Imagine, Anthony Joshua took more than a second look at the Nigerian olympic team in 2008 – he actually wanted to represent Nigeria at Beijing but was told that he ‘wasn’t good enough’ by Nigerian chiefs.
Back then his career had just started, he was strong, determined but had little track-record to support his dream. However the fact that nobody on the Nigerian team spotted his potential and talent even back then is shocking!
Ahead of last night’s heavyweight blockbuster against Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley, it was claimed he wanted to represent the country of his mum and dad.
Nigerian boxing legend Jeremiah Okorodudu, speaking at the National Stadium in Lagos, told SunSport: “Joshua was in Nigeria once to connect with his roots and I think that was in 2007.
“He wanted a chance to compete for trials ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifiers, but he was denied and not given a chance.
“Disappointed, he went back to England to represent Great Britain.
“He went on to win a gold that could have been a first for Nigeria at the Olympics.
Turns out that if Nigeria had let him compete, they’d have not only a gold medal champion but potentially a world champion coming out of their country.
He went into the London Games as a world silver medallist and in the final he won Olympic gold against reigning champion Roberto Cammarelle on a countback — after tying 18-18 on points.
Nigeria’s national boxing instructor Adegboyega Adeniji-Adele was visibly upset when he recalled the situation with AJ, seriously regretting the decision they had made and the opportunity they missed.
He declared that those responsible for the loss of Joshua to Team GB should be investigated.
Adeniji-Adele explained: “Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua is his name and his family come from Ogun State in Nigeria. When he visited, his intention was to represent Nigeria at the Olympics but he was denied in the trials.
“It’s Nigeria’s loss, Britain’s gain.
“Personally, I feel sad that they let him go and those people should be made to explain why it was impossible to give him a chance.”
Ex-Commonwealth and African light-welterweight champion Obisia Nwankpa, now a top boxing official in the country, insists Joshua was just not good enough and the boxer picked ahead of him was better.
He added: “We made the right call then, because he wasn’t good enough and we picked someone who was much better.” Well we say its very debatable as to whether thats true because where’s that “better boxer” now?