Thursday, 15 December 2016

We are determined to Revive Nigeria Boxing through Anambra--JAB Leader

Raphael Ikediobi is the Union Leader, Joint Association of Boxers (JAB), a conglomerate of professional boxers and boxing promotions in Nigeria. In this interview with OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU, Ikediobi states the plans his association has to revive boxing in the country, and also, why they are planning to honour Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on 26th December, 2016. Enjoy it!

How is boxing faring in the country?

Boxing, the noble art of self-defense has made a remarkable impact in the sporting circles in Nigeria. The country had produced lots of good pugilists in the last 60 years, culminating in the historic achievement by Asuquo Bassey, otherwise known as Hogan Kid Bassey, who defeated French Algerian, Cherfi Hamai to win the World featherweight title in 1957. Before then, the Calabar-born pugilist had won the British Empire Featherweight Diadem by beating the famous British Boxer Spider Kelly in 1956 at Albert Hall in England.
Those days, Nigeria’s boxing clubs were located in Lafiaji Oko-Awo, Bamgbose, Sheteolu, Tokunbo Street, Ita Faji, Freeman, Isale Gangan, etc., were boxers like speedy Twitch Bonny Ade, Orizz Obilaso, Olu Laguda, Sugar Ray Adigun, Small Montana, Blakie Power, Santos Martins, Roy Jacobs, JFF Dudu, Young Panther, Gilly Joe Osoba Surpriser Akins, Johny Fly, Quitin Pitt, Fatai Orlando Sonibare, Kelvin Odus, Nojeem and Kayin Armah, to mention just a few were trained.
Nigeria had another world crown when Dick Ihetu, known as Dick Tiger won the middleweight title in early 60’s and also, annexed the light Heavy weight crown to become double champion.
With the emergent of new crop of boxers on the fistic scene, the likes of Dele Jonathan, Ngozika Ekewelum, Abraham Tonica, Lat Darassin, Mama Clay, Billy Savage, Siki Panther, Hogan Jimoh, Obisia Nwankpa, Tony Adeh, Sugar Ray Amoo, Hunter Clay, Billy Famous, Eddie Ndukwu, Eddie Murphy, and Sugar Ray Adio.
The game dramatically and abysmally nosedived into its lowest ebb with a set of boxing neophytes taking the stage. We have resolved to go back to the grassroots to re-enact what our forefathers did to promote boxing.

How are you planning to promote boxing especially in Anambra State?

We have met with Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, a man who happens to be the best governor in Nigeria. A man who wants to pay for the future of the people he is governing. When we came, we reminded him the history of boxing in Nigeria and appealed for his support to set boxing free from the moribund to best international practice. 
He welcomed us saying that he wants to use boxing championship bouts to create jobs to the youths, bridge cultural and ethnic differences, and improve people’s lives. The governor promised to mobilize total support/sponsor of corporate Nigerians towards revival of boxing in the country. Also, he said he would develop sustainable programme of the youth boxing tournament (Catch them young/world championship bouts), and to revive the game from the grassroots to reclaim our past glory, as well as to mobilize his associates, friends and notable corporate institutions to join him in the overwhelming actualization of his monumental vision.
This declaration shows clearly the importance and power of boxing in the world.
Unfortunately boxing in the Nigeria polity are yet to be fully diagnosed to grasp the strength inherent in it. According to Gov. Willie Obiano, while addressing our team, sports remain a passion to all Nigerians irrespective of our differences. It has remained one of the most strategic factors fostering the unity of this nation.
Having promised to partner us not minding what it would cost him in time, money, and others, he said he was ready to give tax rebate to supports and sponsors in his state for the well-being of the youths.
That is why we have decided to honour him with grand boxing investiture as Boxing Transformation Icon of our Time (BTIOT), and to empower him as the Chief host of Governor Willie Obiano’s World Boxing Championship Bouts/Investiture to hold on 26th December, 2016.

What is your plan concerning the tournament?

We are in partnership with the best promoters known in boxing circle such as Eze uzu promotions, former WBC Renowned Promoter and Stellaflorence UK base.
Also, we are in partnership with WPBF, WBO, and IBF for four world title fights, two Africa, three national titles, and twenty catch them young bouts. We also have musicians, actors, comedians, in fact, it is going to be a great day. But before then, there will be a referee and judge’s seminar on 23rd December, 2016, and then boxer’s train, round the state to create awareness concerning the championship. On 24th, we will have a weight-in ceremony of the boxers after which press conference follows.
On 25th, our boxers and their train will go to church with the great icon of our time along with all the foreigners, numbering about 60. On 26th, Ekwueme Park, Awka will witness the highest crowd and most memorable ceremony. The campaign continues on 27th January till the end of March 2017. We intend to create an awareness that has not been in placement in Nigeria.
There will be a stone Magazine to herald the achievement of this great icon of our time, Governor Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) for he has done a lot and has more to do. We will contribute to making his continuity a reality.



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