11th January, 2013
Gabriel Francis won a gold medal in the boxing event at the 18th Nigerian sports festival, tagged “Eko 2012”. In this interview with Boxing In Focus, the hard puncher spoke about the medal and other issues
You won many laurels last year, what was your secret?
The secret behind my success in the previous year was my training. In fact, it would have been a great disaster if I had not performed excellently last year. I am happy that I was able to show the stuff I was made of to my fans. I worked very hard and I did not joke with my training throughout the year. And I am delighted that I was able to win many laurels last year.
Among the laurels that you won last year, which of them did you cherish most?
My greatest achievement last year was the gold medal that I won at the Eko 2012. It was a national event and it gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent to a wider audience. Besides, the build up to the games was more tedious than the other tourneys that I featured last year. I am happy that I did not disappoint my coach and family at the end of the games. And as a result of my performance at the games, I have been invited to the national camp.
Can you say that Lagos State is the home of amateur boxing in Nigeria having won the highest gold medals back to back at the National Sports Festival?
I don’t think it will be an overstatement for anyone to say that Lagos State is the home of amateur boxing in Nigeria. The fact that Team Lagos have been winning the highest gold medals in the boxing event is an indication that the state is the best in the country. The state won 8 gold medals at the Eko 2012 which was a shade better than the 7 gold medals that they won in Port Harcourt. Apart from this, the majority of the boxers that won medals for other states at the games cut their teeth in Lagos State.
What is your take about the state of amateur boxing in Nigeria?
Amateur boxing is growing in the country though we still have a lot of ground to cover before Nigerian boxers can be at par with their counterparts abroad. Unlike before, boxers in the country now have the opportunity to compete with their counterparts from other countries without even leaving the shores of Nigeria. Some of us that do feature at the annual Lagos Verson Repton Boys Club of London always benefit a lot every time we compete with these British boxers. Apart from this, we also have more amateur boxing tourneys in the country today than recent years.
What is your advice to upcoming boxers in the ountry?
My advice to these young boxers is that they should be focused and know what they are doing. They should study older boxers who are doing fine at the moment and follow in their footsteps.