Former WBF cruiserweight champion, Bash Ali, has debunked an online story that the sum of N7.2 billion for his Guinness World Record fight was “criminally diverted” by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung.
Ali made the statement at a meeting of a yet-to-be inaugurated reconstituted Local Organizing Committee and the Minister in Abuja on Wednesday.
The 63-year-old boxer said he never told anyone money had been released for the fight and only wanted a meeting of the LOC to be scheduled and to enter the record books as the oldest boxer to challenge for a world title.
He said: “I’m not a coward.
“I fight my own fights.
“Nobody needs to fight for me.
“I have never told anybody that one kobo has been released for this fight and that the Minister is sitting on it.
“Number two, I have never told anybody, dead or alive, that the Minister has ever asked me for one kobo for this project or any other project.
“In fact, I have issued a press release that has been published online already.
“We have visited you a couple of times and you gave us transport fare.
“You have never asked me for one kobo.
“These are people who just want to make trouble but I’m happy that they never mentioned my name that Bash Ali said.
“The only thing I’ve come out here to make trouble for is for you to call a meeting of the Local Organizing Committee and that is all.
“So, I’m saying it now, before the whole world that His Excellency has never asked me for one kobo for this project or any other project.
“Rather, twice, when we visited him, he gave us transport fare.
“So let us put an end to these things.
“I just want to have a Guinness World Record fight in Nigeria, where everyone will make money and where our government and country will get unprecedented level of positive publicity.
“They saw us happy together and maybe they just want to kill it.
“They will not succeed.
“Your Excellency, I just want to appreciate you.
“You’re the Chairman of our local organizing committee.”
Earlier, Dalung had said he called for the meeting to clear his name on the trending falsehood.
He said: “Coming when the LOC has been reconstituted is a surprise to me.
“I want to believe that the publisher of this damaging report is an enemy of this project.
“Like I said earlier, no money has been released to this Ministry for this fight and if money is released, I can assure you that we will invest it in this project because we stand to gain more in this project than to sit on the money.
“I have my hard earned reputation and someone cannot just wake up and spoil my name, claiming to be a human rights activist.
“I want to assure you that on the 21st of May, the LOC meeting will hold as scheduled where all institutional members of the committee will discuss plans and steps to be taken.
“Hopefully, we will put an end to all these.”
The LOC for the fight has been reconstituted, according to Ali, and will be inaugurated on May 21, 2019.