1st August, 2012
Jeremiah Okorodudu, who represented Nigeria in the boxing event of the Los Angeles ’84 Olympic Games, has explained why Nigerian boxers flopped at the ongoing London 2012 Olympic Games.
The former boxing coach said the Nigeria Boxing Federation, NBF, did little or nothing to prepare the three boxers that represented the country in London.
He stated that right from the onset, he knew the boxers would be pummeled because they failed to give them adequate preparation, yet the nation expected the boxers to do well. He said: “I knew that the boxers will not get to close to the medal zone because the boxers were ill prepared.
“Like the saying goes that he who fails to plan will plan to fail, I also sounded a note of warning to the administrators, but they failed to head my advise. See them now, the boxers have failed. So, let’s see what will happen.”
Aside from castigating the administrators for not preparing the boxers adequately, Okorodudu also hit at the coaches, stating that the coaches failed to do their job. The former boxer argued that he would have resigned if he was in their shoes.
On the way forward, he said there is need for the National Sports Commission, NSC to retrace its step by going to the grassroots and ensuring that Nigerian boxers and their coaches are sent on tour of boxing nations and refresher courses, where they can learn about the sport.
In his words “Our boxing coaches are good but they must return to the classroom to refresh their memories. Boxing is developing everyday, that’s why the coaches must always broaden their knowledge. It was evident from the performance of our boxers at the Olympic that they lacked the tactics”.
Okorodudu further bemoaned the state of facilities in the country, stressing that there is no way amateur boxing can develop with the standard of boxing facilities in the country. “There are no boxing facilities in Nigeria, hence there is no way the sport can develop. And, in the long run, our boxers will not be able to compete with their counterparts from other countries”.
In his active days as a boxer, Okorodudu left a mark in Nigeria’s boxing history, which has remained indelible for the past three decades.
Following the path of other famed Nigerian pugilists like the late Hogan Kid Bassey and Dick Tiger Ihetu, Okorodudu was a toast of boxing fans all over the country and Africa.
He first came to national limelight in 1979, when he became a national champion, a position he retained till 1985. Gradually, his natural abilities, coupled with years of hard work, began to yield positive results. In 1982, he fought his way to the semi-final of the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia, where he picked a bronze medal for Nigeria.
More honours followed as he picked a silver medal after narrowly missing the gold at the pre-Olympic Games championship in Germany in 1984. His quarter-final finish at the Los Angeles ’84 Olympics was historic in many ways, because according to him, nobody gave him a chance of qualifying for the Olympics, talk less of getting to the quarter-finals.
Okorodudu was voted Nigeria’s Best Boxer of the Year twice – first in 1984, when the award was presented to him during the pre-Olympic Games in Germany and in 1985, when Gen. Ibrahim Babangida did the presentation. Up till now, his entitlements are yet to be paid to him by the NSC, and Okorodudu is confused over the scenario, saying: “Well, I hope they will pay me someday”.