In the face of wrong impressions and askew narratives about Nigeria, it appears that Nigerians in the diaspora, especially in the boxing and kickboxing field are doing more than well in changing the lopsided perspectives about their country.
The achievements of the legendary Samuel Peter appear to have blazed the trail for the massive international success that have come to be associated with other Nigerians in the boxing and kickboxing field especially in the disapora.
In the limelight of the remarkable success of Nigerians in the field of boxing is Israel Adesanya. Adesanya has been regarded as one of the best strikers in the world of mixed martial art. His achievements cannot be overlooked. The Nigerian holds the world title for the UFC Middleweight Champion and has an undefeated record of 20 wins and not even a single loss. He is also said to be the former Glory middleweight contender winner and King in the Ring two-time cruiserweight and heavyweight champion.
UFC boxer, Whittaker, also acknowledges Adesanya achievements in kickboxing. Whittaker, following his recent UFC win, describes his potential fight against Adesanya as a hard fight. In his own words, he opined,
‘He is a tough fight, man. I’m (not) stoked to fight him. He’s a hard fight. He’s so good and he only looked better in his last fight. And the fact he beat me once already.’
‘But I feel like I’ve got a couple of tricks I can roll out. I feel like I can play it differently this time. Honestly, I know he’s trying to do everything else, and good on him to do that. I’m not thinking about him. Maybe me and him shouldn’t think about it just for a little bit. He can go up to light heavy (weight) or heavyweight. Whatever he wants to do, it doesn’t bother me. My plans are Christmas, my baby, and then, hopefully, our timelines line up then.’
Efe Ajagba and Anthony Joshua are also a force to reckon with in the boxing field. The Delta-born Nigerian, Efe, who once sparred for Nigeria at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, is unbeaten in 13 wins and the only opponent to go the distance was Ali Eren Demirezen in July 2017. He is also described as having the fastest win in Boxing History and is tipped to face Tyson Fury in a heavyweight showdown.
Anthony Joshua is, more so, a powerful force in the field of boxing. The British-based Nigerian has been described as one of the most powerful heavyweight punchers. Anthony Joshua, popularly known as AJ, is a two-time unified heavyweight champion having held the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles reportedly since December 2019. In the earlier period of the year, AJ ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight by the Ring Magazine and Transnational Boxing Ranking Boards. To add to his credit is his victory against Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Alexander Povetkin and Andy Ruiz Jnr.
It is thus clear that Nigerians are a people with extraordinary finesse across various endeavors. The success of Nigerian boxers and kickboxers in the disapora like Anthony Joshua, Israel Adesanya and Efe Ajagba is an attestation to this possession of ingenuity, drive, focus and consistency.
There are many more Nigerians in the homeland who have a lot of potentials that have not been harnessed by the National Sports Infrastructure in the country. The Federal State Ministries of Sports must do more outreaches, training, competitions, and events to discover the future Adesanyas and Anthony Joshuas. Renuemeration, motivation, and celebration of our sports legends must not be a one-off it, it must be part of tools of celebrating the Nigerian excellence in all of us, so that young and athletic people can aspire to become sports legends.
Picture Credits: Boxing Scene, Daily Media, The Hindu, The Sun