Larry Ekundayo: The Boxing Champion Too Good For His Own Good
“I didn’t choose boxing because I wanted to be a boxer. I chose boxing because I thought it would help me become someone that no one could mess with.”
As with every other kid, Larry Ekundayo started with football on the dirt pitches of Lagos. That was before he switched to boxing.
Ekundayo as a 12-year-old was a tough kid who thought boxing would bolster his street credibility and make him win every fight that broke out on the street. But his conversion from a belligerent to a boxing champ began when he stepped into the halls of the Asemota Boxing Gym in Ilupeju.
After his introduction to boxing, he understood the sport was entirely different from his pre-conceived thoughts. It was based on the ethos of sacrifice, self-discipline and respect for others. It wasn’t difficult ditching his cynical plans when Coach Daniel Adekunle Fasesa forbade him from getting into a street fight. Ekundayo was in love with the sport already.
It is this love that has seen him scale heights, and battle through stiff opposition in life and in the ring.
Ekundayo had to work extra hard to get opportunities to showcase his talents in the UK because of the rhetoric that he didn’t have enough allure to pull the crowd and sell tickets. Whenever fights came, he always got the short stick of the deals, getting short notice before fights, and fighting boxers above his weight category. The 36-year old was once told he was too good for his own good. He was avoided by fighters, especially after he won the Prizefighter where he defeated three boxers including Craig McEwan in one night to win the tournament.
Ekundayo had to work extra hours as a personal trainer at a gym to support his three kids, but he is now able to fully focus on his boxing with support from sponsors. The UK based pugilist believes he will not be getting any favours as a foreign boxer, and he is actively exploring options to bring a title fight to Nigeria.
After his victory over John Thain to win the IBF ‘European’ Welterweight title, Ekundayo knew he had to bring it back to Nigeria to celebrate with his fans, thank his supporters and inspire other up and coming boxers.
The bullish boxer hopes to leave a legacy for others to follow, hoping more kids are allowed to pick up boxing by their parents.
“Academics is important, education is the best. However, kids have been given natural talents either as a footballer or in music. Boxing is a complete gentleman’s sport and you can do well in life to be a boxer.”
Ekundayo, who represented Nigeria in the Commonwealth games, hopes to fill out stadiums in Nigeria while pounding away, feeding off the energy of the crowd. After climbing each rung steadily to his current rating of 15th in the world, he has his eyes set on the top spot, the World Championship. He knows it requires a lot of work, but he is ready to give it all it takes: training hard, hitting uppercuts, and eating right.