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Countdown to Yaounde 2023: Nigeria back in Africa Boxing Championship as Vice-President Azania Omo-Agege sponsors team

After a six-year hiatus, Nigeria’s national team is back in the Africa Elite Men’s and Women’s Boxing Championships.

National coach Tony Konyegawachie has named eight boxers – five men and three women – for the $1M Africa Championships scheduled for Yaounde, Cameroon from July 25 to August 6.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games middleweight bronze medallist, Jacinta Ifooma and captain, light-welterweight Reilwan Ige, are the only two internationals in the team. The rest will be making their international debut each in Yaounde.

Ige was very impressive in his first outing for the national team during this year’s Men’s World Championships in Uzbekistan capital city, Tashkent where he lost in the round of 32 to Germany’s Devrim Gokduman who competed as a neutral participant owing to the current boxing politics between the International Boxing Association (IBA) and some European countries with Germany backing the newly-formed body, World Boxing.

Among the newcomers are London-based heavyweight Adam Olaitan and super-heavyweight Adedeji Teslem.

Coach Konyegawachie is optimistic the two boxers will do well in Yaounde.

“They’ve just finished their masters degrees in London and are still working there, I have full confidence in them,” said Konyegawachie, the younger brother to London-based Peter Konyegawachie who was Nigeria’s first ever boxer to win Olympic silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

“We’re coming back to conquer and shock the world with my new crop of talented boxers, we’re Nigeria,” boasted Konyegawachie.

Nigeria last took part in the Africa Championships in 2017 in Congo Brazzaville, finishing 12th overall with one silver won by Army Officer Yetunde Ochunugu who lost in the finals to DR Congo’s Marcelat Sarkobi in the lightweight division.

The entire team in 2017 was composed of soldiers from the Nigerian Army which sponsored their boxers to the continental event following the government’s failure to finance the team.

This year is reminiscent of what transpired six years ago with the oil-rich Nigerian government again unable to support the team to Yaounde.

Luckily enough, the Vice-President of AFBC,9 Azania Omo-Agege who holds the same position in the Nigerian federation has bailed out the Yaounde-bound team by catering for all their financial requirements.

“We’re very grateful to Omo-Agege for his patriotic support of our team, he’s a man who loves boxing at heart,” said Konyegawachie.

It will be interesting to see whether Nigeria, once a powerhouse in Africa boxing, will improve on their 2017 performance in Brazzaville.

The Nigerians showed glimpses of their glorious past in last year’s Commonwealth Games in Burmingham, England, placing 10th overall with one silver and three bronze medals.

Silver medallist in female featherweight division Elizabeth Oshoba turned professional in the UK after the Commonwealth Games.

With pro boxers now allowed to feature in amateur tournaments, it’s not immediately known why Oshoba is not included in the Nigerian team for the Yaounde tournament. She would have been an asset in the team.

Several years of neglect by the Nigerian government has discouraged promising Nigerian boxers to represent their country which they’ve accused of giving more prominence to football.

Their first ever world champion Davidson Andeh, who won lightweight gold at the 1978 World Championships, is languishing in poverty. Andeh decided to drown his sorrows by turning over to the bottle, drinking himself silly much to the embarrassment of the establishment.

The full team for Yaounde:

Flyweight Shittu Afolabi, featherweight Dalapo Omole, light-welterweight Reilwan Ige, heavyweight Adam Oloitan and super-heavyweight Adedeji Tesleen.

Flyweight Adeola Oyesuji, welterweight Katie Peter and middleweight Jacinta Ifooma.

Photo: Captain Reilwan Ige (left) and the sponsor of the Nigerian team to the Yaounde tournament, Azania Omo-Agege who is the Vice-President of the Africa Boxing Confederation (AFBC) and Nigerian federation.

Credit: AFBC Communications

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