A country of over 180 million people widely engaged in sports, but still grappling to exert elongated global dominance in one sport disturbs even the mind of a newborn.
In boxing, Nigerians have over the years celebrated a few who’ve pressed on against the odds to achieve fame while in the process ensure the green and white flag of Nigeria is hoisted whenever they step into the ring.
Dick Tiger, Henry Akinwade, Hogan Bassey, Ike Ibeabuchi, and recently Samuel Peter – recognized as the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion of the world from March 8, 2008 – October 11, 2008. There are others worthy of special mention, but their tales might envelope the future about to be unraveled in this article. Speaking of the future, there might be reasons to birth optimism of once again having pugilist(s) from this part of Africa emerge as heavyweight champion of the world.
Speaking of the future, there might be reasons to birth optimism of once again having pugilist(s) from this part of Africa emerge as heavyweight champion of the world.
On July 26, 2017, that project took off as Efetobor Apochi and Efe Ajagba joined boxing promoting outfit Ringstar Sports. Even more remarkable was having both fighters activate their professional careers in the United States with victories albeit as undercards on the Premier Boxing Champions event headlined by Victor Ortiz & Saul Corral at Rabobank Theater in Bakersfield, California.
Apochi defeated Daniel Mejia in the third round, while Ajagba rained hell on Tyrell Hendron in their heavyweight clash by way of knockout.
“We couldn’t be more excited to add these two outstanding young men to the growing Ringstar roster of fighters. These are two of the biggest hitters I’ve seen and we expect them to rise quickly and make a name for themselves in their respective divisions.” Richard Schaefer, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports
The fighters have moved to Houston to work with renowned trainer Ronnie Shields and they’d be managed by Hall of Famer Shelly Finkel.
Efe Ajagba: The 23-year-old pugilist was born and raised in Ughelli Delta State, Nigeria. He took to boxing in 2011 and was selected to compete in the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow and went home with the bronze medal – accompanied by gold in the 2015 All African Games in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.
In 2016, he went on to win gold at the African Olympic Qualification event in Yaounde, Cameroon which ensured participation with Team Nigeria’s 2016 Olympic team. At the games, he lost in the quarterfinals but left a mark with a sensational knockout in his opening bout against Trinidad and Tobago. The fighter known as “King Kong” also won an African games gold medal during his impressive amateur career which records 41-2 (30 KOs).
Efetobor “Orogun” Apochi: The 29-year-old also hails from Delta State, Nigeria. He began his boxing career in 2007, and went on to record an impressive record of 55-6 (54 KOs). Apochi won a silver medal at the 2011 Africa Games – represented Nigeria at the 2013 World Championships before earning a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2014 (a tournament he served as captain of the Nigerian boxing contingent). He was more dominant at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville which earned him a silver medal.
As I am excited in their prospects, I remain mild in expectations as the Efe’s march to eminence begins.