8th October, 2010
After ruling Nigeria’s professional boxing world in the Lightweight category, AkeemÂ Akinbode got an invitation from a boxing coach, who saw the prospects in the dark-skinnedÂ boxer to make it big in boxing, but on arriving the United States of America, USA, theÂ story suddenly changed.
Akinbode had left Nigeria with the hope of better life in the USA. He believed thatÂ within a short period of time he would hit the headlines but his dream did not come true.Â He is still struggling to prove his mettle in the world of boxing.
The professional boxer, who is in his 30s and married with kids, had settled down in theÂ USA, began training with a view that he was going to have a fight. Truly he got a fightÂ but a few days to the fight he injured his wrist in training. This forced him to pull outÂ from the fight.
Little did he know that what he described as minor injury would force him out of the ringÂ for a very long time.
He described the wrist injury as a career threatening one, stating â€œwhen I arrived USA,Â everything changed- the weather, the food and the mode of communication, but afterÂ aÂ while I acclimatised. I began training andÂ my trainer was really impressed with myÂ performance. He promised to get me a fight and I was billed to face an American, only forÂ me to suffer an injury days before the fight. It was hellish for me because I was alreadyÂ in high spirits believing I was going to knock out my opponent but it did not come toÂ passâ€.
He opened up on how he was able to revive his career after the injury and how the injuryÂ affected his fight against John Ortega of the USA. He said that when his trainer told himÂ that he had been given another opportunity to step into the ring, he received the newsÂ with great expectations.
Despite the fact that he lost the bout 1-4 the fans praised him for his heroic efforts,Â being the first time he would be fighting after coming out of injury. According to him,Â â€œboxing is give and take, so when I was going to confront Ortega, I told myself thatÂ Akeem, this is a chance for you to show your wealth of experience but I was wrong becauseÂ I was well pummelled. The joy I had on that day was that the fans were always screamingÂ warrior! warrior! warrior! That was enough for meâ€.
His trainer believed in his prowess, so he disclosed and was given another opponent notÂ long after his first loss, this time, his opponent was Frankie Gomez of the USA. He saidÂ that the confidence reposed in him by his trainer spurred him to train hard before theÂ bout with the optimism that he would make up for his first loss but he ended up beingÂ beaten again.
â€œTo be sincere, fights are not easy to come by but my trainer is someone who knows myÂ strength after losing my first fight. He gave me another opportunity. I tried but my bestÂ wasnâ€™t good enough as I lost to Gomez,â€ he said
With the two losses suffered so far in the USA, he reckons that all hope is not lost forÂ him adding, â€œit is not how many times a man falls that matters but it is his ability toÂ stand up, Iâ€™m not finished yet, there is always another dayâ€.
Comparing professional boxing in Nigeria to that ofÂ USA,Â he said there is noÂ comparison, urging the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, NBBof C ,the board in charge ofÂ professional boxing to wake up to their responsibilities by approaching corporate bodiesÂ for sponsorship.
He believes thatÂ boxing shows should be organised every weekend because that is the onlyÂ way they can help the sport grow.