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Our bodies, our assets

In a society like ours, where lack of discipline, spoils of wealth and down right insouciance has made many Nigerian men bulb-like and completely out of shape, sexy bodies like that of Boma, Kelvin and Otu are like fresh water springs.

We went the extra mile to get these guys together – to show what the real alpha male should look like; the perfect male figure. Enjoy!

By Jemi EKUNKUNBOR

My body gets me things
easily — Boma Akpore

Boma Akpore is one of the hottest models on the Nigerian runway. For his looks and body, he is in high demand by fashion houses. He has strutted his stuff in Nigeria and other fashion capitals of the world. An only child, the 300 Level student of the University of Lagos, in this chat, talks about his body that not only get him things with ease but also magnets the girls!

How did you get into modelling?

My first job was with MTN Y’ello campaign. Well, I’ve always been a stylish person. I didn’t set out to be a model. I was a footballer. But one day, I was walking down the road and the elder brother of a friend saw me and invited me to come for an audition that was on going.

When I got there and the lady in charge saw me, she said: “This is the guy we would use.” I never thought I could be a model because when I go through magazines and I see some models, I’m like why are these people models? I thought models were supposed to be like angels; perfect people – because there are some models that are not really good looking.

But I found out that such models have other assets which we didn’t see except one is a professional. So for that reason, I really didn’t like modelling. I wanted to continue with my football or be an engineer because I was an above average student. So that man convinced me and I started catwalk classes at Apple House. At that time, I was the youngest model to do Nigeria Fashion Show. So, because I am a stylish person, I used to do all kinds of things to my hair – weave it, braid it and it got me noticed and my first job was with MTN Y’ello campaign.

So, how has modelling been for you?

It’s been great. I’ve been to the USA and the UK, representing West Africa. On both occasions, I was the only African invited. I’ve done close to 90 jobs. This year alone, I’ve done about 24 jobs. Last year, I was Fashion Male Model by Nigeria Model Achievers Award. For the last five years, I’ve been on the runway more than any other model.

Are there challenges?

Yes, sometimes you really don’t get paid when you expect to be paid. Right now, as a student of the University of Lagos, I have about six bill boards with my face on them in that school. People don’t expect that you would have that and then be trekking. They think you should drive the most expensive car. They don’t understand that the money doesn’t come early. Sometimes, it takes 3-6 months after the job is done to get paid. I have to go around with cabs and that is expensive.

I have other bills to pay. I’m lucky though that I get jobs because there are models that don’t get jobs at all. My challenge is how to get my money on time so that I can take care of my needs.

So, at what point in your career did you think you should build your body and how long did it take you to build it?

I’ve always worked out. You know footballers are fit people. I was captain of my team at St Gregory’s College, Lagos, so we usually did the sit ups and the squatting. So, I was like a ready-made model just waiting to have the experience. You don’t necessarily have to be a model to take care of your body. Most times, it gives you this edge because when you are young and good looking, it paves way for you to do other things, especially if you don’t want to be a career person sitting in the office. Take D-banj or P-Square for example, they work on their bodies and it helps them. Building the body is a gradual process. I don’t advise people to take drugs to build their body. It has its side effects but when you go to the gym at least three times a week and watch your diet, that is good enough. But there are times I go every day of the week. If you work out consecutively for about 3-4 months, your body will change. Then, it gets to a time that even when you don’t work out, it’s there, it settles.

What do the girls say?

Well, it has got me things easily. Sometimes, I go for an audition where they are looking for a corporate-looking guy but because I have this body, I just seem to have an edge over other models.

Then, sometimes, the girls will come and it will be a distraction because there is a way this body magnets the girls. I don’t like going to the beach because whenever I go, there is always a problem. Some girls come up to tell me that they wish I was their boyfriend. Some even say it in front of their boyfriends and ask why he can’t be like me. But, the issue really is that a lot of people are not healthy. They don’t jog; there’s so much fat in them. They just wake up and eat everyday, no exercise.

