Infertility not reason for my decision not to have children – Bash Ali


Former boxer, Bashiru Ali, aka Bash Ali, shares with ABDULLATEEF FOWEWE the reasons behind his financial downfall from being a millionaire, and why he desires to become the oldest boxer in the Guinness World Records at 68

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 What was your impact on boxing in Nigeria?

Upon my return to Nigeria, my initial foray into boxing promotion took root in Ibadan. At that time, boxing was virtually non-existent in Nigeria, and I took it upon myself to revitalise the sport by organising regular boxing shows. These events provided boxers with a platform to showcase their talent, earn a living, and take pride in their profession. I became a central figure in this revival, often likened to the Jesus Christ of boxing in Nigeria. My efforts began in 1987 under the banner of Joy Promotions, and my earlier financial success in the United States as a multimillionaire in dollars greatly facilitated my promotional endeavours.

What prompted your boxing journey?

Before my involvement in boxing, I pursued wrestling, having grown up in Lagos. By the age of 15, I had become a national wrestling champion. In 1974, I earned a wrestling scholarship to the United States, but upon arrival, I shifted my focus to boxing, driven by a desire to pursue further education and a recognition of my physical stature compared to other wrestlers at the time.

What prompted your transition from wrestling to boxing?

Despite my success in wrestling, I felt overshadowed by bigger competitors and desired to pursue higher education. This prompted me to explore boxing as an alternative.

How did you venture into boxing?

After completing my education, I stumbled upon a boxing training facility while job-hunting; I saw a big picture frame of Muhammad Ali in front of a building, and I entered the building and realised that it was a boxing training centre, so, I engaged with the trainers, and I expressed my interest in becoming a boxer. Initially, they asked me if I had experience in boxing; I claimed to be a boxing champion in my country, which piqued their interest. Encouraged by their response, I returned the next day for training, even though I had no prior boxing experience. During a practice episode, I was asked to step out of the ring for not demonstrating the skills expected of a champion. It was then that I confessed my lack of experience, but instead of being discouraged, the trainers admired my determination and offered to train me from scratch.

After six months of training, I was ready for my first professional fight; my trainer promised to get me a licence so that I would be able to participate in the then-upcoming national championship so that I would be able to go to the new stage. I explained to him that I wasn’t interested in fighting for a trophy in America; coming from a poor background, my primary goal was to earn money through boxing over championship accolades.

I hold a unique distinction in the boxing world as the only boxer to have turned professional without first competing as an amateur. My boxing journey began at the age of 22 in 1978, and since then, I have achieved remarkable success in the cruiserweight division. I hold several significant titles, including the California cruiserweight title, the United States Boxing Association cruiserweight title, the North African Cruiserweight title (the first African to achieve this), the World Boxing Council international title, and the current World Boxing Federation cruiserweight title.

Despite my achievements, I come from a country where heroes are often overlooked while criminals are glorified. I aim to change this narrative and advocate for the celebration of individuals who contribute positively to Nigeria’s progress and patriotism.

Despite all these accomplishments, why are you still striving for further success in the realm of boxing?

One of my current goals is to secure a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest boxer to win an independent world title. I am currently 68 years old, and my target is to break the record set by Bernard Hopkins, who achieved this feat at the age of 49 years and 95 days. I believe that once I break this record, it will stand for a long time, as it will be incredibly challenging for anyone to surpass it at an older age and still be actively competing.

However, I have been pursuing this goal since the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, during which I was honoured with the Officer of the Order of the Niger, the highest national honour ever bestowed upon a Nigerian athlete. Despite facing numerous challenges, including corruption, I remain steadfast in my determination to achieve my objective. In 2020, I turned down a lucrative offer of €75m to host my fight in either Germany or Saudi Arabia, as I am committed to having the fight take place in Nigeria. I also met with President Bola Tinubu on two occasions before he became the President, and I never asked him for money, all I discussed with him was my plan to host the Guinness World Record fight in Nigeria under his presidency, and I am confident that this vision will become a reality.

What are the main factors that led to your financial downfall?

The primary factors that led to my financial downfall can be attributed to the uncontrolled corruption in the country. Many individuals would approach me seeking financial assistance, often under false pretences, among the government officials of being able to facilitate my fight in Nigeria. Despite no longer actively participating in boxing, I continued to provide financial support with the belief that I would eventually hold my fight in Nigeria. This relentless giving, coupled with my insistence on hosting the fight exclusively in Nigeria, contributed significantly to my financial decline.

