By Lanre Olabisi, Ibadan
Legendary promoter, Francis Aiyegbeni’s boxing memorial tournament, tagged “Night of Fury”, slated for Wallan Hotel, Ring Road, Ibadan on the 26th December will literally set the ancient city on fire as boxing skills will be put on full display.
Competing for honours in the tournament that will feature a female bout and seven male bouts are boxers like Akeem Sodiq “Dodo”, Rilwan “Rotor”, Ifeoma Anthony, a soldier serving with the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army as well as Adedeji Funke of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
It promises to be a grand event with the main bout between Dodo and Rotor. Famed musician, Wale Thompson, will also be on the bandstand. The event starts by 5pm and after the main bout while the musician will entertain till dawn.
While assuring boxing lovers of a good time, Baron Akintunde, the chairman of the Oyo State Amateur Boxing Association (OSABA), confirmed that the tournament was a “good way of celebrating Chief Francis Aiyegbeni as well as a way to bring boxing up to a desirable level”. He noted that the sport has been in the doldrums since Chief Aiyegbeni quit the stage.
Edna Bola Aiyegbeni, the daughter of the late boxing promoter thanked the Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barrister Abayomi Oke, for the support he has given, as well as the promise to build boxing gyms in all the Senatorial Districts in the state.
In his speech, Honourable Gbenga Opaleye, who is a member of OSABA, described boxing as one of Nigeria’s major sports.
“Unlike most of our politicians who empower their constituents with motorcycles and stuffs like that, I empower youths with boxing. Boxing is entertainment and if you empower one boxer, you will take many people away from the streets,” he said.
While assuring that boxers are disciplined people who don’t fight anyhow, Opaleye urged the government to invest in boxing as a way of taking touts away from the streets. He also spoke on the organization’s readiness to partner with the Oyo State Amateur Boxing Association as he pointed out that plans are underway to organize at least one amateur bout in a month and a professional bout per quarter from January.
While speaking to newsmen, Ifeoma Anthony, who won laurels at the recently held Army Games bemoaned the low level of boxing in Oyo State. He also called on the Oyo State Government to look into the situation and help boxers. “We need help from Oyo State Government for boxers. People feel boxing is a dangerous but to me it is nice. It is the king of sports”, she said.
Corroborating Anthony, Sodiq Dodo said “boxers in Oyo State are poor. We have boxers here, solid ones but Baba Aiyegbeni was the only one promoting boxing.