According to Ibrahim Satatima, a former professor in Bayero University Kano, the start of boxing in Nigeria dates back to the early 1940s when Dambe boxing was discovered in kano State, the northern part of Nigeria but professional boxing as we know it today, took flight during the year 1947 with the directives of Billy Moore, a retired boxer, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who directed the affair of boxing during the initial stage of establishment.
Nigerian boxers soon started gaining global recognition and laurels as early as 1950s and also in the 1970’s when Dele Jonathan defeated one of the best world’s champions by name, Scotland’s Jim Watt, for the Commonwealth Lightweight Title.
Boxing did so well in Nigeria during this era, that it could boast of three world champions namely; Dick Tiger – middleweight, 1962-1963, Hogan “Kid” Bassey – featherweight, 1957-1959 and Bash Ali (resident in Massachusetts) – cruiserweight, 1987.
However, there was a significant crumble in boxing as a result of a decline in boxers which wasn’t due to lack of talents, but inadequate infrastructure to train amateur and professional boxers, as well as lack of government and private sector sponsorship.
But a revival began in the early 2000s when the then Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, encouraged a rebirth of amateur boxing through the collaboration of an NGO, Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame with the Lagos Boxing Association.
It didn’t stop there, we started to witness interest from private companies, one of which is GOtv Nigeria who launched the GOtv Boxing Night initiative to contribute to the development of boxing in Nigeria. The GOtv Boxing Night kicked off in November 2014 and have since produced talents like Olaide Fijabi, Otto Joeboy, Rilwan Oladosu, Rilwan ‘Baby Face’ Babatunde, Taiwo ‘Gentle Boy’ Olowu, Sikiru ‘Omo Iya Eleja’ Sogbesan who have become the foundation to professional boxing both locally and internationally.
Asides from the fame that comes with the frequent GOtv Boxing Night events, the best boxer of the night is usually rewarded with a Best Boxer title which is accompanied by a cheque of One Million Naira and a Mojisola Ogunsanya trophy. This amount has changed from time to time as some winners have taken home as much as Three Million Naira. The Best Boxer award prize is named after Moji Ogunsanya, the late wife of Chairman, MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Adewunmi Ogunsanya.
Mr. Jenkins Alumona, Managing Director/CEO of Flykite Productions, promoters of GOtv Boxing Night, speaks on how the GOtv Boxing Night has improved Nigerian Boxing.
“That we are having local and international title fights is indicative of the fact that the growth of the sport, which is the objective of GOtv Boxing Night, is being realized. Over the years, we have produced boxing superstars locally. One of our professional boxers Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde just recently got back from Ukraine where he participated in the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Oriental Middleweight title fight. We are still not where we aim to be, but we have made genuine progress. Amateur boxers are now keener to turn pro because GOtv Boxing Night offers them the platform to get fights on a regular basis, something that was not there before.
“We also just recently launched a state-of-the-art boxing gym courtesy, Chief Adewunmi Ogunsanya (SAN), Chairman of MultiChoice Nigeria and GOtv Boxing, as well as Patron of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C). The gym has been furnished with world-class equipment to help our boxers and sportsmen to train and be at par with their counterparts in other parts of the world” said Alumona.
GOtv Boxing Night has become a household name and has grown to become Africa’s premier boxing show. The boxing event has garnered millions of fans who watch the event on GOtv and DStv.
The 23rd edition of the GOtv Boxing Night is slated for September 11 at the Molade Okoya Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.Copyright © 2021 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.