ANTHONY JOSHUA: MUCH ADO ABOUT A POSSIBLE HERO WELCOME.
The most common name on the lip of every Nigerian is that of ANTHONY OLUWAFEMI OLASENI JOSHUA and the reasons are not far fetched, on Saturday, April 29th 2017, He recorded a 11th round stoppage against former World heavyweight Champion, Wladimir Klitschko.
Joshua added the WBA and the WBO belts to his IBF heavyweight title and further improved his record as a professional boxer to 19-0.
There have been calls from top Government officials for Anthony Joshua to be given a hero’s welcome in Nigeria, given that he is of Nigerian origin, sagamu in Ogun state to be precise.
The idea is not entirely bad, but that would have been more proper for an athlete that was trained and sponsored by the Nigerian Government or the Nigerian sports ministry.
WHERE WE GOT IT WRONG
Anthony Joshua is one of those good Nigerian athletes that we have lost to foreign countries due to poor facilities, poor training condition, and lack of foresight from our sports trainers to identify potential that could be unleashed.
The inability of Nigerian sports officials, those involved in the world of boxing, to spot, and nurture someone with a great potential like Anthony Joshua is one of the many reasons Joshua represents Great Britain and not Nigeria.
Joshua was not selected to represent Nigeria some years back as a young boxer and others that were reportedly better made the list, an action that led to his decision to abandon Nigeria for Great Britain.
NO NEED FOR A BIG HOMECOMING
There is no need for a hero’s welcome on the part of the Nigerian Government for Anthony Joshua as it would involve spending money for his logistics in a period where the country Is in recession and his coming to Nigeria would not have a direct impact on the economy.
Also, Indivuals that would be involved in the logistics of bringing Joshua down to Nigeria could pad up the total amount spent in giving the heavyweight champ a hero’s welcome for their personal benefits.
HOW TO TAP INTO THE ANTHONY JOSHUA SUCCESS STORY:
(A) let’s have a long term plan
(B) let’s take a cue from Great Britain
I would like to advocate for a private sector initiative on the Anthony Joshua issue. It would be a great idea for an oil company or a telecommunications giant in Nigeria to tap into the Anthony Joshua success story, by sealing a partnership with the Briton for the development of young boxers in Nigeria.
This initiative should target young Nigerian boxers between the ages of 15-20 for example who would be tutored, mentored and coached by Anthony Joshua and his team in Nigeria, with the aim of becoming full blown professionals like the Briton himself, this leads to provision of jobs and source of genuine income for some.
Anthony Joshua has become a big brand name that everyone would be proud to associate with, this kind of initiative would attract sponsors and it would have a direct positive impact on the Nigerian economy.
Taking a cue from Great Britain, there was a time British boxers were not the dominant forces in boxing.
Fastforward to 2017, and British Boxers dominate Boxing in the middleweight and heavyweight category, how did they get there?
Proper structuring and adequate funding of sports with provision of good facilities and good training environment for boxers.
In conclusion, I would like to urge us as a country to forget about the idea of a homecoming for Joshua which would be more about fanfare, celebrations making merry and drinking which would only lead to wasteful spending, and look into resourceful ideas on how to tap into the Anthony Joshua success story, and revive boxing as a sports in Nigeria just as the British have done.