The Lagos State Boxing Association has held a welcome reception for its boxers who were victorious at the recently concluded 20th edition of the National Sports Festival, tagged Edo 2020.
The reception for the team held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on Saturday.
The Lagos State contingent dominated the boxing event of the sports festival, winning five gold, two silver, and one bronze medal in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The victorious boxers are Osoba Abdul-Afeez (team captain), Shittu Afolabi, Dolapo Omole, Olamide Mustapha, Adesodun Michael. Others are Blessing Oraekwe, Fatima Aronkomola, and Gabriel Francis.
Speaking at the reception, Jenkins Alumona, Chairman of LSBA, congratulated the boxers for putting up a spectacular show and towering above their counterparts from other states by the amount of medals won.
He also commended the boxers for being professional, and representing the state in shining colours throughout the festival. He also lauded the team’s Head Coach, Waidi Sobaloju, and the other coaches for preparing the boxers to success despite being faced with numerous challenges.
Alumona disclosed that in collaboration with the Lagos State Sports Commission, the LSBA has drawn up a plan to keep the state boxers engaged every month rather than waiting for competitions to prepare them.
He said: “What you boxers have done is to set the ball rolling. Working with the Sports Commission, our plan is to change the face of boxing in the state. We are blessed to have a very strong board, people who have shown that they are a team of action, alongside the Sports Commission.
“Moving forward, one thing I can promise you is that we are not going to be waiting for sports festival before we take action. The technical and planning committee of your board has sent a proposal to the Sports Commission and once it is approved, there is no month you won’t be doing something. Our boxers, we are working very hard for you because you have shown us that with support, you can do very well.”
Alumona, however, tasked the boxers to match the action of the administrators by remaining professional and be of good conduct at all times.
He also disclosed that the package the association has for the boxers will only be revealed after Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, hosts the entire Lagos State contingent to the festival.
Also speaking, Sola Aiyepku, Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, lauded the boxers for their performance at the festival. He also congratulated the coaches and the LSBA for ensuring they prepared the boxing team adequately for the event.
Aiyepku also disclosed that the commission is already planning for the next sports festival, scheduled to hold next year in Delta State.
“Edo wasn’t easy, we know the circumstances that led to your departure and we all know what happened, but you all did well. With what the chairman has told me, when we go with our full house next year, we will double the minimum number of the winners here. So, we are planning for next year already.
“After you have done well for the state, you are still going to do well for the country and, by God’s grace, those of you who want to go forward with a professional career in boxing,” he said.
Aiyepku also reaffirmed Alumona’s statement that the LSBA has submitted its plans to the commission and lauded the board for being visionary, describing it as a “fantastic”. He pledged the commission’s support for the association to achieve its objective of improving the fortunes of boxing in the state.
He also used the occasion to announce that the commission has granted a space to the boxing board in the state for the development of a gym and training centre.
He said: “The chairman already mentioned about the space that we have given. So many people have come out to ask me why we have given boxing a space, but we are proud of the plans that the board has and we are determined to support it to make sure that once a board shows determination and a focus and is ripe with ambition and result, we will back them all the way.”
The sports commission boss also encouraged other boxers who were not picked for the sports festival due to paucity of slots not to feel disheartened, but continue to train properly and make themselves available for selection.
Osoba Abdul-Afeez, the captain of the Lagos boxing team, who spoke on behalf of the boxers, said they are grateful to the LSBA for organising the training camp where they prepared for the games, noting that the adequate preparation helped them to emerge triumphant and conquer their opponents at the festival.
In attendance at the event were Gafar Bolowotan, Director-General of the Lagos State Sports Commission; Adeyinka Adeboye, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Sports; Wale Edun, a sports philanthropist and member of the board of International Boxing Association (AIBA), members of the board of LSBA and the coaches of the victorious team.