Dele Jonathan profile.I was watching Sky Sports this morning when i saw Jim Watt on Tv,immaculately dressed in his suit.Watt was a boxer who became a World Boxing Champion.The same man came to Nigeria to fight one of our Boxers ,Dele Jonathan...and as a child i remember watching the fight him beating the scotsman to a point of exhaustion in The National stadium,Lagos..how Jim saw out the fight without being knocked out was a miracle! I remember the fans singing "O nfi ku sere o ,o Nfi ku sere,Jim Watt,o nfi ku sere" in interpretation,the fans were chanting- you are toying with your life in the ring with our man.
I also remember the same Dele coming to my primary school as a champion of the common wealth after the fight,and the whole school was in pandemonium...this was many years ago in the 70s.
So on seeing Watt,i thought,i wonder what Dele is up to these days.And when i googled his name,i was shocked and sad to the point of tears at what i discovered.Delehas ben ill with prostrate problems to the point that he wets himself now.Can you imagine a once proud athlete going through this? He is now 69 years old and tells how the government has neglected him and failed to help.
All he needs is 1 MILLION NAIRA to correct his situation so that he can pass urine like a normal man and not wet himself..£4,000! That is all our government in Nigeria has failed to give this great hero who won many laurels for Nigeria!
Is it any wonder the country hardly provides anymore great sportsmen?
It is shameful and sad that stuff like this keeps happening to our athletes who at their youths gave their all for the glory of the nation..and now as old men and women have been abandoned.
Jim Watt went on to become a world Champion and even today,he is a very rich man working in Tv..i am sure it will break his heart to see what has become of his boxing colleague.I shall be doing my best to contact Jim Watt to see what he can do to help Dele Jonathan.
Below is the report i found in the Punch Newspaper of an interview with Dele Jonathan talking about his illness..
Climbing down from his one-storey building in Elewura, Ibadan, is now a Herculean task for Dele Jonathan. He rests himself on the railings, taking one careful step after another.
Could this be the same man, who on May 3, 1975 at the National Stadium, Lagos, defeated his British opponent, Jim Watt, to claim the Commonwealth Lightweight belt? Was it the same man, who won 40 of his 58 fights, 24 of them by knockouts and losing only 10 times?
Of course he is the one but it is obvious that walking is now a painful task for the ex-boxer. His swagger and athleticism is not there anymore; he is no longer the feared boxer, who once dominated African and Commonwealth boxing.
Even his tribal marks, which once gave him a fearsome look, are gradually fading away. This is no longer the man, who set the European boxing scene on fire with his tremendous boxing ability.
Several of Jonathan’s contemporaries have also found themselves in one precarious situation or the other on retirement.
Until recently, Nigeria was reputed as a producer of world-class boxing talents. Before Independence in 1960, the country already boasted a world champion in Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey, who defeated French-Algerian, Cherif Hamia in Paris in 1957, to clinch the World Featherweight title.
After 1960, Dick Tiger Ihetu also punched his way to global recognition as he became a world champion in the middleweight division in 1962.
Indeed, Nigeria’s first Olympic medal, a bronze, was from boxing, courtesy of Nojim Maiyegun, at the 1964 Games in Tokyo.
There were other notable boxers like Rafiu King, who fought for the world title but lost. There was also Isaac Ikhuoria, who won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games; Mama Clay, Commonwealth champions Eddie Ndukwu and Dele Jonathan; Hogan Jimoh and several others who made waves during the 1960s and 70s.
In the 1980s, Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games silver medalist Peter Konyegwachie, Jerry Okorodudu, Joe Lasisi, Obisia Nwankpa, Billy Famous and Christopher Ossai also made impact globally.
The likes of David Izonritei, Friday Ahunanya, Jacklord Jacobs, Richard Igbineghu and David Dafiagbon proved their mettle in the 1990s while former heavyweight champion Samuel Peter leads other talents like Isaac Ekpo, Albert Jegbefumere, Fatai Onikeke and others in the 21st century.
However, our correspondent discovered that some of Nigeria’s finest boxers from the 1960s to the 1980s have been living in abject poverty.
Some of them have become homeless despite representing and winning laurels for the country at international events like the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games. Some of these boxers, like Davidson Andeh, rose to become world champions in their categories.
The lives of most of them now are nothing to write home about after retiring from the sport. A lot of them are now a far cry from what they used to be as boxers.
Life is no longer what it used to be and they have to virtually live from hand to mouth. Some others like Dele Jonathan have been left to their fate after being hit by one ailment or the other.
DELE JONATHAN DOWN WITH PROSTATE ENLARGEMENT
At his prime, Jonathan once dined with former President, Nnamdi Azikiwe and military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, in the 1960s.
On retirement, he ventured into transportation business, which crumbled.
Ever since, life has not been easy.
“I am very sick now. I am suffering from prostate enlargement. I have been managing it since 2008,” he told our correspondent inside a church behind his main building.
Since seven years ago, when Jonathan first discovered that he had a problem with his prostate, he has had to pass urine through a catheter and live with the pains and embarrassment that came with the ailment.
