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Onoriode ‘Godzilla’ Ehwarieme, a new ‘Mike Tyson’ is born

By Gowon Akpodonor
01 January 2020   |   3:51 am
Before stepping his feet into the ring for the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental heavyweight title fight against Argentine Ariel ‘Chiquito’ Baracamonte in Lagos at the weekend

Onoriode ‘Godzilla’ Ehwarieme crowned champion after beating Argentine Ariel ‘Chiquito’ Baracamonte to the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental heavyweight title at TBS in Lagos<br />Photos: Akin Farinto (GOtv)<br />

Before stepping his feet into the ring for the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental heavyweight title fight against Argentine Ariel ‘Chiquito’ Baracamonte in Lagos at the weekend, Onoriode ‘Godzilla’ Ehwarieme made a call to his father, Pa Gabriel Ehwarieme in Oghara, Delta State, seeking his blessing. The conversation was short.

“Dad, this is the first time I am going to face a foreigner in front of my fellow countrymen and women in Lagos. I need your prayer and moral support.”

In his response, Pa Ehwarieme, a former footballer, said: “We are solidly behind you. I have been praying for days, and I believe that God will grant you the wisdom and strength to conquer your opponent inside the ring tonight.”

The senior Ehwarieme, a retired civil servant revealed to The Guardian just before the commencement of the fight that he fasted and prayed for several days for his son’s victory.

As it turned out, the battle of Tafawa Balewa Square, (TBS) Lagos became one of the easiest fights for Onoriode, who against all expectations secured the title after his combination of vicious blows floored a giant-looking Argentine boxer in the 12-round bout. It took just one minute and 16 seconds, and Ariel ‘Chiquito’ Bracamonte was already crawling on the floor.

The victory at GOtv Boxing Night 20 was the 17th knockout in Ehwarieme’s boxing career.

Ehwarieme, who is 6ft 7/201cm tall, is being tagged as the new ‘Mike Tyson’ by his fans. They believe that the Nigerian has what it takes to rule the world as Tyson did in his active days.

With the WBF Intercontinental heavyweight title now secured, Ehwarieme is looking forward to a bigger challenge early in the year.

He told The Guardian shortly after the victory against Bracamonte that his ambition was to contest for a world title in the United States or in any other country very soon.

“I am looking forward to a bigger challenge very soon, maybe in the next three months,” Ehwarieme stated.

He revealed why he decided to unleash the ‘killer blow’ on his Argentine opponent at the TBS. “I have known Bracamonte as an aggressive and stubborn boxer. He has fought in various categories including the World Boxing Organisation (WBO). His aim was to destabilise me as early as possible. He (Bracamonte) actually torched me in the 12th seconds, and I felt the impact of his blow. But I decided to change my pattern immediately. I realised that it was dangerous staying so close to him. What I did was to stay away and make use of my long-range. I am happy it paid off immediately for me. I thank all my fans who came from far and near to support me,” Ehwarieme stated.

Ehwarieme was born and brought up in Sapele, though he hails from Oghara, headquarters of Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State. He attended Ethiope primary and secondary school in Sapele, where he had his primary and post-elementary education.

He started his boxing career in 2003 following advice he got from one Efe Okitikpe.

For years, Delta State from the South-South of Nigeria has been the dominant state in the nation’s sports, producing great athletes from various fields, including track and field, boxing, tennis, and football.

From the then Mid-Western region in 1963 to Bendel State in 1976, and its creation in 1991, Delta has been the commander-in-chief as far as Nigerian sports is concerned.

Onoriode Ehwarieme, the new ‘Mike Tyson’ began his boxing career in Sapele, an urban city regarded as the Mecca of sports in Nigeria. A majority of Delta athletes are produced in Sapele.

From the likes of Endurance Ojokolo, who ruled the sprint event, both in Nigeria and Africa for many years to Blessing Okagbare the sprint sensation, Divine Oduduru, former Nigerian sprinter, Olusoji Fasuba and Endurance Abinuwa are products of Sapele.

Ehwarieme was among the athletes paraded by Team Delta at Abuja 2004 National Sports Festival, where he won gold medal to propel the state under Governor James Ibori to victory. In 2005, he went to the National championship and also won a gold medal. He won gold medal again at the 2006 edition of the National championship.

“I was invited for under 18 world championship at Morrow in 2006, but we couldn’t attend the competition after getting a visa. “I won gold in 2007 National championship and in 2008, I picked a silver at Namibia to quality for Beijing Olympics,” he stated.

Ehwarieme was part of Team Nigeria to the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games in China, though his effort could not fetch the country a medal. That same year, he went to first the World Cup (boxing) in Moscow, Russia, where he was ranked number eight in the world.

Ehwarieme won the gold medal at the National Championship in 2009, and also participated at the world championship in Milan, Italy (2009).

In 2010, he decided to take his boxing profession abroad with Australia his first destination. “From there, I travel to Indonesia to fight my first professional fight, a four-round bout, which I won. I came back to Nigeria soon after and I fought at the Garden City 2011 National Sports Festival, where I grabbed a bar of silver in boxing. A year later, I fought at the Eko 2012 National Sports Festival in kickboxing and won the gold medal.

“I travelled to Ghana in 2013 to continue my professional boxing career. I had seven knockout victories in Ghana before I returned to Nigeria. I fought professional fights in Nigerian in 2013, and I won them by knockouts,” he stated.

In 2015, Ehwarieme fought in the third edition of the GOtv Boxing Night in Lagos and won by knockout.

Between 2016 and 2017, he travelled to Argentina to fight and had several victories, all knockouts. He came back to Nigeria, and signed with LPMG Boxing. In 2018, Ehwarieme travelled to USA and signed with Don King promoter. “But I had to return to Nigeria after some months because things were not too well. I signed with King Kong Boxing and Al Haymon, then travelled back to the USA in 2019.

Ehwarieme fought in June 2019 but lost, the first defeat he suffered in his professional boxer career.

Before the battle of TBS, which he won on December 28, Ehwarieme had a total of 18 fights, recorded 16 knockouts, one win and one defeat.

Ehwarieme was born into a family of sportsmen in Obromudu, a community in Oghara, Delta State. His father, Pa Gabriel Ehwarieme was a pioneer member of the defunct New Nigeria Bank (NNB Football Club) in Sapele. He played as a defender. That was before NNB was relocated to Benin City in the early 1970s.

His elder brother, Emmanuel, is a police officer, while one of his younger brothers, Innocent, is also a boxer still fighting in the amateur category in Asaba.