5 Famous British Boxers That Are Originally From Nigeria (Photos)

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1. David Bankole Adeleye

David Bankole Adeleye, born 16 November 1996, is a British professional boxer.

As an amateur, he competed at the 2013 English National Junior Championships in the heavyweight event.

 

David Bankole Adeleye was born on 16 November 1996 in London, England. He is the son of Nigerian parents who hailed from Ikole in Ekiti State, Nigeria. Adeleye’s parents never wished for him to go into professional boxing until he had at least finished higher education. When Adeleye was growing up, he admired Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones.

Adeleye began boxing at the Dale Youth Club, at the age of fourteen, under the tutelage of Gary McGuiness. He became Junior ABA champion in 2013, and winning the Senior ABA Novices in 2017, before winning the Senior ABA title in 2018. He later represented England in an international against Denmark in 2018 and secured gold at the British Universities and Colleges Sport Boxing Championships.

 

On 12 July 2019, it was confirmed that Adeleye had turned professional under Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions banner. Adeleye made his professional debut on 21 December 2019, on the undercard of Daniel Dubois against Kyotaro Fujimoto for the vacant WBC Silver heavyweight title at the Copper Box Arena in London. The referee, Mark Bates, called a halt to proceedings as Adeleye defeated Lithunaian fighter Dmitrij Kalinovskij through technical knockout in the first round.

 

On 10 July 2020, Adeleye returned with a second-round knockout over Matt Gordon at the BT Sport Studio in London. Adeleye’s third fight was a return to the BT Sport Studio on 29 August against Phil Williams, whom Adeleye stopped in the third round, achieving his third knockout victory in a row.

Adeleye, who had combined amateur boxing with his studies, graduated in 2018 from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Business Management, in which his dissertation was on the business aspect of boxing.

 

2. Michele Aboro

Michele Aboro is a British professional boxer.

Michele Aboro was born on July 17, 1967. She was ranked as one of the greatest women boxers in history, retiring as an undefeated Women’s International Boxing Federation Super Bantamweight champion. She also excelled as a kickboxer and motivational trainer.

Michele Aboro was born in Hammersmith, West London, and relocated to Peckham in South London at the age of two when her parents separated. Her Nigerian father died when she was sixteen.

 

On March 4, 1995, she debuted as a professional boxer, and her first three bouts were all first round knockout wins for Aboro. In her fourth fight, in October, she won by a sixth round technical knockout. Aboro followed with one more victory, and then, on November 29, 1997, she took on future world champion Daisy Lang, defeating her by a six round decision. The following year, Aboro fought Brigitte Pastor for the vacant WIBF European Super Bantamweight title, knocking her out in five rounds to win her first professional belt. She defended her title once, knocking out Galina Gumliiska in eight rounds on November 28, then followed that win with four consecutive wins before obtaining her first world title opportunity.

Aboro became a world champion when she fought Eva Jones, on February 5, 2000, knocking Jones out in round ten to become the WIBF’s world Super Bantamweight champion. She entered the ring with future world champion Leona Brown on June 13, 2000, defeating Brown in a ten round decision.

After one more non-title victory, Aboro made what has been, to date, her last fight. On November 24, 2001, she beat Nadia Debras with a ten round decision, to retain her world title for the third time.

 

In 2002, the Super Bantamweight hung up her gloves. Aboro is among a select few in history to retire at the top of their game as an undefeated boxing champion. She won Kickboxing World Champion five times, and was a two-time undefeated world boxing champion as well as two-time Kickboxing Champion. From 1999 to 2002, she was voted the best female boxer in the world.

In 2010, she established the Aboro Academy and Aboro Foundation with her partner, Yilan Yuen, in Shanghai China, where she now lives and trains future boxing champions.

As of 2019, Aboro is a resident of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

 

3. Henry Akinwande

Henry Adetokunboh Akinwande, born 12 October 1965, is a British professional boxer who competed from 1989 to 2008. He held the WBO heavyweight title from 1996 to 1997, as well as the Commonwealth heavyweight title in 1993, and the European heavyweight title from 1993 to 1994.

Henry Akinwande was born to Nigerian parents in London, England and started his career as an amateur boxer. He represented Great Britain in the heavyweight division at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

Akinwande made his professional debut in 1989 against Carlton Headley in London and impressively claimed victory in his first 18 bouts.

 

In 1996, the boxer faced American Jeremy Williams for the WBO World Heavyweight title which had been vacated by Riddick Bowe, a fight which Akinwande won through a 3rd round stoppage.

Akinwande went on to defend the belt twice, with victories over Russian Alexander Zolkin by Briton Scott Welch.

Akinwande won his next eight fights against Orlin Norris and Maurice Harris, as well as Peter McNeeley, Kenny Craven, Russel Chasteen, Reynaldo Minus, Chris Sirengoand Najee Shaheed.

In 2001, Henry Akinwande faced Oliver McCall in a much-publicised fight but after a promising start, the Nigerian-born boxer eventually lost.

