Boxing Hall of Fame

June 16 13:34 2016 Print This Article

 

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Femi Babafemi

Boxing as a sport has brought Nigeria much glory, considering the heroics of the late Hogan ’Kid’ Bassey and Dick Tiger in the late 1950s and early 1960s (see boxes below). But lately the sport seems to have lost its pride of place. However, the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame was established at Olatilewa Street in Surulere to restore the sport to its rightful position.

Sometime in 2009, the late Honourable Commissioner for Youths and Sports in Lagos State, Prince Ademola Adeniyi Adele thought it right to give boxing a rebirth in the state because the sport had

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completely gone down. The idea also was that upcoming youths need to be engaged actively in order to deter them from hooliganism.

Prince Adele, himself an ardent boxing fan, approached Coach Femi Babafemi to assist him in his vision, which led to a meeting with the former Honourable Commissioner of Finance in Lagos State, Mr Olawale Edun.

In 2010, Coach Femi was prompted to attend the Repton Boxing Fiesta in the UK together with the Honourable Edun. A subsequent visit to The Real Fight Club in London was an eye-opener and a prelude to the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame in Surulere.

Why Surulere? Because it is centrally located and because it hosts the National Stadium, along with other boxing clubs, for instance the popular Ijesha Boxing Club, under the terraces of the National Stadium. It is also no accident that Surulere boasts Hogan Bassey Crescent, infusing Sports City with the spirit of the late, great pugilist.

It is on record that the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame is the first private boxing gym not only in Lagos but Nigeria. It has camping facilities with a room at N1,000 per day, and an individual training fee of N500 per day or N5,000 per month.. It is of international standard.

The Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame hosted the national boxing team to the All-Africa Games in Congo in September last year. Also last November, Durodola Olanrewaju became the World Boxing Council silver cruiserweight champion.

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The Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame has also teamed up with GOtv in the search for the next generation of boxers. It held its first event between 17 and 19 February this year,. According to Jenkins Alumona, CEO of Flykite Sports, the promoters of Gotv Boxing Night, ’We are calling on professional boxers as well as amateurs ready to turn professional from every part of the country to come and show what they can do. GOtv Boxing NextGen Search is part of the ongoing plan to revive boxing by widening the access to GOtv Boxing Night, which is broadcast in 47 African countries by SuperSport.’

The Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame has evolved a ’catch-them-young’ policy for youths between the ages of 12 and 15. Weekend boxing bouts are being organised. To this end, officials have been visiting schools in Surulere to sensitise parents on the need for their wards to embrace the sport. As an incentive, free medical tests are available for every pupil. This is all part of a five-year programme geared at producing world boxing champions fully bred in Surulere.

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Ayo Olanipekun, a long-time resident of Surulere, is a seasoned sports reporter

 

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