Author(s): Jide Alaka
June 9, 2013
Nigerian boxer, Bashiru Lawrence Ali, popularly known as Bash Ali, caused a stir on Thursday in Abuja as he accosted President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, in a bid to challenge for the world cruiser-weight title in Nigeria.
Ali, 57, is seeking to become the oldest man to hold a world boxing title defence. He had earlier taken his campaign to have his defence staged in Nigeria to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters in Abuja on May 20, but said he was not allowed in.
On Thursday, he jostled to get an audience with President Jonathan, who was at the Abuja National Stadium to inaugurate ‘Rhythm ‘N’ Play, a campaign to get all Nigerian youths engaged in sporting activities.
Ali scuffled with the president’s aides, which duly got the attention of Jonathan. After having been allowed to approach the president, and after stating his mission, Jonathan directed that the boxer see the Minister of Sports for further discussion on the matter.
Ali however alleged that when he tried to see Abdullahi at a private luncheon held with celebrities and a few others, he was manhandled by the minister’s aides and denied audience with the minister.
“There is no respect in this country for the people who should be respected,” Ali fumed. “How can I, when all I am trying to do is lift up my country’s name, be assaulted by a bunch of scoundrels all in the name of protecting their master? I was already a world champion when they were in primary school.”
Although the Nigerian Telegraph has a video showing security officers booting Ali out of the venue of the minister’s luncheon, when contacted, Godwin Ohimai, the Special Assistant to Abdullahi, said that such an incident never happened.
“It is a figment of his imagination to say that he (Ali) was assaulted,” Ohimai told the Nigerian Telegraph. “He is the one who caused a scene right before the president and later at the office of the minister at the National Stadium.”
Ali is trying to beat the Guinness Book of World Record of George Foreman, who became the oldest man to hold a world title at age 45.
However, he may have lost the opportunity to host the fight in Nigeria, as a letter sent to him by the International Boxing Union (IBU) revealed that Ali was been given till June 7, last Friday, to pay the equivalent of $1 million (
N156 million) as IBU’s sanctioning fees.