Reigning champions, Anthony Joshua sadly attempted to fight for Nigeria about 10 years ago but failed to make the final team due to some unclear issues.
Former Olympian, Obisia Nwankpa has described Nigerian-born English boxer, Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua’s victory over Wladimir Klitschko in Saturday’s epic battle at Wembley Stadium, London as ‘excellent.’
But Nwankpa is unhappy with the series of attacks by some Nigerians who alleged that he (Obisia) frustrated the boxer from representing Nigeria at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
In what has gone down as an unforgettable night at Wembley Stadium, Joshua retained his IBF world title and added the WBC ‘super’ belt by stopping Klitschko in the 11th round of their heavyweight contest.
Since the victory on Saturday night, many Nigerian boxing fans have resorted to trading blames, pointing accusing fingers at coach Obisia Nwankpa and Samson Aransiola for frustrating Joshua from being one of Team Nigeria’s boxers to Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Nwankpa said: “I was surprised some Nigerians are making such accusation against me. What happened was that Joshua actually contacted us that he wanted to represent Nigeria at Beijing Olympics Games. We agreed that he should come down to Nigeria to join other boxers in our camp so that we could examine him properly. But he refused. And as at that time, we had three good boxers in the heavyweight category, who were doing very well. I doubt if Joshua could have won a medal for Nigeria at that time. So, it is wrong for anyone to say that we frustrated Joshua from representing Nigeria,” Nwankpa stated.
After his failure to make Team Nigeria’s squad to Beijing 2008 Olympics, Joshua was denied another opportunity of representing the country at the London 2012 Olympics.
“I don’t really know what transpired in 2012 because I was not the coach in charge of Team Nigeria’s boxers. But as I pointed out, if Joshua had listened to my advice, perhaps, he would have made the team to Beijing 2008.
“But I want Nigerians to learn some lessons from this. Today, everyone is celebrating Anthony Joshua because he has become a world champion. Nigerians should stop this attitude. We don’t like investing on our children or giving them the support they need to become a successful person in the future. It is not so in other countries,” he stated.