Are there challenges?

Yes. There are times when I do 660 sit ups which is not really easy. There are times you won’t be able to smile because of the stomach pain.

But, when the girls come you forget?

Yes, not just the girls but the jobs because this body has gotten me many jobs.

Have there been times when you wish you don’t have this body?

No, never. In fact, I wrote on my Facebook status that I wish I can have this body forever and a lot of people commented that I am vain. Well, if there is anything I don’t wasn’t to lose, it’s my body. When I went to the USA, the first job I did, I wore a gym pant. That earned me six other jobs. When I was in London, all the jobs I did were because of my body. I had to take off my shirt. I did five jobs in seven weeks. So, the combination of my body, my hair and look paves way for me. Because, most other models have long dreads. Mine is in between.

What do you want to say to your body?

I want to thank God for giving me the strength to work out and the knowledge to know that I can use my body in a positive way; to help myself rather than being at the computer and becoming a Yahoo boy (fraudster).

Designers always want me for my body
— Otu Ukpanah

Otu Ukpanah is one of the renowned models around. There is hardly a show worth mentioning that he has not participated in. He has his well-toned body to thank for that. A product of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Otu who got into modelling 12 years ago, was named Model of the Year 2008 by Mode magazine. He is clearly set apart by his 10 years and six months old dread locks that cascades down to his shoulders.

How has modelling been for you?

Having been in the modelling industry for 12 years now, I was generally thinking modelling is going to grow because people generally refer to it as “a green industry”. But as it is, it looks like the industry is either stagnant or degenerating. There are no jobs; sometimes, for a whole year, you do just one fashion show.

For advertising, these days, you find agencies using animation instead of models. With that kind of situation, how would the industry grow? This is a cause of worry for me. At first, I used to find modelling interesting but not anymore because nobody in this country can really survive on modelling alone. I’m not saying this to discourage those who want to come in. Things may change; it may not be in my time but I will support anyone who wants to come in.

So, what do you do on the side, when jobs are not coming?

I am a young man. I don’t want to die young. So, for me to survive, I have a couple of things I’m doing. I am a life style consultant. I’m also an instructor on aerobics. Another thing I do is buying and restoring classic cars. At the moment, I am working on a project, a dating site that will be launched sometime in December.

You have two things that set you apart as a model, your hair and your well-toned body. How did that happen?

About the hair, I wanted to carve a niche for myself and be different from the rest. I’ve had it now for 10 years and six months. At first, it was a problem because it restricted me in terms of the kinds of job I could do.

When I started modelling, I did so many corporate jobs. For two years from 1998, I was doing a lot of corporate shoot for calendars and all that. But, when I started growing the hair, it restricted me to fashion. I couldn’t do bank commercials because advertising companies didn’t perceive a man with dread lock as corporate looking enough. But things have changed. I can pack my hair nicely or braid it and wear a suit.

As for my body, it restricted me more or less to a fashion model. So, I needed to see what the fashion designers wanted and I found out that it is my body that the designers wanted; that is why I always say that my body is my greatest asset. Everything in life has its reward. My body has rewarded me.

How long did it take to build this body?

I started having the definition within two weeks of working out. I didn’t just build my body because of modelling. I’m a sailor by profession. While I was at sea, when I’m not working, I found working a useful tool to keep my mind busy because at sea, all you see is the ocean. I needed something to pass the time so that I don’t go crazy. So, that was how I built the body before I went into modelling.

But you enhanced it?

Yes, occasionally. Like I told you, I’m a gym instructor. I help people who want to lose weight. So, that keeps me going and I’ve had this body for 18 years.

What do the girls say about this body?

Some come and just want to feel the muscle. Some come and say things like, “This muscle will break a woman’s back”. It’s exciting and fun when people appreciate you. It is the same way we look at somebody like Beyonce or Alicia Keys or Rihana and say, “Wow, lovely body, beautiful curve.” It’s the same thing with the women.

