A body retired builder, Soye Elekima, says Nigerian youths could harness and export their potential through strength-training sports like bodybuilding and engaging in money-making ventures to improve Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products.
Elekima, Founder and President, Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation of Nigeria, gave the advice on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt.
According to Elekima, members of the society who take to bodybuilding sport could also be better engaged and given due assistance to become professional sports and entertainment personalities.
He said: “Strength training sport and those engaged in it can boost Nigeria’s GDP. Economically and socially, these people will be somewhere. The drums of Nigeria will be beating somewhere.
“Members of the society who must have developed their strengths and skills and direct them to robbery, communal clashes, cultism and all the rest can be better engaged.
“They can be encouraged with due assistance to become professional sportsmen and women.
“The sport can benefit the people of Nigeria, especially the way it benefitted people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian-American actor; filmmaker; businessman; investor; author; philanthropist; activist, politician and former professional bodybuilder.
“Bodybuilders like Ronny Coleman, Lou Ferrigno, Shawn Ray, Dexter Jackson, Lee Haney and so on, became film stars and made fortunes out of it.
“That was how my brother Gentle Jack also went into film acting and he’s doing pretty well today.’’
Elekima, who owns “Sie Smart Gym International’’, also called “The House of No Mercy’’ in Port Harcourt, said Nigerian youths could make bodybuilding their career sport and become world champions.
He said: “A world champion is given a pro-card and that pro-card attracts a green card and the green card gives you an endorsement and sign-on at the international level making you a professional.
“That was how some of these great names like Arnold Schwarzenegger also started.’’
Elekima, however, said that Nigerians would scarcely find those into bodybuilding sports involved in anti-social behaviours as they were often, erroneously branded as thugs.
According to him, his outfit succeeded to really eradicate the stigma by some members of the society that bodybuilders or strength training sports personalities are thugs.
He said: “Nigerians will say that, yes, those that are into the sport of bodybuilding have been stigmatised as thugs or whatever.
“But you will also agree with me that you will hardly find people with mere extensions of the flesh getting involved in some of these nasty lots that we hear or see on daily basis.
“That simply means there is a channel they will go to and be able to make Nigeria proud more than what people are thinking.
“And that alone is enough to show what we are doing to really eradicate such kind of stigma. We have also successfully achieved this.
“But I must tell you something, bodybuilding has to do with strength training and a lot of youths today find it an attractive activity even at their own private expenses.
“And there is therefore, the natural tendency for such youths to direct such strength to develop into other ventures not acceptable in the society.
“In recent times, you will agree with me that such have also bedevilled our beloved state and country where a lot of youths get themselves into different vices.”