Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua paid homage to his Yoruba roots when he presented his recently reclaimed IBF, WBA, WBO, and IBO titles to President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday in London.
President Buhari was meeting with a select number of Nigerians in the United Kingdom with Joshua and his parents Robert Joshua and Yeta Odusanya in attendance.
Demonstrating his Yoruba heritage, Joshua prostrated before the Nigerian leader much to the surprise and elation of everybody present with his actions eliciting a stirring round of applause.
Joshua whose Nigerian names are Oluwafemi Olaseni has never hidden his love for and connection with the land of his forebears regularly making the walk to the ring for his bouts to Nigerian music and playing the Nigerian anthem at many of his fights.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the 30-year-old British-born boxer of Nigerian heritage told the President that he is ready to stand up for Nigeria anytime he’s needed to do so.
“The President congratulated the current World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, who was the cynosure of all eyes during the meeting, on regaining his world championship belt, as well as putting Nigeria on the world map again like Hogan Bassey,” the statement added.
Joshua’s meeting with President Buhari comes six weeks after he beat Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr by unanimous decision to reclaim the world heavyweight titles in the first-ever heavyweight championship match in the Middle East.
Ruiz had shocked the world when he knocked out Joshua to claim the belts in their first bout in Madison Square, New York before Joshua reclaimed the titles in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia last December.
In so doing, Joshua became the fourth deposed world heavyweight champion to reclaim his titles in an immediate rematch in the 127-year history of the category out of eleven fighters to have attempted the feat.
The meeting between the President and members of the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom was coordinated by the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Also in attendance were Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, his Trade and Investment counterpart, Adeniyi Adebayo and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Justice Adesola Oguntade, among other dignitaries.