Anthony Joshua: Rejected ‘Stone’ has now become the head of a corner!
Sometimes, the greatest thing that will ever happen to some of us is rejection! The reason has been that most times, rejection is simply redirection. When people continually reject you, it is because God is redirecting you. One of the core secrets of great people is in their ability to handle and overcome rejection without harbouring any form of bitterness.
In fact, I have come a long way to realise that great people most of the times are greatly rejected. The Bible captured it sensationally in Psalm 118: 22-23, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the head of a corner. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes”. The Bible says this is the Lord’s doing. In a way, which is beyond human comprehension, God sometimes organises our rejection so that we don’t settle for less, because those that settle for less don’t get the best out of life.
Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of Facemash, which later matured to Facebook, was vigorously rejected by Harvard’s high-ranking professors. Today, Facebook has over one billion users all over the world. Fred Smith’s idea for an overnight delivery of anything anywhere in the USA was rejected by his college Professor and was even given a dismal grade for his initiative. Today FedEx has become the face of ultra- fast delivery everywhere in the world.
Albert Einstein’s law of relativity that heralded the field of Modern Physics was greatly resisted because it looks mystical. Albert Einstein challenged centuries of scientific thought with his controversial Theory of Relativity. Today, Albert has been acclaimed the greatest scientist of the 20th century. The Physics guru silenced his skeptics when he said, “I am thankful of all those who said it couldn’t be done, it is because of them I did it myself”.
William J. H. Boetcker once said, “You can succeed if nobody else believes it, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself”. Life is full of stories of people that were never given the chance to succeed. Some few days ago, the whole world was electrified by the much- awaited epic battle between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at the Wembley Stadium, London. The fight has arguably been dubbed the greatest heavyweight fight ever on British shores and undeniably the most lucrative, probably breaking the pay-per-view record set by Floyd Mayweather Vs Manny Pacquaio in Las Vegas. Joshua boasts of a 100 per cent knockout-to-win ratio (19-0). He is the second British boxer, after James DeGale, to win both a gold medal at the Olympics and a world title by a major professional sanctioning body. He is also the second boxer, after Joe Frazier, to win a world heavyweight title whilst still reigning as Olympic champion at the top weight.
It was a real tug-of-war for the two champions with Joshua knocking down the mighty Klitschko at round five while Klitschko also reciprocated the same gesture and made it even at round Six. As the fight dragged on, it became an even contest till in the 11th round where Joshua knocked Klitschko down twice before the referee stopped the match, maintaining Joshua’s perfect record. The 90,000 fans had the privilege of sharing in an electric feeling unmatched in sport history as they lived every second of a brutal, seesawing, enthralling fight that saw Joshua maintaining his IBF, WBA and IBO belts.
The man that is at the central of celebration today, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, didn’t get there overnight. He suffered bouts of rejection,though the nation’s boxing authorities have denied ever rejecting him. Joshua is a Nigerian-born British boxer whose root is more Nigerian than British. In an unusual twist of fate that is still shredded in dark mysteries, Joshua was denied the platform of representing Nigeria at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London respectively. He eventually won a medal at the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to boxing. At 27, he is indisputably his sport’s most bankable attraction and moves alongside Andy Murray as Britain’s brightest sporting star. They will go toe-to-toe for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, and the Wimbledon champion, a huge boxing fan himself, would have to do something spectacular to hold Joshua at bay.
I was filled with a holy anger when I heard that the government of Ogun State was planning to name a stadium and street after the rising star. Majority leader of the State House of Assembly Yinka Mafe says he would move a motion in the state legislature to have the Sagamu International Stadium renamed Anthony Joshua Stadium, and the popular Cinema Street in Sagamu renamed Anthony Joshua Street. It is not that I feel that the Joshua is undeserving of the honour. It is humanly true that everyone desires to identify with people of prominence. But why do we wait so long to associate with people even when we could have intervened or be part of their success story?
While the Nigerian team struggled to win medals in the 2016 Olympics, many athletes of Nigerian origin were making waves for other countries! People like Femi Ogunode (Qatar), Oluwakemi Adekoya (Bahrain), Ezinne Okparaebo (Norway), Keturah Orji (USA ), Ayomide Folorunso (Italy), Barbara Nwaba (USA), Morolake Akinosun (USA) and Paola Ogechi Egonu (Italy) were virtually all winning medals for their adopted countries.
The country is bleeding seriously because of our insensitivity to latent potentials. Many Nigerian Professors are redesigning education in South Africa. Many of our brilliant doctors, nurses, engineers and professionals have left Nigeria to countries where they are well appreciated. It has been a pitiable trend of neglect and brain drain in all sectors of the economy. Most times, we don’t know what we have until we lose it. The Nigerian government, through the sports ministry, needs to urgently review the degrading and unprofessional handling of countless athletes that have left the country in dejected states.
Where your absence is not felt, then your presence is irrelevant. I am not encouraging Nigerians in any way to leave the country for the sake of money but rather go where the environment is conducive for firing up and nurturing their potentials. Don’t stay where you are being tolerated; God has designed you to be celebrated. Staying where you are not being valued is in a way an indication that you don’t know your value.
Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. Joshua celebrated in the ring with a message that sounded like a recruiting call for all the lost youth he likes to represent: “If you don’t take part, you fail”. Joshua has done it; you can do it also! Don’t ever give in to people’s rejection; hold on tenaciously to your dreams and aspirations. One major prayer that I have for the youths out there is that in the midst of rejections, God will redirect you to your place of destiny fulfillment.