However, I realised that I should have heeded the advice of those who cautioned me to invest my money wisely, especially considering the high costs associated with organising a fight in Nigeria and the potential for deception. However, my unwavering faith in Nigeria and its people led me to dismiss these warnings, believing that my efforts would be warmly welcomed and celebrated in my homeland. Looking back, I regret not exploring other options such as hosting the fight in America, Germany, or Saudi Arabia, which might have spared me from financial ruin.

However, despite my financial struggles, my commitment to Nigeria remains steadfast. I have contributed to the development of sports in Nigeria, not just in boxing, but across various disciplines, by assisting athletes in showcasing their talents on the global stage. The corruption within the Ministry of Sports has been a major obstacle hindering the growth of sports as a lucrative industry in Nigeria. If Nigeria properly organises sports, it can generate substantial income for the government and alleviate unemployment by harnessing the talents of Nigerian athletes who are among the best in the world. Meanwhile, due to the lack of concern in the Nigerian Ministry of Sports, numerous talented Nigerian athletes have chosen to renounce their nationality. This decision often occurs when they have the opportunity to showcase their talents abroad and witness the appreciation and recognition they receive elsewhere.

Nigeria is blessed with talented individuals, but corruption is stifling our potential. If I can successfully host the fight in Nigeria, it will be a significant victory for me and for all those who oppose corruption. Nevertheless, I am still the reigning owner of the World Boxing Federation title, a title certified and awarded to me by the California Superior Court of Judgment. The WBF was valued at $62m in January 2023. So, when I say that I am broke, it doesn’t mean that I lack funds to spend; I still possess millions of dollars.

Have you discussed the proposed fight with the current minister of sports?

I have expressed my concerns to the current minister of sports. I wrote a letter to him in August 2023 and I met him last October. He assured me that he would address the issues delaying my fight and that he had written to the necessary authorities. However, as of now, I have not received any updates from him.

How did your perspective toward money change after going broke?

Continuously giving money without a stable source of income will eventually take its toll. My advice will be to refrain from such generosity. However, despite my financial hardship, I have not lost faith in Nigeria. I have remained in the country since 2006, foregoing opportunities to travel abroad, as I am determined to break the boxing tradition of Guinness record holders hosting their fights in America. Despite rejecting a €75m offer to fight outside Nigeria, I continue to support Nigeria, even financially, without seeking assistance from the government. My ultimate goal is to achieve victory over corruption by successfully hosting my fight in Nigeria.

You mentioned that you have spent 18 years continuously in Nigeria; how about your family abroad?

I have spent the last 18 years in Nigeria, living alone without a family. I am divorced and have chosen not to remarry or have children.

What influenced your decision not to have children?

I chose not to have children because I prefer it that way, though it’s not due to infertility but my decision not to have children stems from a deep-seated belief and personal philosophy. I see life as a solitary journey; I came into this world alone, and I wish to depart from it in the same manner. I do not want to bring children into a world that I perceive to be harsh and unforgiving, where they will inevitably have to face the process of death. This perspective has shaped my outlook.

However, I have chosen to lead an energy life, often engaging in activities that others may find unconventional; my unique approach to life extends to my eating habits. I have chosen to eat only once a week, on Saturdays. My diet for the rest of the days consists primarily of water and groundnuts.

What influenced your perspective on eating once a week?

This practice is good for health reasons and also serves as a form of self-discipline and to maintain a state of perpetual hunger, which I believe keeps the body sharp and resilient against diseases. I also engage in regular exercise to stay fit and active, akin to a hungry lion ready to pounce.

How would you describe your fitness?

My fitness level is exceptional for someone my age, and I am often mistaken for being much younger. This has led some Americans to speculate that I have falsified my age, but my records from California, where I began my boxing career, prove otherwise; they came to me and told me that I am an extraordinary individual. However, I am confident that my physical condition and determination will astound the world when I step into the ring for my Guinness record fight.

With whom would you prefer to have the record fight?

If given the opportunity, I would like to face Andy Ruiz, the 34-year-old boxer who famously defeated Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight championship. I believe that a victory over Ruiz will not only secure my Guinness record but also serve as a testament to my extraordinary abilities and determination.

Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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