He said, “I woke up one morning in 2007 to ease myself but I found it difficult urinating. It was so painful. I was shouting. So they rushed me to Adeoyo Hospital, where they passed catheter into my private part. That was when I was able to urinate again. I have been using the catheter since.
“Last year, when we were celebrating Democracy Day, I sat on a chair discussing with my wife and I felt like urinating. As I stood up, the catheter pulled out and the urine poured everywhere. It was very shameful, I felt embarrassed.
“Though I have been urinating, it’s not normal. At times before I take two steps on my way to the toilet, all my body will become wet. That is the case now. I have been taking drugs as if I’m eating amala. I have done series of tests and each one recommend surgical intervention. At UCH, Ibadan, it was discovered that I also had a stone in the bladder. So, this is what I am facing now.”
Aside battling prostate enlargement, Jonathan also finds it difficult moving. For over a decade, he has had a metal inserted on his right sheen after an accident.
For him, his major concern is getting a solution to his prostate issue but he has been unable to raise money for the surgical operation and everyday his case worsens. Even though Jonathan has managed the ailment, there are fears that if he doesn’t undergo surgery soon, it might lead to cancer.
Has he contacted the government, which he once made proud? Are they ready to assist him, now that he is in need?
“Which government? Maybe tomorrow they will if I can live till then by the grace of God. I have sent message across through the media, through the Oyo State Ministry of Health and people have been trying to get in touch from the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control. I’m still expecting a response and I hope they will respond before I die,” he added.
Suddenly, Jonathan in the course of the interview, burst out in tears, crying like a baby.
“I used my youthful life doing boxing. I started winning laurels when I was with Western Region. I won a silver medal in African Championship in Lusaka in 1968. The first cup I won was presented to me by then President Azikiwe at the Abalti Barracks in 1963 but now I need just about N1m for surgery and I can’t raise it,” Jonathan said amidst sobs.
DAVIDSON ANDEH SUFFERS LOSS OF MEMORY, MISSING
The Andeh family can be described as Nigeria’s most successful boxing family, having produced Davidson, who won the world lightweight title in 1978 and Anthony, who was a Commonwealth gold medalist in 1966.
Davidson turned professional in 1980, and also won the African Lightweight title in 1983 after defeating Togolese TapsogaTiga. He retired in 1987, with an impressive record of 19 wins (12 KOs) and five losses.
But on retirement, Andeh reportedly went into heavy drinking, suffered a loss of memory and couldn’t afford an accommodation of his own in Benin City, Edo State.
Former Edo State sports commissioner, Brown Ebewele, who rehabilitated several ex-sports stars in the state by offering them jobs in the state’s sports council, said he had to stop Davidson from collecting his salary directly, so that he could live a meaningful lifestyle.
“I had to assign a woman, Helen Olaye, to be collecting his salary, because Davidson would spend all his salary in one day in an ogogoro (local gin) drinking joint. She would collect Davidson’s salary and then disburse it to him, so that he can survive before the next salary came. It was as bad as that.”
Davidson was staying with his son, Kingsley, in an uncompleted building- built by his son- until July 7, 2014, when he went missing. But to the surprise of our correspondent, top sports officials in Edo State, didn’t even know that Davidson was missing.
“It’s long I saw him or heard about him,” Ebewele said.
Davidson’s nephew, Bob, recounted the trauma of having to look for his uncle. He said the family had been trying to manage Davidson for a long time but unfortunately they had not been able to find traces of him five months after his disappearance.
He said, “Davidson got missing on July 7 and Kingsley called me a week later that he was looking for his father. He suffered a loss of memory at a time and if he visited three houses away from his house, he won’t be able to relocate his house again. That was the problem. And he was going regularly to the hospital but the government didn’t help matters. The family alone tried to manage the problem.
“I had to rush to Benin and we started making enquiries. We went to the police station, the sports council and to some of his friends and up till date, there have been no news about him. I went to the media as well but we are still looking for him. The family hasn’t seen him, we don’t know his whereabouts. I wouldn’t say he is kidnapped because nobody has contacted the family to ask for ransom.
“The country didn’t even bother about him. But I still believe that one day we will see him. He was staying in an uncompleted building; there is no ceiling in the house. I felt Davidson shouldn’t be staying in such a house; he should be staying in a better place. I was hoping to complete my house in Enugu State, so I will relocate him before he went missing.
“Anytime I remember we haven’t seen, I am demoralised. It is better that we see him dead than we don’t see him at all. We don’t know where he is.”
ANTHONY ANDEH BURIED WITHOUT NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Recently in South Africa, goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, who played just seven times for his country, was given a befitting state burial, after he was shot dead on October 26.
Prior to the burial, Meyiwa’s body received a guard of honour in the streets of Umlazi, his hometown.
But 1966 Kingston Commonwealth Games lightweight boxing gold medallist, Anthony Andeh, who died on May 12, 2010, didn’t get any honour of such, when he was buried in 2010. In fact, he was buried without any government presence or national recognition, after suffering from a prostate problem for several years.
