26th August, 2011
Â Dr. Godwin Kanu, the president of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, NBB of C, just arrived the country from Lusaka, Zambia, where he led other executive members and ring officials of the board to the biennial African Boxing Union Convention. In this interview with Boxing In Focus, he spoke about the recently concluded convention and the state of Nigerian boxing.
Â You just arrived the country from the biennial African Boxing Union Convention in Zambia. What was the convention all about?
Nigeria Boxing Board of Control participated at the convention because the board is affiliated to the African Boxing Union, ABU. The Nigerian delegation to the convention included the executive members and the ring officials of the NBB of C. And the ring officials had the opportunity to attend a two day-seminar in the course of the convention.
What would Nigerian boxing gain from the boardâ€™s participation at the convention?
As I said earlier, the ring officials attended a two day seminar during the convention. The ring officials are the referees, judges, ring doctors, gloves masters and time keepers. These people are very crucial to the success of professional boxing. During the convention, these people had an opportunity to update their knowledge of modern professional boxing which include judging and officiating during professional boxing bouts.
Our ring officials were also elected into the ring official committee and I was elected the executive vice president of ABU. The late president of the NBB of C, Prince Olaide Adeboye, was also one of the vice presidents of ABU.
As the president of the NBB of C, what is your take on the present state of Nigerian boxing?
Professional boxing is, without doubt, thriving in the country. More people are now watching professional boxing bouts unlike before. Then, promoters were not forthcoming due to financial strain and lack of sponsors. But since we came on board we have been trying our best to encourage promoters and the board itself has done series of promotions. You can see that we have achieved a lot in the past few months to promote professional boxing in Nigeria and to keep our boxers busy as well.
What steps are the board taking to tackle dearth of promoters?
Professional boxing depends on promoters. Without promoters nothing much can be achieved. We help them in creating awareness by organising press conferences so that people will know that professional boxing requires promoters and the promoters need money for promotions. We also look for sponsors to promote boxing events when promoters are not forthcoming.
How is the NBB of C under your leadership is making sure Nigeria is well represented at the international stage?
The NBB of C is representing the country by attending various conventions that are organised by international bodies. We also try to make sure our boxers excel in their ratings. Many of our boxers are not going for world titles at the moment. We only have a boxer, Segun Ajose, that is going for the light welterweight world title. He will be fighting in an elimination bout in the United States on 30 September.
Many boxing fans believe the NBB of C needs to canvass for more support from the government for the sport. In what ways do you think the government can lend a helping hand to Nigerian boxng?
Professional boxing does not fall under the purview of the government. For boxing to thrive in the country, there is need for good amateur organisation which is the responsibility of the government. Recently, ABU has been putting together tournaments for amateur boxers on the continent with the aim of encouraging young boxers to become professionals.
I think the government needs to do more in promoting professional boxing in the country. Nigeriaâ€™s performances at the last African and World championships were below par. So I think there is need for government to do more for amateur boxing.
What is the board doing to encourage corporate bodies to invest in Nigerian boxing?
We’ve been approaching them, especially those that have interest in the sport. The media also has a part to play by sensitising the corporate bodies to support professional boxing in the country. The focus of these companies today is only on football which is not supposed to be. Boxing has also brought many laurels into the country.
At least, Nigeria and the whole of Africa can boast of eight world champions in different categories.
What are the plans of the board to immortalise Prince Olaide Adeboye?
Prince Adeboye cannot be forgotten for his contributions to boxing in Nigeria and Africa in general. He had represented the country at the world level as a member of the board of governors. The board has organised a promotion after his burial ceremony to immortalise his good works. We hope to do this yearly. His family has also promised to sponsor a yearly tournament in his honour.