As a 12-year old kid growing up in Lagos, Larry Ekundayo already had the dream of becoming a boxer and not the doctor, lawyer nor engineer his peers would readily say they want to be.
However, the journey to making that big dream turn to a reality has been all but rosy for Ekundayo whose name can be translated as ‘tears turning to joy’.
Ekundayo who arrived in Lagos on Monday from the United Kingdom ahead of a six-day tour in Nigeria told PREMIUM TIMES he is grateful for the initial setbacks he has been able to conquer and where he is now.
He also expressed optimism that with the kind of support he is now getting and the more backing he is working towards, he is very sure of still going far even at 36.
“I don’t just believe; I know I will still go very far, if there is someone like Bernard Hopkins who at almost 50 was beating young prospects, then I can do better,” he said.
Before relocating to the UK where he is now based, Ekundayo fought his way and was able to represent Nigeria at the 1999 All African Games as well at the 2002 Commonwealth Games but he was unable to make it to the Olympic Games thereafter.
“I would not say I regretted not winning any medals at these events… you live and learn, I learned from every defeat I suffered in my amateur career, yes I was disappointed but no regrets,” Ekundayo stated.
After honing his skills as an amateur boxer, Ekundayo soon turned pro and for him, his professional career has been rewarding and making up for the former disappointments and heartaches.
“I remember trying to go the Olympics back then for Nigeria but it didn’t work out, as a pro , I am making up for all the disappointments as an amateur and I am grateful to God and those that are supporting me,” he said.
Ekundayo shot into the limelight when he won the African Boxing Union Welterweight, ABU title in 2015 but he recounts that it was a tough period in his life and needed to dig deep to become a Champion.
He said: ‘I think I was out of action for like two years before that fight because my youngest daughter was diagnosed of cancer, but I came back strong to do what I have to do, that is my message for the youth that they should not be deterred by any situation they find themselves but make the champion in them come out.”
After his ABU title, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Ekundayo who admitted it not being easy combining working for a daily living and professional boxing together.
Things have however, gotten better for the boxer following the support he now has from the General Overseer of the Love of Christ Church, London, Rev. Mother Esther Ajayi.
Mrs Ajayi hosted Ekudayo in Lagos on Monday with several young people in attendance to learn from the resilience of the boxer who weathered the storm into stardom.
The first fruit from the massive support offered Ekundayo by the Love of Christ Church, LOC is the European International Boxing Federation welterweight which the boxer assures is the first of many still to come.
“No disrespect to the former champion who I defeated but sincerely with the support I got from LOC, it was very easy for me to win, that kind of support has been missing for me for several years but I thank Mother Esther for coming to my rescue”
Still hoping for more support coming through, Ekundayo who is billed to visit President Muhammadu Buhari, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu during his Nigeria Tour said he already has his plans at helping the glory days of boxing return to Nigeria.
Among other things, Ekundayo said he is looking to setting up boxing academies in Nigeria and London where he can groom fighters to fight across the world.
Chelsea Facing Potential Two-Year Transfer Ban
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been hit with similar transfer bans in recent years. Chelsea themselves were also sanctioned in 2009 after being accused of encouraging Gael Kakuta to break a contract he had with Lens. That ban that was eventually lifted on appeal.
The news of this investigation from French outlet Mediapart as part of the ongoing ‘Football Leaks’ wave, with Chelsea the only one of the five Premier League clubs named so far. Other high profile cubs across Europe are also apparently under investigation.
It is said that FIFA’s Integrity and Compliance unit is seeking a significant two-year transfer ban that would last for four transfer windows, a punishment that could severely hamper the Stamford Bridge club. There would also be a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs.
Chelsea have already responded with a short statement declaring that they had, “fully cooperated with FIFA and provided comprehensive evidence demonstrating its compliance with the applicable FIFA regulations.”
The international transfer of players is outlawed by FIFA, except in cases where a player’s family has emigrated for reasons unconnected to football or if the club and player are both based within 50km of a national border. There are also exceptions for players within the EU or EEA.
FIFA initially confirmed that an investigation into Chelsea’s recruitment was ongoing as early as September 2017 and a report from The Guardian published back at the start of this year suggested that it related to the signing of 25 foreign players under the age of 18.
Mediapart’s report puts the number at 19 players, including 14 illegally transferred minors.
FIFA is believed to have first been alerted to alleged wrongdoing by the signing of Bertrand Traore, the forward from Burkina Faso who officially signed for Chelsea shortly after his 18th birthday but was apparently pictured representing the club in a youth game aged 16.
Pogba Make “Inside United” Cover For The Month Of December And Reaffirms His Resolve To Stay At United
In the new issue of Inside United, out now, the France international relives some of his favourite memories from an impressive career to date.
After leaving for Juventus in 2012, Pogba returned to Old Trafford four years later to become a key part of Jose Mourinho’s side, and he showed his quality again last week when helping the Reds secure a superb victory at his former club’s Allianz Stadium.
“When I came back to United, it was the best feeling ever,” said Pogba, who was forced to withdraw from France’s squad this week, due to the injury that kept him out of the Manchester derby,
“I came back home. I always dreamed of playing for United, to have many games and score goals. Nothing had really changed, except for maybe the team and the manager, but the rest of the club was the same.
”I just came back home, it was like I didn’t really leave – I just went on holiday! [laughs]. It was a great feeling to come back home.”
In the exclusive feature for Inside United, Pogba looks at photographs of key moments, from growing up in the Academy to lifting the World Cup last summer, and spoke honestly about the feelings generated by reminiscing about the memories.
“It was great to come back, to feel the air of Manchester,” he added. “That has never changed.”
The elegant midfielder also talked about his first-team debut for the Reds, playing against his brother Florentin during the successful Europa League run and why winning that competition in Amsterdam was so emotional, coming soon after his father sadly passed away.
Neymar Jnr bonds with Son as International Break kicks-off (Photos)
Paris Saint-Germain, PSG footballer, Neymar Jnr has shared photos of himself bonding with son, as he arrives home for the third International break for the season.
In shots, the Brazilian striker is seen embracing his son passionately, while lad, Davi Lucca cuddles Dad’s neck and face.
Neymar had Lucca with his former girlfriend, Carolina Dantas.
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