25th November, 2011
Bash Ali, the current World Boxing Federation, WBF, cruiserweight, in this interview with Boxing In Focus, spoke about his career and his quest to become the oldest world champion.Â Â
You left the shores of this country for the US on a wrestling scholarship but came back a boxing champion. How did you get into boxing?
It was purely coincidental because I started out as a wrestler in Nigeria. I left Nigeria in September 1974Â for a wrestling scholarship in America. But when I got to the US I discovered that wrestlers over there were very big.
One day when I was looking for an employment, I saw this big picture of Muhammad Ali on a building. Out of curiosity, I entered the building and I found two boxing rings and two boxers sparring. I was so excited watching these people and began to wonder how it would be possible to become a world champion.
One of the trainers, the late Mr. Douglas came to me and asked me if I wanted to do it and I said why not. He asked me if I had ever boxed before but I lied to him that I was an African champion. HeÂ told me to come the following morning and the rest is now history. I had my first fight in September 1978 and since then I have not looked back.
You have won many titles in the course of your boxing career. What is your secret?
Hard work and self belief. I believe in myself and I always see myself as the best. I am the only boxer in the world that has won every cruiserweight title conceivable. I have done so good because I donâ€™t indulge in any form of vices. I donâ€™t drink. I donâ€™t smoke,Â I donâ€™t womanise and I donâ€™t use drugs. That is why I am still fighting at my age. I intend to move into politics after my boxing career. All my fans know that my ultimate goal is to become the president of this country.
Can you mention one memorable event in your career?
I will never forget my fight with Rubin Williams in 1983. I was so confident because I was fighting a guy that could not punch. I won the first round in the ten-round bout and I was so happy. But the guy gave me a punch in the second round and my jaw was fractured. I thought I was going to die but I kept on fighting. I was lucky to win the fight at the end. I went for surgery after the fight. It was a fight I will never forget.
What is your take about professional boxing in Nigeria?
Professional boxing died long time ago in Nigeria butÂ I cameÂ here to revive it. That is why I always refer to myself as the â€˜ressurectorâ€™ of Nigerian boxing.
It is noteworthy that nobody is talking about boxing in Nigeria because I have not fought since 2004. I have always said that every Nigerian boxer is a potential champion. The reason is that we work and train very hard under strenuous conditions and we take our profession very seriously. But the irony of it is that there is no avenue for the boxers to exhibit their talents because there are no promoters to organise fights.
Boxers in other countries that fight regularly will think they are themselves better than us.Â They are not as good as we are. We need promoters that will help our boxers to develop from being ordinary boxers to contenders and from being contenders to becoming world champions. But the fact is that you will never become a world champion if you do not have anÂ opportunity to fight.
Why is your next fight important?
This fight is very important because it’s a fight that will make the Guinness Book of Record. On 9 November, 2006, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated a nine-man committee through the then National Sports Commission. He said we should seek for support for the fight in the country. But the fight did not hold becauseÂ corruption has eaten deep into our system.
I went to the Ministry of Niger Delta and it was also the same story. That was why I went to Libya to see the late Muammar Ghaddafi. I had ten minutes conversation with him and he agreed to hold the fight in Libya. Unfortunately, trouble started in Libya the following day and that was why I left the country.
The struggle to stage the fight is still very much on. Presidenr Goodluck Jonathan is aware ofÂ my quest to stage this fight in Nigeria. He has written to me to aknowledge his support, but some of his aides are hell bent of seeing that this dream does not come to reality and I want to say that I’m ready to fight them because I knw that what I’m doing is very right and good for this country. Nigeria stands to gain a lot if this fight is stage in the country.
What is your advice to upcoming boxers?
My advice to them is that they should make sure they go to school. Nobody can take away from you the knowledge that you have garnered in school. As a world champion, another boxer can beat you and take your title from you but no one can take your knowledge from you.