500

The boxer was identified as a candidate for one of Baltimore’s richest sportsmen and appeared in the 2021 issue of Fortune 500. Blackwell, who has an estimated $10 million in wealth, splits his time between his business endeavours and his fighting career.

The multi-cuisine restaurant owner and real estate investor also holds ownership stakes in Nalley Fresh, Jamba Juice, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and Qdoba Mexican Restaurant.

Crypto boxing

In 2017, he also released “Crypto Boxers, the People’s Champ,” smartphone app. At the time of launching, it was the first and only boxing game using blockchain technology, and it uses digital tokens that are issued by famous boxers.

Joe “Mr. Fair But Firm” Cortez, a hall of famer and renowned referee, was the first celebrity to be announced with his own avatar officiating every bout in the game.

With Ethereum, an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system with smart contract features, Crypto Boxers will use actual boxing professionals as collectible tokens for the virtual combat action.


Blackwell represented the “My Sister Cares Foundation” in Cameroon, an organisation in Africa that provides food, housing, and clothing to orphans. He helped raise $65,000 for the organization to help build a new orphanage and also purchase computers, food, oil, and school materials.

Over the years, Blackwell has also expressed an interest in starting a business in Ghana. He told that he would like to invest in Ghanaian businesses and create jobs for the locals. According to him, he last visited Ghana when he was 15 years old, and the desire has since then rooted.

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on March 10, 2023. Updated with more info on March 11, 2023.


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