Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has praised President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring that the Bash Ali Guinness World Record fight is staged in the country in the next 90 days.
The human rights activist made this known on Tuesday when the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, inaugurated the re-constituted 22-man Local Organizing Committee in Abuja.
Ozekhome also praised the Minister for his support in ensuring that the Guinness World record fight comes fruition.
The Constitutional lawyer, who is also a member of the Local Organizing Committee, said previous plans to stage the fight had been in place for the past 16 years without success and thanked President Buhari and the Minister for making it a reality.
He said: “You have made history not just for yourself but also for Nigeria.
“The reason is simple.
“What you have midwifed here has been in its embryonic stage for 16 years.
“Minister after Minister and government after government, they failed Bash Ali and they failed the nation.
“Even if this is your only achievement, Honourable Minister, posterity will remember you.
“Bash Ali will not just participate but he will win and enter the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest boxer to fight for a title at 63.
“Bash Ali started boxing as a professional not as an amateur and by 2004, he became the undisputed Cruiser weight champion of the world.
“Then he wanted to be the oldest boxer to step into the ring but a lot of forces were against it.
“He went through horrible experiences to the journey path of today where the Minister is inaugurating this LOC.
“We have been on this fight for 16 years.
“Bash Ali has been to Kuje prison.
“He has been beaten up all because he wants glory for his country.
“We thank the government of Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing this fight to come through.
“A lot of people think I only criticize the government but when they do something good, I also praise the government.
“This is something good that has come from President Buhari and God has used the Minister to actualize this Guinness World record fight.”
Inaugurating the Committee, Dalung commended the Cruiser Weight Champion for his unflinching commitment towards the fight.
He said: “I believe that with the requisite backing of the Local Organizing Committee and that of Nigerians, he will be able to rewrite boxing history.
“I enjoin all LOC members to work assiduously and ensure a successful completion of the assignment by making this fight a reality.
“It will be great if we can conclude this assignment within ninety days which is the time limit given to Nigeria to host this historic fight.”
On terms of reference, the Minister charged the LOC to galvanize resources of support and funding through marketing and promotion to meet the immediate demands of the Approving Boxing Union, logistics and events management; to immediately re-invite to Nigeria, the President of the World Boxing Federation, the President of International Boxing Union and the Pay Per View television operators for business discussion; to use a befitting venue in any state in Nigeria to host the historic fight and to undertake the packaging of the historic fight in an efficient, effective, transparent and accountable manner.”
Ali thanked everyone who had assisted him in his trying moments.
He said: “In my struggle to get this fight recognized, I thank all those who contributed financially, morally and otherwise to ensure that this fight is actualized.
“I thank the Honourable Minister for his support and I promise to make my country proud and put Nigeria’s name in the Guinness book of Records.”
The reconstituted LOC comprising 22 persons has Dalung as the Chairman and Dr. Ademola Areh, Director Grassroots Sports Department, as the Secretary.
Other members include Chief Ozekhome, Chief Kenny Martins, the Chairman House Committee on Sports, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chairman Channels Television, Group Managing Director of Daar Communications, Directors General of FRCN and NTA, Executive Secretary National Lottery Trust Fund and the CEOs of Bank of Industry, Transcorp Hilton, Globacom and Nexim.