Nigerian amateur boxers say they may dump the amateur ranks under the supervision of the Nigeria Boxing Federation for their professional careers due to poor treatment, as effects of the coronavirus pandemic bite hard on them.
Sports in Nigeria was grounded in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, halting major sporting events around the world including the National Sports Festival in Edo State and preparations for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo which has been postponed to 2021.
Arinze Franklin, who represented Nigeria at the 2019 African Games in Morocco in the 57kg category, described the boxers’ conditions as “appalling”, saying his dream is to turn pro in the United States.
“My dream is to go to the United States and become a professional. That is my long term goal. That is the apex of any boxing career,” Arinze told The PUNCH.
“Nigeria has a lot of talented boxers who will produce results if they invest in us, just like countries are doing.
“You need to understand what boxers face right now. Most boxers make money from competitions and the money most times are peanuts. Right now, boxers are just where they are, no one knows how they’re surviving,” he added.
National boxing captain, Taiwo Abiodun, says his decision to turn pro is due to age and the pandemic.
“I’m thinking about going pro and if COVID-19 takes too long, I might decide to go pro sooner than later.”
However, Imole Adebayo, who also represented Nigeria at the 2019 African Games in Morocco in the Men’s Super Heavyweight +91kg, says he is not thinking of dumping his amateur status, adding that his dream is to win an Olympic gold medal.
“When you represent your country at the Olympics, it means a lot and I’m already looking at my medal. I want to bring the gold to Nigeria,” Adebayo told The PUNCH.
US-based heavyweight boxing sensation, Efe Ajagba, and cruiserweight pugilist, Efetobore Apochie, dumped their amateur status to turn pro in the US in 2017.