June 13, 2009

Zini foresees bright future for Nigeria boxing

Former amateur boxer,    Oghenewarhe   Henry Zini is spear-heading a revival of Nigerian amateur boxing and armed with fail-safe blue print, Zini predicts that Nigeria would win gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.The Delta-born ex-boxer who runs a thriving sports marketing outfit has packaged a well thought programme, tagged ‘Gloves For Gold 2012’ a registered trade mark venture, which he believes would drive boxing revival in Nigeria within next three years.

This programme involves holding a series of competitions and selecting a team of talented boxers, whom Zini would personally be responsible for their welfare and training with a view presenting a crack boxing team for Nigeria ahead of the 2012 Olympics and beyond.

“Boxing gave me a lot and now it is time to give back to boxing. What we are trying to do have no commercial undertones, but purely a selfless service that will bring the glory days back to Nigeria,” Zini said.

He disclosed that he has opened talks with the Nigeria Boxing Federation and newly elected president Geroge Taylor was favourably disposed to seeing Nigeria return to the boxing world map. “We have briefed Mr. George Taylor about our vision. I have also spoken to the National coach Obisia Nwakpa. “Mr. Taylor has also told us his manifesto for boxing and that is to have as many sponsored competitions as possible.

“That is something, which is in concordance with our vision and we are looking forward to working out a plan that will make our collective goal of seeing Nigeria present a formidable team for the 2012 Olympics a practical reality.” Zini submitted that Nigeria has surrendered its number one place in African boxing to Ghana, while others like Uganda, Egypt and Tunisia has pushed Nigeria further down the scale.

“But amazingly, we have a talent base that can give Nigeria a solid team. We are looking at bring up boxers in the mould of Peter Konyegwachi, Jerry Okorodudu, Christopher Osai and Roland Omoruyi.

“Though these guys could only give us silver won by Konygwachi at Olympics’84. They were the best team Nigeria has ever assembled.

“We aimed to have a competition in form of a league. Clubs from the grassroots and state levels would compete just like they do in Ghana every week.

“From these competitions we would form a pool of boxers. Then of course the talents that are spotted would be invited to camp and then we expose these boxers to local and international boxing tournaments to make them fearless at international competitions.”

Zini explained that amateur boxing became comatose, because state sports council were no longer paying attention to the welfare of the boxers and also the Nigeria Boxing Federation was not doing enough to help organise competitions.
“But what we are trying to do will see the boxers getting some stipends. The boxers that we selected would be packaged and put on our payroll.”

Zini said that to achieve this, the programme would entire depend on sponsorship and patronage from private and corporate individuals.

“We are aiming to change the status quo. Boxing has great potentials in Nigeria and if package and made attractive sponsors will come in and they will not regret supporting the programme, because it would a transparent transaction. Our goal is not to make profits, but to make champions,” Zini submitted.

Zini during his days as amateur represented the old Bendel, Benue and Anambra States. His contemporaries include David Dafiagbon, Moses James. He turned Pro in 1990 in Cote’Ivoire, but that lasted only five years.

“I had my last fight as a pro in 1995 against Ghana’s Ishmael Ayei who was under the stable of Nelson Azumah. During my days in the Pro ranks I trained with Ike Quartey, but considering my age I decided to quit and pursue active business.“Now I have taken it upon myself to give young boxers the opportunity to develop their skills,” Zini said.