Abuja – The Chairman of the Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai , on Wednesday assured Cruiserweight boxer Bash Ali of maximum support in his boxing quest for glory.
Agwai gave the assurance in Abuja when he met with Ali who was soliciting SURE-P’s support for the Guinness Book of World Record fight.
The International Boxing Union (IBU) is demanding $1 million (N162 million) sanctioning fees to be paid latest April 30 or Nigeria will lose the hosting right.
Agwai, however, said Nigerians should see the Guinness Book of World Record fight as a national project and help the boxer to source for the money.
“If we can produce in every geo-political zone one Bash Ali, that means we are going to get at least six world champions.
“A lot of them will also want to rise to rule the world in so many sports, not only boxing.
“We should never as a country, individuals, collectively allow this great dream to die.
“I went to Bulgaria and I was in a restaurant and somebody asked me where I came from? I said ‘from Nigeria’ and he said ‘Jay Jay Okocha’.
“That is what he knows; he identifies Nigeria with Jay Jay Okocha.
“I will also want that everywhere a Nigerian goes; they will say are you from the same country with Bash Ali,’’ Agwai said
Earlier, Ali enumerated the benefits accruing from the fight, saying that Nigeria stands the chance of earning about $500 million in the fight and attracting about 12 million viewers.
“This will be the first time that the government of Nigeria is putting money into sports and getting money back.
“I went from Obasanjo to Yar’Adua; from Yar’Adua to Jonathan. It was Jonathan who finally said that this fight must hold to the glory of Nigeria.
“I was offered 11 million Euros to do this fight in Germany.
“I said ‘no, Nigeria is my country; it’s the only country that I have and this historic fight must happen in Nigeria’.
“I have not had the opportunity to make one kobo and the only way I make money is through fighting.
“George Foreman set the Guinness Book of World Records in his country, America, as the oldest boxer to win a world title; Joe Bugner erased that record in his country, Australia.
“So, it’s only befitting and morally right that your own brother, Bash Ali, breaks the Guinness Book of World Record in Nigeria,’’ Ali said.
He said part of the money realised from the fight would be channelled into the development of sports in the country including the construction of sports academy.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the fight was inaugurated by the Federal Government on Jan. 7, in Abuja.
Ali is proposing to fight Ricky Camlin of U.S. in the world record fight. (NAN)