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A ranked list of the best Nigerian boxers of all time: Who tops the list?
Who are the best Nigerian boxers? The sport is among the most popular in the country, attracting some of the finest athletes who have thrived in their home country and beyond. While some are retired, others continue to win titles and build impressive portfolios. Check out the top 10 boxers in the Western African country.
According to boxing.sitesng.com, boxing in Nigeria can be traced back to the 6th and 7th centuries. Professionally, the sport took off in 1947. Several current Nigerian boxers have earned impressive titles inspired by their predecessors. Who are the best Nigerian boxers? Read on and find out.
The best Nigerian boxers
Nigerian boxing professionals have participated in global competitions, including the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. These Nigerian boxers are ranked according to their achievements. They were all born in Nigeria, except for Anthony Joshua who was born in the UK but to Nigerian parents.
10. Efe Ajagba
- Full name: Efe Ajagba
- Nickname: The Silent Roller
- Date of birth: April 22, 1994
- Age: 29 years old (As of November 2023)
Efe was born in Ughelli, Delta, in April 1994 and previously worked at a bakery. When did Efe Ajagba start boxing? The former footballer took up boxing in 2011 under his trainer Anthony Konyegwachie. He participated in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and attained a bronze medal.
Ajagba is one of the famous Nigerian boxers who gained popularity after attaining the fastest victory in the sport. In August 2018, Curtis Harper walked out of the ring over an alleged pay dispute, earning Efe an effortless victory.
9. Isaac Ekpo
- Full name: Isaac Ekpo
- Nickname: Grenade
- Date of birth: October 22, 1982
- Age: 41 years old (As of November 2023)
41-year-old Isaac Ekpo is one of the best Nigerian boxers. As an amateur, he was part of the Nigerian Olympic team and competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics. He participated in the Super-Middleweight World Title three times between 2013 and 2018.
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8. Nojim Maiyegun
- Full name: Nojim Maiyegun
- Nickname: Omo Oloja
- Date of birth: February 21, 1941
- Age: 82 years old (As of 2023)
Retired athlete Nojim Maiyegun is one of the best Nigerian boxers of all time. He was the country’s first Olympic medallist when he won the men’s Light Middleweight category at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. His professional career was cut short by blindness, and he now lives in London with his family.
7. Herbie Hide
- Full name: Herbert Okechukwu Maduagwu
- Nickname: The Dancing Destroyer
- Date of birth: August 12, 1971
- Age: 52 years old (As of November 2023)
Herbie is among the successful British-Nigerian boxers active from 1989 to 2010. He was born in Nigeria but relocated to England as a young athlete. As an amateur, he contested 10 times and won 8 fights. Hide won the WBO heavyweight title in 1994 and 1995.
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6. Ike Ibeabuchi
- Full name: Ikemefula Charles Ibeabuchi
- Nickname: The President
- Date of birth: February 2, 1973
- Age: 50 years old (As of November 2023)
Retired boxer Ike Ibeabuchi is one of the best Nigerian boxers in 2023. He was active between 1994 and 1999, competing in the heavyweight boxing division. In 1994, he won the Dallas and Texas Golden Gloves heavyweight tournaments in 1994.
According to Boxrec.com, ‘’The President’’ was the World’s No. 8 heavyweight in 1997 and 1998 and No. 10 in 1999. Unfortunately, his professional career was cut short by legal issues that saw him serve a jail term.
5. Hogan Bassey
- Full name: Okon Asuquo Bassey
- Nickname: Kid
- Date of birth: April 27, 1932
- Died: January 26, 1998
Hogan Bassey was one of the most successful Nigerian boxers abroad. He was born in Nigeria but relocated to the United Kingdom. He won the World Boxing Association (WBA) world featherweight title in 1957, becoming the first Nigerian to win a world boxing champion.
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In 1958, the athlete was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). He later became a coach in his home country, earning the Order of the Niger in 1973. Bassey died in January 1998 in Lagos.
4. Anthony Joshua
- Full name: Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua
- Nickname: AJ
- Date of birth: October 15, 1989
- Age: 34 years old (As of November 2023)
Anthony Joshua was born to Nigerian parents in Watford, England. He is among the richest Nigerian boxers and was the second English boxer to win a gold medal at the Olympics and a world title by a major professional body. Some of his professional achievements include two WBO championships (2016 and 2021) and British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in 2015 and 2016.
3. Richard Ihetu
- Full name: Rickard Ihetu
- Nickname: Tiger
- Date of birth: August 14, 1929
- Died: December 14, 1971
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The late Ihetu held the undisputed middleweight and light-heavyweight championships in the 1950s. The 1991 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee was one of the most successful Nigerian boxers in the USA. He relocated from his home country to the United Kingdom before settling in America. After retirement, he worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The boxer died in December 1971 after succumbing to liver cancer.
2. Olanrewaju Durodola
- Full name: Olanrewaju Durodola
- Nickname: God’s power
- Date of birth: October 16, 1980
- Age: 43 years old (As of November 2023)
Olanrewaju is one of the top Nigerian boxers in 2023. He has held the African cruiserweight title since February 2020 and the World Boxing Association (WBA) Silver cruiserweight title in 2015 and 2016. During his amateur years, he participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2009 World Championships at heavyweight level.
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1. Samuel Peters
- Full name: Samuel Okon Peter
- Nickname: The Nigerian Nightmare
- Date of birth: August 25, 1987
- Age: 43 years old (As of November 2023)
Samuel Peters, popularly known as the Nigerian Nightmare, became famous for his rivalry with the Klitschko brothers after facing Wladimir twice in 2005 and 2010 and Vitali once. In 2020, the Premium Times ranked Samuel's WBC heavyweight title as the 26th most memorable moment in independent Nigeria’s sports history.
These successful athletes are part of the Amateur Boxing Association, Nigeria’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport. Numerous athletes attach their success to this association, and fans can expect to see more record-breaking stats from the country.
READ MORE: What are the boxing pros and cons?
Sports Brief published an article analyzing the pros and cons of boxing. Recently, several athletes have taken up the sport professionally or to keep fit. What are some advantages and disadvantages of the sport?
Boxing involves your physical and mental faculties, promoting improved physical fitness, self-confidence, and defence. On the flip side, boxers experience numerous body injuries and adverse mental effects. Check out the above article for the factors to consider before pursuing the martial art.