Former professional heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was in Lagos, Nigeria May 25th for the “Rhumbles in Lagos” boxing bout with the “Jagaban of Africa” Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It was one of the events commemorating the “Lagos @ 50” celebrations and it is aimed at bringing world attention to some health-related issues in Africa, and will focus on cases such as Autism in Children, Breast Cancer, Mental illness, HIV/AIDS, River Blindness, and especially the plight of Africans living with Disabilities etc.
According to the organisers, the event will donate five 40ft. Containers of medical and relief materials worth over $2 million to Lagos State Government and other neighbouring states. Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit not-for-profit organisations and agencies in Lagos, which cater to, and are engaged in research programmes aimed at eradicating these medical conditions.
The cruiserweight and heavyweight undisputed champion, Holyfield was all shades of smiles as the event, which was slated for 5pm, officially kicked of with at 8:21pm with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem performed by Miss Enitan Johnson.
Side events for the day were two amateur bouts, a 48kg female category and a 91kg male category. Both encounters, slated for 3 rounds each, were exceedingly delightful to watch, you could tell as spectators reacted gleefully to each punch thrown or missed.
At the end, the 3-man panel of judges concluded that the contenders at both matches were all winners as it was an exhibition match only.
Amid the side events were alluring performances by a splendid drummer known as Pappy Jay, a reggae/dancehall artiste called Buck Wieler, the adorable “One Sound” live band, while the legendary Femi Kuti capped it all in grand style.
The 54-year-old four time grammy nominee regaled the audience with energetic performances as he dished out some of his customary tracks like “Africa for Africans, Sorry sorry o, dem bobo and a new one he labelled “Stealers not leaders”, where he called out some past leaders in Nigeria like Obasanjo, Babangida, Ibori, Alamieyeseigha etc, asking them to return “our” monies.
Everyone present plunged into ataxia as the king of afro beat also called out the Jagaban, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as one of the leaders turned stealers and he as well should return “our” monies.
The former Lagos state governor was absent on the night which led Prof. Wole Soyinka, the designated centre referee for the fight to disqualify him and cancel the bout. The nobel laureate enjoined the fighters to eschew violence, propagate peace, and continue the good works they have been doing for humanity.
The event came to an end with the president of the NBBofC (Nigeria Boxing Board of Control) Dr. Rafiu Oladipo presenting the state governor, Akinwumi Ambode with a championship belt. Ambode japed about being the champion despite having never landing a punch.
Report by William ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Photo credit: King Solomon Ekhaiyeme