Everyone’s singing the praise of the new British boxing heavyweight champ, British- Nigerian boxer Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua and rightfully so!
Born in Watford to a Nigerian mother and a British father, Anthony with an undaunted passion had always longed to identify and represent his roots, his home country – Nigeria and an opportunity came – Nigeria at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but apperantly Nigeria’s Boxing Federation had dubbed him “an unlikely champ” and his boxing career came to an unceremonious halt before it even started.
Fastforward to April 29 and that story changed; call that the sweet taste of success! Anthony Joshua 27 defeated big time Heavyweight Champ Wladimir Klitschko in London late on Saturday successfully defending his IBF title, while also claiming the WBA ‘super’ belt. Therefore making proud the very country which rejected him as they now claim him as theirs.
Speaking on the overwhelming victory; Jeremiah Okorodudu, a former boxing champion, has revealed how Anthony Joshua, was rejected by Nigerian boxing officials nine years ago.
“Joshua was in Nigeria once to connect with his roots and I think that was in 2007. He wanted a chance to compete for trials ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifiers, but he was denied and not given a chance.
Disappointed, he went back to England to represent Great Britain. He went on to win a gold that could have been a first for Nigeria at the Olympics.
If only they had allowed him to compete for Nigeria, that gold would have been a Nigerian gold and not Great Britain’s.”
Another Nigeria coach at the time, Adegboyega Adeniji-Adele also confirmed the fact that Joshua was at the Nigerian camp.
“Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua is his name and his family come from Ogun state in Nigeria,” he said.
“When he visited, his intention was to represent Nigeria at the Olympics but he was denied in the trials. He had no other option than to go to Britain.
It’s Nigeria’s loss, Britain’s gain. Personally, I feel sad that they let him go and those people should be made to explain why it was impossible to give him a chance.” He said.
Once again, the rhetorical question lingers -What would be Anthony Joshua’s fate if he had been opportuned to represent Nigeria? Would his career see soaring heights or…