By Izuchukwu Okosi
Former Nigeria’s Commonwealth Games medalist Obisia Nwakpa on Saturday was left bewildered at the demise of boxing legend, Mohammed Ali, who died late Friday night following his lost battle against a respiratory illness.
Newslegend.com.ng spoke with the gold medalist at the 1972 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and the 1973 All Africa Games in Lagos on the death of the 74-year-old former fighter who thrilled the world with his distinctive style of boxing.
“Jesus, Ali is dead,” Nwakpa screamed in shock.
“Oh God, this is a big loss. A hero is gone. I believe he will be best remembered as the greatest boxer of all time. He made boxing what it is today because he raised the standards and every aspiring boxer looked up to him for inspiration,” the former Nigerian boxing coach who has delved into sports consultancy told Newslegend.com.ng.
Nwakpa, called ‘The Golden Gloves’ during his time as a professional boxer, finds it difficult to pinpoint which fight is Ali’s best. He also spoke on the women in the late boxer’s storied life.
“Every of Ali’s fights was outstanding. Are you talking about his fights against Joe Fraser or the one against Leon Spikes. They were many, none that you will not see his ‘butterfly’ demonstrations. He was a colourful boxer.
“Talking about his lifestyle, people are quick in condemnation. Ali may have had many wives but for a superstar like him, he lived a relatively decent life.
“The man was so handsome that it was not just women who wanted to be close to him. Even men wanted to be friends with him. He lived a life full of temptations because he was a handsome and charming man.
“I remember very well when he came to Nigeria twice- first in 1966. Women were all over him. They dressed to kill just to get his attention. Ali was a lady’s man. I’m sure the US government will give him an honour never seen in recent history. Africans should also honour their legends,” Nwakpa stressed.
The late Ali passed on at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix in Arizona state after being admitted on Thursday, the family disclosed.