Boxing federation accused by stakeholder of trying to pass its responsibilities to save its ailing boxer before his untimely death to others
By Ed Emeanua
Former Nigerian Olympic boxer, Jeremiah Okorodudu could still be alive today had his home federation-the Nigeria Boxing Federation (NBF)- rushed first to his rescue as he laid helplessly on his sick bed in the hospital dying, instead of waiting for others to take the initiative.
Rather than come to the fighter’s aid, the NBF has been accused for subtly trying to push on its responsibility to come to Okorodudu’s aid to save his life to the Sports Ministry and the Nigeria Olympics Committee.
The fighter ultimately succumbed in his battle against the scourge of foot cancer few weeks ago, as urgent financial support needed to pay for his medical bills for a planned amputation of the affected lower extremity failed to arrive on time.
This was the contention of a major stakeholder, who accuses the NBF for failing to rush first to cater for the urgent needs of one of its own, before expecting others to follow, knowing fully well the slow and tedious process that is involved in getting ministerial aid ,and in activating other channels of assistance in this type of emergent situation.
Publicity officer of the NOC, Tony Nezianya, has lambasted the NBF for trying to pass down its responsibilities to the NOC as the boxer pleaded for urgent help to pay his medical bills before it was too late.
“Rather than immediately going to the rescue of Jeremiah Okorodudu, his federation were telling everyone that it was the responsibility of the NOC and Sports Ministry to take care of their former employee,” Nezianya fumed.
“The NOC and the Sports Ministry did not even know what was going on, but the people at the NBF knew that Okorodudu was ailing well ahead of time and kept quiet. When it was almost too late to do anything to save his life, they then started to say the NOC and the ministry are responsible for saving him.
“It was even the little that we (NOC) were able to do, like rallying other stakeholders around, after we knew what was going on, that allowed Okorodudu to last this long. His federation who should have rushed down timely and urgent aid to him to save his life failed to do so, but chose to wait for others to act first. This is wrong”
Nezianya questioned the rationale behind the NBF’s expectation that the financial responsibility of footing Okorodudu’s medical bills would be borne by the NOC, when all the sports federations, including the NBF, refuse to allow the nation’s Olympic committee the access to use the image rights of their athletes for its major promotions until two weeks to the competitions.
“The various sports federations have warned us against using their athletes’ image for our promotional efforts to raise finance for our programme and events until two weeks before the competition in question when it is no longer feasible to benefit from them,” Nezianya complained.
“When also it is the same companies that our marketers and that of these federations would go to seek adverts from, what can we do within only two weeks to raise money to carryout our plans or to assist them financially?
Yet, these federations expect us to move mountains for them with our bare hands. That is preposterous. You know it is very impossible for that to be done.”
Nezianya believes Okorodudu could be alive today had his home federation acted earnestly and as soon as possible, and then wait for other stakeholders to chip in later.
It would be recalled that the late Okorodudu was a former national assistant boxing coach in the employment of the boxing federation aside from representing Nigeria both at the World, Olympics, and commonwealth boxing levels on the platform of the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Association (NABA) now known today as NBF.