At the helm of gaining independence, Nigeria was in the forefront of economic and political stability. Things looked promising in the sport of Boxing, having produced two commonwealth boxing champions: Dick Tiger and Hogan Bassey; both undisputed world champions, Tiger at middle and light heavyweight, and Bassey at featherweight. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, Bassey and Tiger are among the hundreds of Nigerian born boxers who made their names in the boxing halls and arenas of the British Isles. However, sporting policy of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s slowed down a bit of the progress made, discouraging amateur fighters from entering the professional ranks, which would have made a big impact, had amateur boxers been allowed to turn professional at an earlier age.
Regardless, Nigeria boxing prowess continued to be felt around the world, with several up and coming boxers making inroads into the boxing world like Dele Jonathan who defeated future world champion Jim Watt of Scotland for the commonwealth lightweight title in the middle 1970’s and Henry Akinwande and Herbie Hide who both have held WBO heavyweight title.
Ibeabuchi nicknamed “the President”, defeated Chris Byrd, a world champion in five rounds and in twelve rounds defeated the intimidating David Tua in a highly exciting match which had the record number of punches thrown.
Over the years, Nigeria continued to produce very talented boxers such as Ahmed Sadiq, Akinyemi Laleye, David Defiagbon and Gbenga Oloukun, to name a few, who were heavyweights, cruiserweights, flyweights and featherweights.
Nigerian boxers have held their own in international boxing competition and this success can be attributed to the role that indigenous boxing (dambe) and wrestling played in the culture of Nigeria. Dambe is a rugged and striking sport that utilizes fists, feet, and head. Sometimes, a glove is dipped in ground glass and dampen karfe.
Today, Boxing has become very popular in Nigeria even competing with other popular sports like football. The Nigerian Boxing Federation is charged with overseeing boxing in Nigeria and other organizations that promote boxing include the Nigerian Amateur Boxing Association (NABA) and the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control. All these bodies are seriously working on early talent acquisition, nurturing and promoting young Nigerian boxers to the spotlight.