Sonny and Barry

Da Ole Sports Emperor Barry Maughan, who had a royal reign on our Voice of America airwaves before retiring in 1999, recently returned to our VOA studios here in Washington, D.C. Da Emperor describes himself as “a mountain man now.” He and his wife, Suzanne, are living in the mountains of western North Carolina, after more than a decade on the road with “the Emperor’s entourage.”

Da Emperor loves Vegemite on toast

While Vegemite remains a staple of Barry’s diet, he credits regular gym workouts with helping him lose 20 pounds and he says at 70, he feels great and he still has a great love of African sports.

Da Ole Sports Emperor says he’s closely following the action at the 28th Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Barry says the absence of such traditional African football powers as Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and three-time defending champion Egypt is “great for African soccer.”

He says the performance of co-hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, which both have reached the Nations Cup quarterfinals, is proof that some of “the minnows in African football” have improved and the overall quality of African soccer is on the rise.

VOA listener Joshua Zenith called on Barry to predict the winner of this year’s Nations Cup competition, which ends February 12 in Libreville, Gabon. Da Ole Sports Emperor says he’s tipping Ghana to lift the Cup for the first time in 30 years.