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Emenogu, world number four, eyes WBC crown

By MATHEW obaro

KING Davidson Emenogu is one of Nigeria's success stories that are hardly told because of the circumstances surrounding his feats.

Abandoned by his country and adopted by Australia, Emenogu has risen to become the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) South Pacific light middleweight champion. He is also the current number four fighter in both the IBF and WBO in the light middleweight category.

Now, he dreams of becoming the first Nigerian (albeit Australian) world champion after Samuel Peter and his stars are shinning brightly right now. But this is a great turnaround for a boxer, who was written off as a spent force by boxing managers in Nigeria.

As an amateur, Emenogu, whose father was also a great boxer from the 70s up till the early 90s, showed so much promise in the sport that boxing fans saw in him another hero. But instead of getting the required push to take him to the next level, Emenogu saw himself stagnating in a country hat has produced so many great fighters.

He was one of the athletes that represented the country during the All Africa Games, otherwise referred to as COJA, held in Abuja in 2003, where he won gold medal. Before then, he won bronze medal for Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2000 and also took part in the Melbourne Games in 2006, where he narrowly missed out of the medal zone.

But his journey to stardom started immediately after the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Rather than join his mates on the return flight to Nigeria after the Games, he reasoned that his destiny was in his hands, hence he decided to remain in Australia to hone his skills. That decision proved golden because, four years after that, he has won two of the most prestigious titles in boxing and his flight seems destined for the summit of the game.

Speaking to The Guardian at Prophet T.B Joshua's Synagogue Church in Lagos over the weekend, King Emenogu said he was building up for his shot at the world title, which chance he added had been given to him. He said: "I am going to embark on a training tour of Britain and Germany. I will be using the tour to prepare for my title fight in May in Tokyo, Japan. I will be contending for the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) title with a Japanese.

"Thereafter, I will go for the world title fight, which will be staged in the United States of America."

Emenogu, who revealed that he would head back to Australia this week, added: "This is the chance I have been waiting for because I know that I am the best light middleweight in the trade. I am going to fight in April just to keep fit, I will go to Germany and U.S. for training and in May I will be fighting the Pacific champion in Tokyo, Japan.

"I was supposed to fight before now but the match was postponed because my opponent had an injury. When I get the title by the grace of God, which I believe I am going to win, I will be heading for my world title in America June/July."

Now that he is at the brink of conquering the world, does he plan to contribute his quota to Nigeria's boxing development? Emenogu, who is sad at the state of the sport in the country, says he would try his bit to champion the resuscitation of the game. He said: "At the moment, I can say that boxing is dead in Nigeria. Each time I visit home, I wonder what truly is wrong with our system.

"As I speak to you today, there are no boxing equipment in the country; athletes are not exposed to international competitions, and unfortunately too, some of our sports administrators have not helped the situation. But, most importantly, lack of funds has also taken a toll on the development of the game in the country.

"After the fight in June, I will come back home to see what I can do for our boxers. We have talented fighters in this country but they need the push to succeed. It is not an easy sport but with the required support I know some of the boys will prove as successful as their peers from other countries."

On what it will take to arrest the slide in the fortunes of boxing in Nigeria, Emenogu suggests: "We need to be sincere to ourselves. First of all, we have to change the attitude of the athletes' and we also have to make them believe first and foremost in Nigeria and then, themselves.

"These are the fundamental issues. We need to provide them with the necessary equipment they need to distinguish themselves at international championships. This is because boxing bags and gloves alone don't win fights. I know what I experienced when I was in Nigeria, one we don't have good equipment; we only have boxing bags and how would that win the tournament?

"They need to take these boys out. Since I came to Nigeria they have not gone for any competition, which is very bad. If they want boxing to go up in Nigeria they need training and spiritual backing, they need to get equipment, set up big gyms and take them to training tours over seas."

Emenogu craves for an opportunity to advise the country's sports administrators on how they can prop up the sport: "If given the opportunity, I will give back to Nigeria for the opportunity I was given to be in the national team," he said.

"If they are ready to support boxing financially, I am ready to help bring foreign coaches and import equipment to this country and set up a big gym. We have people who can do it in Nigeria. We have coaches here; my dad is still there in Bauchi State training the state's team. Obisia Nwankpa is there, Roland Omoruyi, Samson Aransiola and Isaac Ikhuoria are all there.

"If they join heads, with strong financial backing and with the kind of support and equipment that I am going to bring from overseas, we are going to make boxing stand again."

Emenogu, who credits Prophet T.B Joshua with the spiritual guidance that has seen him to the top of his sport, said he was in Lagos to thank the man of God for helping him during his trying times. He added: "From the outset, Prophet T.B Joshua has been supporting and encouraging me. He has been praying for me and has supported me financially and has also predicted that I would become a world champion.

"When those that took us to Australia for the Commonwealth Games gave us no hope in the competition, when they said I was too old to continue boxing, I believed in the power in the blood of Jesus and what the man of God said, that it is well with me.

"I am a happy man because God used Prophet T.B Joshua to touch my life and today my record stands as an undefeated fighter. Before I went for my first title shot in Australia, the prophet prayed for me and told me that I would win.

"Prophet Joshua has fulfilled his promise to support me financially and spiritually until I achieve my dream in life. Now that I have a crucial battle ahead of me, I just cannot help but come to thank him'' Link: http://www.thengnews.com/sports/home/4655-emenogu-world-number-four-eyes-wbc-crown.html