We should promote Nigerian boxing by hosting international fights, says Ekundayo

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Nigerian-born Larry Ekundayo

• Visits Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame

Larry Ekundayo is among the growing band of Nigerian boxing stars doing great things in pugilism from their United Kingdom base. Like some of his compatriots, including world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, Lawrence Okolie and Segun Ajose, Ekundayo has become a dominant figure in the game such that he is recognized globally as one of the best welterweights currently in the game.

The boxer, who arrived in Lagos last week on a promotional visit, was at the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame gymnasium at in Ikate, Surulere to promote boxing as a career of choice to Nigerian youths.

Speaking at the centre after a light sparring session with 1999 All Africa Games boxing gold medalist, Segun Ajose, Ekundayo noted that Nigeria has the talents to produce many Anthony Joshuas if the private sector aligned with government at all levels to develop the sport from the grassroots

Delighted by the facilities at the Lagos Hall of Fame gymnasium, the African welterweight champion said Nigeria would be boxing’s hub in Africa if more Nigerians established private gymnasiums and made them open for youths interested in boxing to train.He also called on parents to encourage their wards to engage in any sport of their choice, arguing that not all children are intellectually gifted to excel in academics.

Ekundayo also disclosed that investing more in boxing would attract international bouts to the country, which will in turn bring economic sustainability to Nigeria.“I am happy to be here to see what an organisation is doing to promote boxing in Nigeria. If you see youths playing soccer and other sports on the streets, you tend to walk away. But if they are fighting, you stand and watch them… this implies that there is much interest in boxing. So the youths in the streets should be encouraged to channel their talents to boxing,” he said.

Ekundayo revealed that he wanted his last title defence in Lagos to promote Nigerian boxing, regretting, however, that the dream did not materialize. Also speaking at the event, Chairman of the Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame, Olawale Edun commended Ekundayo for visiting the centre, and promised that the gym would continue to groom future boxing for the country.

“Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame’s gym is an NGO open for young boys and girls, who have potential in boxing, to train and hone their skills. We have experienced coaches dedicated to work with them. This is our own contribution to grow the sport,”he added.