John Agyekum Kufuor was born on 8 December 1938 in Kumasi. He was the seventh of 10 children born to Nana Kwadwo Agyekum, head of the Oyoko Royal family of Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, and Nana Ama Dapaah, a Queen mother. He graduated from Prempeh College, Kumasi, in 1958 and enrolled at the Lincoln's Inn, London, and was called to the English Bar in 1961. He was awarded an Honors B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy, politics and economics by Oxford University in 1964.
Kufuor and his wife, Theresa, a nurse, have five children. His leisure time is spent enjoying various sports. He has served as chairman of a championship soccer club. During his high school and university years, he was a champion in the track and field events of shot put and discus.