“My father had prostrate problem; doctors said there was a stone in his bladder. He didn’t survive the operation at Niger Foundation in Enugu four years ago. I spent a lot of money and I thank God I was able to pay his medical bills,” Tony’s son, Bob, said.
“When my father died, I used my money to buy the Nigerian flag for his burial. I wrote to everybody including the Sports Minister and the Enugu Sports Commissioner but nobody responded.
“It was just the common people and one or two people from Enugu State Sports Council that attended his funeral.”
Anthony, also represented Nigeria at the 1964 Olympic Games. Ebewele, who didn’t know Anthony had died, spoke about his last moments with the late pugilist.
He said, “Have you seen Davidson’s elder sibling, Tony Andeh? He is always busy showing people the pictures he took with the Queen of England during the Empire days. Nobody knows his whereabouts now. Last time I saw him, he was shaking while walking.”
Boxer Paul Onwuachi HOMELESS AFTER 12 YEARS IN UNCOMPLETED BUILDING
For a first time visitor to the National Stadium, Lagos, it’s a sight to behold watching a pint-sized and extremely fair man training and dishing out instructions to up-and-coming boxers inside the sports arena.
But you will only have yourself to blame, if you take ‘White Horse’s’ physical attributes for a ride. His dexterity and mobility as a boxing coach are startling for a man in his 60s.
Onwuachi represented Nigeria at the ECOWAS Games in 1973, where he won silver in the light welterweight category. He also represented Nigeria in the Scandinavian Games in 1976 and the Asian Military Games in Riga.
Indeed, it was while fighting for Nigeria at the ECOWAS Games that he sustained an eye injury against a Sierra Leonean opponent, which finally stopped him from boxing.
On retirement, the ex-boxer has had a hand in breeding some of Nigeria’s brightest boxing talents between the 1980s till date. The likes of Chukwudi Nwiwu, David Izonritei, Friday Ahunanya, Duncan Dokiwari and Moses James are all products of the coach.
But today, the coach, who had lived inside the uncompleted hostel in the boxing complex of the National Stadium, is homeless 12 years after he packed into the place.
The hitherto neglected building has now been completed by the Nigerian Boxing Federation, and ready for use by the boxers, thus forcing Onwuachi and his family to look elsewhere for accommodation.
Onwuachi’s property was allegedly thrown out from the building by soldiers sent by Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minima, who also doubles as the president of the NBF, in August, to renovate the long abandoned building.
When our correspondent visited the boxing arena inside the stadium, it was saddening to find Onwuachi’s property inside the rain.
“Let’s go and see my belongings outside. They have been beaten by the rain; my chairs, electronics and everything. I just hope somebody will come to my rescue,” Onwuachi told our correspondent.
Speaking further, he recounted his experience, “I just saw some army officers come in to inspect the place. The next day, they brought in sand, gravel, planks and zincs. They saw me inside the building and asked me who was living there and I told them I was and that I have been taking charge of the building for 12 years. They said they were sent by Minima, the Chief of Army Staff, to complete the building. They said they gave me four days to pack out of the building.
“But how could I pack out in four days even if I have the money? Can I get a house under four days? They said that was the order they were given. They should have given me at least three weeks to pack out. At least I am happy the building is being completed.
“When I was a boxer, we lacked such facilities, so it’s a good thing they are renovating the place. So, I pleaded with them to give me three weeks but they refused. The next day, they brought their equipment out and they bulldozed everywhere and they hurried me out of the building. They threw my things outside.
“Since then, I have been staying outside. All my documents and valuables have been outside. I wear a shirt for five days now; it’s the same thing that applies to my wife.”
Onwuachi said since his complaints fell on deaf ears, he devised a means for him and his family to survive.
“I complained to NBF secretary, Olushola Luke, and he said it was an order from above; that nobody should reside in the building while work was going on. If I was given some time, I would find a way through.
“What I do now is that I stay outside when they (soldiers) are around, but when they finish work, I take a mat and lie at a corner inside the building with my family. But my things have been thrown away; my chairs, television have been outside, inside the rain.”
Late Brai Ayonote, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Association, had wanted to use the building as hostel for boxers but died before it was completed. Thereafter it was neglected.
Onwuachi said then NABA secretary, Francis Gbiri, approached him and four others working with the amateur boxing body in 2002 to help save the place from hoodlums, who had turned the building to a hideout.
“He (Gbiri) said hooligans had taken over the place and messed it up. The place was abandoned, people misused the place, used it as their toilet and bad boys lived there. They destroyed the place. The gym inside the compound was completed by Ayonote but immediately it was abandoned, they looted the whole place, they removed even the ceiling.
“That was why Gbiri said we could stay. He said if we could renovate it and live there, it will help keep the building from dilapidating. So we all rushed there. Then I was living at Iyana Ipaja. I came and renovated three rooms inside the building. So, I had been living inside the place since 2003,” he added.
Interestingly, it was Gbiri, according to the retired naval personnel, that rendered him jobless, after offering to keep the building away from hoodlums.
“Gbiri stopped my job in 2003, saying the subvention he was receiving from the ministry was not enough to take care of the office; this was after 14 years as a gym attendant to NABA. It was after one year I packed into the boxing building.”