 

Akinwande, never hiding his Nigerian heritage, brought one of his titles fights to Calabar in 2004, defeating South Africa’s Anton Nel through a 10th round technical knockout at the Esuene stadium. After that fight, he won another fight against Andriy Oleinyk in 2007 before losing to top prospect Ondřej Pála from the Czech Republic by unanimous decision on 4 July 2008, which turned out to be his last fight.

 

4. Lawrence Okolie

Lawrence Okolie is a very talented British professional boxer.

He has amassed fame through his brilliant boxing performances. He has managed to hold an amazing record with zero losses in his 15 professional matches to date. Due to his long reach and punching power, Okolie has managed to become the Commonwealth, British, and European cruiserweight titleholder, respectively, at a very young age.

Born on December 16, 1992, in Hackney, London, Lawrence is the son of Nigerian parents.

 

The now-professional boxer began his amateur career when Team GB selected him in their team for the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the tournament, he recorded his first win, which was against Poland’s Igor Pawel Jakubowski. Sadly, his run ended when he lost against Cuba’s Erislandy Savon.

In the next year, on January 18, 2017, Okolie made a huge decision and turned professional boxer, signing a deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport in the cruiserweight division. His first match took place on March 25, 2017, at the Manchester Arena against Geoffrey Cave. The match ended very quickly, with Okolie gaining the victory.

 

The first victory boosted the boxer’s motivation, and since then, he has never looked back and has continued to win all of the fights he has taken part in. In his total of 15 professional fights, Okolie has won only 3 by referee’s decision and 12 by knockouts.

His last match was against Nikodem Jezewski, which took place on December 12, 2020, in London, England. The match was ended by TKO, and Okolie successfully won the vacant WBO International cruiserweight title.

 

5. Anthony Joshua

Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, born 15 October 1989, is a British professional boxer.

He is a two-time unified world heavyweight champion, having held the WBA, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 2016 and June 2019. At regional level, he held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles from 2015 to 2016.

Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua was born on 15 October 1989 in Watford, Hertfordshire, to Nigerian parents, Yeta and Robert Joshua. Joshua’s Nigerian background can be specifically traced back to the Yoruba people, amongst whom he is of aristocratic rank. His cousin, Ben Ileyemi, is also a professional boxer. The pair made their professional debuts together in 2013.

 

Joshua spent some of his early years in Nigeria as a boarding school student at Mayflower School in Ikenne. Following his parents’ divorce when he was 12, he returned to the UK halfway through Year Seven to join Kings Langley Secondary School. Growing up on the Meriden Estate in Garston, Hertfordshire, he was called “Femi” by his friends and former teachers, due to his middle name, Oluwafemi. He excelled at football and athletics and broke his school’s Year Nine 100 m record with a time of 11.6 seconds.

His cousin, Ben Lleyemi, took him to the Finchley Amateur Boxing Club in Barnet. This proved to be a turning point as he soon began training as a boxer here.

 

Anthony Joshua won the Haringey Boxing Cup for two straight years in 2009 and 2010. His twenties were a roaring success as he won all 18 fights at the Amateur level. This included winning the Senior ABA Championships. He turned down the offer of £50,000 to turn professional.

In the European Amateur Boxing Championships in June 2011, he defeated Eric Berechlin and Chathal McMonagle. He was however interrupted by the Romanian Mihai Nistor.

He was part of the GB Boxing Team and soon won the GB Amateur Boxing Championships. His performance in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2011 earned him a spot at the 2012 Olympic Games.

He held an amateur record of 40 and was accorded the title of Amateur Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Club of Great Britain in 2011.

Though a novice internationally, his first appearance at the London Olympics was sealed with a gold medal in 2012 when he defeated Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle in the super heavyweight division.

He made his professional debut under Matchroom Sport in October 2013. In the next three years, he remained undefeated in all his 19 fights. He earned his WBC International Heavyweight title when he was 24.

 

He went on to defeat Gary Cornish to win the Commonwealth heavyweight title in 2015. He later defended this title when he won, albeit with some hiccups, against Dillian Whyte.

He then defeated the IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin in 2016 to win his first world title. In order to defend this title, he fought against Dominic Breazeale and won.

In what became his second defense of his IBF title, he was up against Eric Molina in 2017. Joshua continued his winning streak and the average view of his matches kept increasing.

The coveted fight between him and Wladimir Klitschko was announced to take place on April 2017 at Wembley. They were to compete for the vacant WBA Super Heavyweight title. Joshua won this fight with dramatic aplomb in front of an audience of 90,000.

Joshua’s match with Klitschko was the most important fight he faced. Klitschko was a boxing royalty who had lost only 3 of his professional matches. His undefeated recorded in front of his home crowd was at stake for Joshua. The match went on to 11 rounds before Joshua won.

 

A rematch was expected between Klitschko and him, but Klitschko announced on 3 August 2017 that he would be retiring from boxing, thus ending the speculation of another match.

Anthony Joshua was next scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev to defend his WBA title. However, Pulev was replaced by Carlos Takam due to injuries. This caused an uproar as over 70,000 tickets were already sold. However, fans thronged the stadium on the day of fight to witness Joshua successfully defend his title.

As of June 2021, Joshua is ranked as the world’s second-best active heavyweight by The Ring, Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and BoxRec, as well as the seventh-best active boxer, pound for pound, by BoxRec.