- Anthony Joshua and the Nigerian Myth
The emergence of Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua as the WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight champion of the world after defeating his Ukrainian challenger, Wladimir Klitschko, through a technical knockout on Saturday have led to a series of publications as to why the Nigerian-British born was rejected by the Nigerian Boxing Federation in 2008.
While, most Nigerians have condemned the action of the federation, both local and international media like ThisDay, ESPN, Daily Mail, etc have tagged the non-existing trial, rejection.
Anthony Joshua started boxing in 2007, combining boxing training with his bricklaying job. However, in 2008 the now heavyweight champion of the world reached out to the Nigerian Boxing Federation, asking to represent Nigeria in Beijing 2008 Olympic.
In 2008, Anthony Joshua knows he cannot make any Olympic team in the world –that was barely a year after he started boxing training, even nine years later Anthony Joshua is still work in progress and lack footwork and head movement that defines true champions. Perhaps that explained why he didn’t show up for the trial against the likes of Durodola Olanrewaju and Onorede Ohwarieme that represented Nigeria in Beijing 2008.
According to the chief coach of the Nigerian Boxing Federation, Obisia Nwankpa, Anthony Joshua reached out to the association in 2008, and he was invited for trial but came after the national trial had finished.
Even though, he won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic, Tyson Fury and other heavyweight rivals have repeatedly said he was gifted the gold medal because the Olympic was hosted in London and insisted Roberto Cammarelle of Italy beats the world champion in the final.
That was after winning a silver medal at 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan and going through five years world class training in London. Still, his Olympic performance and gold medal has been criticised by experts.
Therefore, Anthony Joshua was not rejected in 2008 by the Nigerian Boxing Federation, neither was he qualified to represent Nigeria in the 2008 Olympic, but rather he was looking for a short-cut to the Olympic without the skillset requires to fight at the Olympic level as at the time.
Nigerians should stop condoning mediocrity and focus on nurturing homegrown talents to compete on the global stage.