The federal government has congratulated Nigerian-born, British boxing professional, Anthony Joshua, who recently defeated Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko to become the unified world boxing heavyweight champion, and promised to invite him to the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday, said the country is proud to be associated with the new boxing world champion, especially as he has always publicly acknowledged his Nigerian heritage despite the fact that he is a UK citizen.
Mohammed quoted Joshua as saying in an interview shortly after becoming world champion: “My heart is in Nigeria, My heart is in Britain. I am a Nigerian man by blood, yes.”
The minister praised Joshua, whose Nigerian name is Oluwafemi, “for his humility, despite his success in boxing, and his undying spirit, coming off the canvas after he was knocked down by Klitschko in the sixth round to win by a Technical Knock Out in the 11th round of their pulsating fight.”
According to Mohammed “the federal government will soon invite the new World Heavyweight Champion to Nigeria, especially as he has said he is looking forward to giving something back to the country.”
There were reports that Anthony Joshua was rejected by the Nigerian boxing federation to be part of the country’s athletes to the 2008 Beijing Olympics before he left and joined the Great Britain contingent, going all the way to win gold in the tournament.
But the chief coach of the Nigerian boxing team in 2008, Obisia Nwakpa, explained that Joshua was not rejected but had arrived late after the team had concluded its trials.