Nigeria’s lone boxer going for jamboree in Rio, says Lasisi
Former African light heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Lasisi, has predicted that Nigeria’s pugilist, Efe Ajagba would only make up the number when hostilities begin in the fast approaching Rio Olympics Games.
Only Ajagba out of 10 Nigerian boxers was able to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, as the rest failed to pick their spots at the International Boxing Association (AIBA) African Olympic qualifier held in Cameroun earlier this year.
But Lasisi told The Guardian yesterday that Ajagba does not have what it takes to win a medal in Rio, adding that the coaches currently training him are only interested in pocketing Team Nigeria’s money in Rio.
“I strongly believe that it will be a complete waste of money on the part of Nigerian government to take our only boxer to this year’s Olympics Games. I don’t see any determination on the part of the boxer, and those training him (coaches) are only interested in what will go into their pockets in Rio. The coaches are a mere shadow of themselves and I am sure it will be a big jamboree for the boxer in Rio,” Lasisi said.
Ajagba won a gold medal for Team Nigeria at the last Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville in the super heavyweight 91+kg category.The Rio Olympics will begin on August 5, and Ajagba is currently training at the National Stadium boxing gym in Lagos, as earlier plan by the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Federation to put him in pre-Olympic boxing tournaments in Cuba, England and Germany hit the rock due to non-release of money by the sports ministry.
Lasisi is of the opinion that the system that produced Ajagba as Nigeria’s lone boxer for the Rio Olympics was not smooth. “As I said, the coaches are not determined. They don’t have what it takes to produce an Olympics medalist and I want to repeat that it will be a disaster for Team Nigeria to take a boxer to Rio.”
However, former Olympian, Jeremiah Okorodudu has a contrary opinion, insisting that Ajagba would surprise the world when boxing event begins in Rio. Speaking with The Guardian at the National Stadium, Lagos yesterday, Okorodudu, who took part in the Los Angeles ’84 Olympics, said: “Ajagba has won three medals for Nigeria in the last few years, and he is capable of springing surprises when he is least expected. I won’t write off the possibility of Ajagba doing Nigeria proud when the boxing event begins in Rio.”
Ajagba, a bronze medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games is under the tutelage of national boxing chief coach Tony Konyegwachie, and his assistants for the Rio Olympics Games. He is at the Lagos camp with two sparring partners, Ramon Razak and Gabriel Francis. It was not clear yesterday if the English coach, Kevin Smith, who accompanied them to the 2012 Olympic Games will join the team in Brazil.
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