11th March, 2011
No doubt, the rhymes on the lips of both amateur and professional boxers in Nigeria today would be a track from one of the albums of the late Evangelist Sonny Okosun, which goes thus: â€œwhich way Nigeria, which way to go, I love my fatherland..â€ But can these boxers truly profess their loveÂ for a nation that fails to give them support in realising their career dream?
Nigerian boxers have every reason to sing a different tune because the future ofÂ Â their chosen career is at stake now. While their counterparts from other countries especially the West African neighbouring nations usually keep their boxers busy throughout the year with a series of competitions.
In Nigeria here, the boxers are idle because there are no fights to keep them busy.
Nigerian born professional boxers like Australia-based welterweight pugilist, Wale â€œLucky Boyâ€ Omotoso, ranked 13 by the International Boxing Federation, IBF; United States of America-based cruiserweight boxer, Lateef â€œPowerâ€ Kayode 12-0 (11); Canada-based Albert â€œBadboyâ€ Eromosele and a host of others,Â all cut their teeth fighting for Nigeria and after their exodus, it seems the squared rope sport in Nigeria has been consigned into oblivion.
The state of boxing in the country is so bad that some boxers, coaches and administrators, who spoke to Boxing In FocusÂ poured scorns on the concerned authorities for not having the love of the sport at heart.
Some of them, who were around when boxing was at par with football in the early 60s, 70s and 80sÂ believe the sportÂ needs an urgent revival.
Former Olympiad, Jeremiah Okorodudu, who took a swipe at the administrators for mismanaging the sport, which brought Nigeriaâ€™s name on the world map recounted how they used to train at the gym inside the Mobolaji Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos Nigeria. But the stadium is now a shadow of itself. The boxing gym lay fallowÂ and there are no activity going on there.
He lamented that theÂ rot in the sport is so bad that Nigerian amateur boxers can no longer hold their own in international competitions. This isÂ an indication that something drastic has to be done to salvage the sport.
To Emmanuel Offiong, a Middleweight boxer from Akwa Ibom State-born, the sport can still be rescued from the claws of greedy administrators, who are hell-bent on killing the game.
Offiong argued that there is no way young boxers can be discovered in the country considering the deteriorating state of facilities.
He urged that the National Sports Commission, NSC, corporate bodies and those that have the interest of the sport at heart to come out and save the game from untimely death.