Anthony Joshua And Nigerian Sports Administration
Nigerian born British world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua, achieved 20 knockouts in his 20 professional fights after he defeated Carlos Takam in the 10th round at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.
Thus, the Olympic champion successfully retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association World Heavyweight (WBA) titles.
Takam became Joshua’s 20th consecutive knockout victim in a fourth defence of his IBF belt and first defence of his WBA title. Just like when Joshua defeated former world heavyweight champions, Wladimir Klitschko, for the WBA title, the victory over Takam was celebrated with pomp in Nigeria, especially in Sagamu where the pugilist hails from.
Known as Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, the boxer’s fight against Takam was widely acknowledged as ‘our’ victory, with his immediate family requesting a pay television station to beam the action live at his family hall in the ancient town. According to a report in the media, Joshua’s uncle, Adedamola Joshua, said: “The family has been contacted by Kwese Sport, who broadcasted the first fight.
“This time round we are not making use of the open space near the palace but our ancestral hall. The hall is significant to the Joshua family and that is where the fight will take place,” he said. Also, a high-powered Ogun State delegation, which also had Solomon Dalung, the sports minister, was in Cardiff to witness the fight live.
But beyond the rhetoric and fanfare lies the nation’s insensitivity to sports administration. Yes Anthony Joshua is a full-blooded Nigerian but suffice to say that a different sports federation threw him up with all the necessary facilities and preparations.
Nothing will stop Nigeria from producing an Anthony Joshua with the nation’s teeming population, much of which are youths. Joshua was packaged and adequately prepared to excel in his chosen career by the British authorities on whose name he is fighting.
At the National Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria can boast of some of the best sport facilities but a visit to that gigantic sporting edifice will only reveal the nation’s sorry state of sports development. The question that will readily come to mind is: If Joshua were to have been in Nigeria, could he have attained this height? Obviously, administrative inefficiency coupled with poor attitude to sports development as well as paucity of funds due to corruption would have retarded his development.
Today, Nigerians are celebrating ‘one of their own’, but he was a product of a society where youth empowerment through sport is paramount. At the National Stadium in Lagos, so many gifted boxers and other sportsmen and women are begging for attention even as they have little or no facilities to train.
Joshua’s victories should be a call to responsibilities, for Nigerian sports administrators. With an edifice like the National Stadium in Lagos with all the facilities in good state, there is no way hard-earned monies will be wasted on foreign camping for athletes.