Ridwan Oyekola Scorpion, the young Nigerian who just became the new World Boxing Federation (WBF) International Super Featherweight Champion has strongly admonished Nigerian youths to work hard and never allow poverty to make them lose focus.
He also revealed that his rise to prominence in the boxing profession was tortuous while describing it as an adventure that turned around his life for the better.
He disclosed that he suffered many rejections, disappointments, shame in life before he was lucky to be picked in the city of Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State while working as an Okada rider by his promoter and manager, Mr Sola Ayodele.
He also stated that he once considered abandoning the boxing profession because of the hardship he faced at the amateur level saying that he had to beg to survive.
“I suffered terribly as an amateur. You know, it was very difficult to survive. But then, I was good enough and I easily qualified to represent Oyo State at different annual festivals and at championships.
“In those days, you must go to work. Nobody cared how you survived. Most of the times, I would trek from Total Garden to the Lekan Salami Stadium at Adamasingba to resume duties at the Sports Council. If you do not go to work, you would be paid half of your monthly stipend. Most of the times, I would beg people to buy food for me”.
In the same vein, the promoter of the boxer, Mr Sola Ayodele ‘Ford’ disclosed how he discovered the world boxing champion.
He said that he was lucky to meet Ridwan, an ‘okada’ operator at the tarmac in Agodi gate, Ibadan where he had gone to purchase some auto spare parts.
He revealed that he got to know that Ridwan was a boxer when another bike man hailed him as a boxer from the opposite direction of the road.
“During the course of our conversation, I asked him if he was a boxer and he responded in the affirmative.
“As we were approaching Bode, my destination, I was curious to ask him how possible is it for him to be a boxer and an Okada man. This was when he revealed to me that it was the Nigerian frustration that made him to become a bike rider. I was later shocked when I saw all the medals he had won in a polythene bag, and I decided to render my little assistance to him”.
All these revelations were made while the duo featured on the weekly radio show, Parrot Xtra Hour on Radio’ anchored by Olayinka Agboola and broadcast live on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State’s Oluyole 98.5 FM Ibadan, the state’s capital during the week.
When quizzed about his reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari’s congratulatory message when he won his boxing bout, he responded that he was very delighted and happy saying such recognition would spur him to achieve more success in life.
The champion used the occasion to disclose that his parents are now happy with his success story despite the rejection and disapproval at the beginning of his career.
He said “Many times, my father used to beat me to discourage me from pursuing a career in the boxing profession. Luckily there was a day that I participated in a bout, organised by some politicians in 2007 and it was shown on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) television and my younger brother drew the attention of my father to it when it was being broadcast, and my father saw what was happening on the television – he saw me fighting on the screen. He stopped discouraging me as from that day”.
“That singular discovery made him change his mind and he is always happy whenever he is referred to as Daddy Scorpion because of my success story”.
The 23-year-old boxing champion, however charged aspiring sportsmen to be disciplined, focused and to be resolute in the face of opposition while assuring them that sport is now lucrative. He said “You must be ready to pay your dues. You must be ready to weather the storms that will threaten to chase you and discourage you from achieving your dreams. You must be prayerful too. You must remain focused because the future is ours.”
He also encouraged Nigerian youths to combine hard work and prays, reassuring them that God still rewards hard work. His words “It is better to trust God; I never knew I could be a world champion.
He used the opportunity to dispel the notion widely held by people that all boxers are touts. He stated that the boxing profession is a noble, lucrative profession that youths should venture into.
His promoter, Mr Sola Ayodele at this point disclosed that the boxing champion would defend his title in six months’ time while appreciating the Seyi Makinde led-government and other stakeholders in the state such as Engineer Dotun Sanusi of Ilaji Hotels and Resorts, Alhaji Abdul Wahab Adekunle, Mr Remi Aboderin for their support and appreciated roles in ensuring the success of the recently held boxing competition in the state.
The champion also stated that he got his stage name “Scorpion” from his former trainer and coach Mr Ajibola who has trained and produced many professional boxers who are technically good.
He disclosed that he adopted the name “Scorpion” to encourage his trainer who suffered in the profession and was not rewarded by the authorities.
He said “I decided to adopt the name to encourage and spur my trainer to return to the ring when I wanted to turn professional. I wanted to achieve success through the name so as to encourage him and bring him back to the ring. Through my success story, I am happy that he is back today as a well-respected trainer.