Denver’s very own “Sir” Michael Ditchfield is a talented writer, best-selling author, accomplished speaker, documentarian, super athlete - and most of all a true humanitarian. His journey has been remarkable which makes Mr.Ditchfield one of our most interesting and admirable British transplants.
Mike has a distinguished sports history that started with a professional soccer career at age 15 playing for the Premier League team - the Blackburn Rovers. Mike went on to become the Varsity Men’s Soccer Coach at Penn State University, and a sports motivational speaker - and then he wrote “Coaching Soccer the Progressive Way” with Walter Bahr.
Mike was a field goal kicker for the Denver Broncos, signed up for a while with the United States Football League (USFL), and he was Director of Player Acquisition and Development for the former Denver Avalanche of the Major Indoor Soccer League. All of these physical accomplishments led him to becoming one of the top-rated personal trainers in our city for many years.
Several years ago, something eye-opening caught Ditchfield’s attention, and he had as he refers to “a moment of truth.” After starting a friendship with the late Noel Cunningham, Michael’s life transformed, and he discovered his (and Cunningham’s) passion and mission to help change the lives and destiny of the people in African countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan and Rwanda. After several trips to Africa, Ditchfield thought he’d already seen much of the world, and he can only describe life in these ravaged countries by saying: “You meet the devil in Africa, there has got to be some goodness out there to offset this evil.” Ditchfield knew for sure he couldn’t turn his back on all he’d seen and says that it’s his obligation to help preserve the human dignity of these people who have experienced such atrocities and treacheries. A decent life should be the right of everyone.
Michael is now spending a large portion of his time and energy volunteering on numerous projects in Africa and helping to create awareness about world genocide and hunger. He is also active with different foundations in Africa and donates a percentage of the profits from his restaurant to several of his world humanitarian causes.
Our captivating English charmer, Michael Ditchfield, is a no nonsense guy with a strong ethic about what his responsibility is to some of the most suffering and downtrodden people on this earth. Whether it is building villages for the refugees or helping to educate orphaned children, Michael is proud to be walking in Noel Cunningham’s shadow and says: “I can never fill his shoes, and I am left with the unenviable task of trying to pick up where those steps of unconditional compassion left off.”
How long have you lived in Denver? Since the early 80’s.
Tell us about your childhood growing up in England with your family? I came from a very loving English, education-oriented, sports-minded family. I still visit as often as I can.
What’s the biggest break you’ve ever gotten? Jumping off the airplane in Boston while it was refueling during a layover and deciding to stay in the United States because I loved the country and the people.
What will it take to wipe out world hunger? It will never be wiped out – not in our lifetime.
How are things going to change for you in the next decade? I will be spending more time in Africa.
I understand you are writing a book, what is the title? “Life’s too short for leftovers….”
What is the one thing you would change about the United States? Adopt a little more of the political system as it is in England.
What are your thoughts on marriage? Do you see that in your future? Absolutely! Nothing against the institution. Prior to now I’ve been too busy - and too selfish.
Michael, Noel Cunningham was your best friend/mentor, and you traveled with him to Africa. What is something you learned from this great man? Unconditional compassion and a degree of hope that a difference can be made in the lives of others. Pursuing your beliefs and passions are what eventually leads to change in the world.
What would you like to say to people who only feel they should be supporting causes in their own backyard? Continue to support your causes. People who believe in a moral obligation for the third world will continue to fulfill that obligation. After all it is a big backyard!
You are a partner in Jing Restaurant. How is the restaurant doing? We’re busy and having a great summer! The patio is going strong. We are in our 4th year and things continue to get better.
Then do you see signs that the economy is improving? Yes!
How have you changed in the last 10 years? I’ve gotten a lot wiser, more compassionate and understanding.
What was one of the toughest decisions you’ve ever had to make? Jumping off that plane in Boston and deciding to stay in the States. I left all my family and friends back in England.
What would be a dream come true for you? Seeing more compassion amongst the people in Africa, and people all over the world for Africa. If you have the means, then share it with others who have very little in this world. Especially children. Every child deserves the right to live and be fed and respected as a human being.
What do you look for in a friend? First of all loyalty. They say there are two groups of people: One that you know will be in your wedding - and then the others that are just guests at your wedding.
What do you think is the ultimate act of betrayal? When an individual has premeditated thoughts about hurting others.
What advice do you wish you were given years ago that you would like to give to a young person today? Don’t prove others wrong, instead prove yourself right.
Michael – you have so many wonderful mottos and words of wisdom, what’s another one you can share with us? “I stand for something, or otherwise I’ll fall for anything…”
What have you learned through living your life so far? That there is no separation between mind and body - as Aristotle said. I’ve learned how to give. I can differentiate between entitlement and privilege; and that you don’t have to step on people to get where you want to go.
What should the next President of the United States make as his #1 priority? First of all, learn from the shortcomings of others. If we could only take the politics out of the equation, he should make decisions based in common sense and what’s really tangible.
Do you ever eat junk food, or are you a total health nut? Oh yes! I have a Snickers bar every morning…
What event do you look forward to attending each year? The Denver Kentucky Derby Party for the Sean “Ranch” Lough Foundation, Kempe’s Salt on the Rim, and the Hispanic Chamber events.
What activities do you try to make time for every day? Some form of exercise – tied in with meditation.
Does that help you find balance in life? First you have to realize what balance is for you personally …. I look for equality in my daily life to find my balance.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? As a published author, being invited to the White House by President (Reagan); and of course, being able to help children in Africa.
What do you love most about Denver – and do you ever think about moving? I love the people in Denver; no plans of moving at this time - unless Cape town, South Africa came calling. It’s the most beautiful place in the world!
You have done many incredible things in your life so far, what kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind? To have done what I could with what I had.