A man should have a body his girlfriend can
show off — Kelvin

Standing at an impressive 6ft 4 inches, Kelvin Godson, as he is fondly called by friends, has a body to die for; one that makes other men green with envy and the girls come calling uninvited! Born Mathias Kelechi Effange, Kelvin made his debut in the modelling industry in 2006 and has been lucky to hit plum jobs. A Business Administration student of the Lagos State Polytechnic, his desire, he says, is to have this great body even when he turns 80!

How did you come into modelling?

My sister was the one who got me into modelling because she is a model herself. Anytime she came home with her friends, with all kinds of looks and hair styles, I always admired them and wondered if these people are from heaven or somewhere. It really amused me so I talked to her to help me out to become a model. She took me to her boss – Modela, where I started and he encouraged me to take modelling serious so that it doesn’t look like I’ve wasted my whole time. I started off with runway modelling but this year, I had to combine runway and photography in order to make ends meet.

How has it been?

It’s not been easy in the modelling industry but with God, things have been going well. When I started, it was very discouraging because you keep wondering when you’d start working. Then, when the jobs come, you start wondering when the big paying jobs would come. But, I’ve realised that success involves three things: putting God first in whatever you do, working hard towards that particular thing and believing it will come to be. I placed all my hope in God and kept praying that the big jobs would come and they came.

What would you say helped?

I tell people, it is God plus my asset – which is my body. My tummy and my kind of face have helped. It’s not everybody that has this kind of face. I have a kind of hard face that you can manipulate to look soft and believe me, it’s really working for me.

Which of the jobs you’ve done, so far, do you find really exciting?

Like I told you, I’ve done several jobs but I quite liked the job I did for Guinness. I played the lead role. I did the first job, they liked it and they called me to do another one. It was really good and the pay was great.

At what point did you consider building your body?

When I started modelling, I was very thin. One day, Modela said to me, “Guy, I don’t think you will go far with this kind of body because now, the demand is for boys with bigger bodies.” I made up my mind there and then to build my body. At first, it wasn’t easy. Again Modela told me that whatever I wanted in life, I must be determined. I held on to that statement and made up my mind to do it. A year after I got into modelling, I started building my body. I believe it has assisted me.

People look at me now and say, “How did you do it?” I used to go to the gym morning and evening and took blood tonic to help me with my health. People used to ask me if I took drugs. If you do those things, you’d drop very fast when you stop going to the gym. There are times when I take a break from the gym and I’m still like this because it was built naturally.

How do people react to this new body?

When people see me, especially the girls, they don’t want to know whether we are in the public or not; they want me to take off my shirt so that they can admire my body. But I always say: “No. I can’t take off my shirt in public but if you come to the house, I can show you.”

What is it about this body that people like?

I don’t know. I ask myself this same question. What is it about this shape that people like? I once asked a female friend of mine and she told me that it is very difficult to find a man that has this kind of body’ a man that looks like a man. If you look at even Bible pictures, you’d find that the kind of men used for illustration are not men with pot bellies. They are usually men with great biceps. Girls just like guys with good physique. A man should look like a man. And, I believe, for those of us that are like this, we are the people that really look like God! Believe me, by the time we get to heaven, you’d find that God has six packs – a real man.

So, you love it?

I really love it. If I can still have this body when I’m 80, I’d love it.

Do you advocate that all men look like this?

All men may not necessarily have six packs but they should look like men; the kind of physique that your girlfriend or wife would be able to show you off and say, “Check out my husband.”

Don’t some men admire you too?

Of course. There was this one who called after a show I had. I don’t even know how he got my number. I told him straight off that I am a straight man. I don’t do men. It used to get me angry initially, but I’ve learnt how to handle them.

How far do you plan to go with modelling?

Very far. I’m planning to pursue it outside the shores of this country because modelling here is still not what it ought to be. Look at the music industry and how it has developed, we need to get the modelling industry to that kind of level.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.