Former African and Commonwealth light-weight champion, Obisia Nwankpa who was popularly called the ‘Golden Glove’ in his heydays has sensationally declared that most punches that are thrown by boxers during boxing bouts are not ordinary. In this interview, the retired boxer who is now a pastor insisted that most boxers employ spiritual powers to defeat their opponents. He also denied suffering any health complications as a result of boxing.
Your weight has reduced considerably. Is it the effect of boxing during your active years?
At over 70 years now, I am not getting younger. What am I doing with weight? Associated health challenges are setting in. I thank God that He has helped me to train my children and care for my dependents. That I am frail is not quite because the finances are not there. In my active boxing years, I made a good amount of money. I equally lavished it on my health, good things of life and lived well. How many of my mates are alive today? My joy is that God made me utilize the money to pull my family out of abject poverty. I know the level my parents were.
Although you have said your health is not affected by your involvement with active boxing but you must have heard of late Mohammed Ali’s battles with Parkinson disease…
It is not! Well, you should know that most of the blows from opponents are not often ordinary. Most boxers employ metaphysical means to box with. These do have effects on opponents. If your opponent is a Yoruba man, for instance, and believes in ‘Ogun’ or Sango, he may want to apply them. If he is Igbo, and believes in Amadioha, he will apply it. Whatever any boxers believe in, they may fortify themselves with them against their opponents. Even the white boxers frequently do same. They call theirs science. Mohammed Ali did not suffer from ordinary sickness. If it was, it would have been corrected.
Did you apply such mystical powers to defeat your opponents or depended on my raw strength?
Hell no! I believe very much in God. I depended on my raw natural power. No native doctor anywhere in the world can say I ever patronized him or her. God alone fortified and energized me throughout my boxing years, and I never fell victim like my mates.
Do you regret that you could not win the World Boxing Championship?
I don’t, even though I would have loved to. I know how many of my opponents I ‘destroyed’ in the ring during my days and won several laurels, and they never rose again.
Would you say the man who stopped you from winning the WBC title in December 1981, Saoul Mamby used mystical means to defeat you?
Saoul Mamby was not ordinary during that fight. He was not ordinary. I will live to remember that fight. The fight was on 13 December 1981. Whenever 13 of any month comes, especially in December the entire scenario usually returns to mind. I don’t like that number at all. Both of us were managed by the legendary Don King of USA. In that fight, even Mamby confessed when the referee said I performed better. But of three judges, two gave it to him while one gave it to me.
So Mamby used strange powers against you?
Of course! The white people (boxers) don’t call theirs voodoo or juju. They operate beyond our level. They are capable of neutralizing or dispossessing the opponents of the talismanic power they come into the ring with. They are stronger in their science. Anybody that argues that they don’t depend on such means is a big liar. In this regard, they are more spiritually conscious.
Was that your worst fight?
The worst was the guy I met after Mamby. Since then I was no longer myself. The guy was even one of the boys under me. It was worse!
When did you stop active boxing?
I stopped active boxing in 1991.
Which was the fight that brought you to stardom?
It was the national title fight in 1972 with one Anthony Andeh. I had looked to him as an idol. He and his younger brother were noted boxers then but I defeated them. I was selected into the Olympic team of that year. In 1976, I also became an Olympian but the African protest that year against South Africa led to the boycott of the games.
Looking back, how will you describe your days as a boxing legend in Nigeria?
I did not start as a boxer. I started as a footballer. It was one Mr Olutokunbo that spotted me and strongly encouraged me to go into boxing. Looking back, it was God that used him to encourage me because boxing brought me fortune and fame.
How do you see Nigerian boxing now and in future?
The future of boxing in Nigeria is bleak because the game is declining. They can’t even take care of the legends that brought fame to the country. How will they be happy to impart technical skills to the younger generation? There is no encouragement. Today as a boxing consultant, I now charge before I transfer ideas and knowledge. Boxing is unlike football. In boxing, somebody must be available to unlock the innate natural power in the young ones. There is that potential and hidden power. The problem with Nigerian boxing is that we do not catch the budding ones at a younger age. Boxers supposed to be discovered as early as ten and groomed.
Do you think Nigeria will ever produce a WBC again after Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey?
It is still possible. We had a lot of world rated boxers who unfortunately dropped on the way.
Why is it that black people seem to dominate the game of boxing?
Boxing is essentially a reserve of black people! They are better and stronger. Nigerians and Ghanaians are very good at it.
What’s your advice to those who manage boxers in Nigeria?
Administrators are not the problems even though they are financially strapped. In my time, my managers were richer and better motivated. I had many financiers and supporters. Is that the case today? I encourage them to be patient and dedicated.
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