The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday said the Federal Government will soon invite the new World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, to Nigeria.
Mr. Mohammed made this known in a statement in Abuja, saying the government had congratulated the 27-year-old boxer for defeating Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, to clinch world title.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the minister said the government was proud to be associated with the new champion and lauded his open admission of his Nigerian roots.
“My heart is in Nigeria; my heart is in Britain. I am a Nigerian man by blood, yes,” the minister quoted Joshua as saying in a recent interview.
He added that the boxer in the interview, also listed the secret of his success as pounded yam, eba and egusi – all Nigerian cuisine.
The minister hailed Joshua for his humility, despite his success in boxing.
He also extolled his “undying spirit, coming off the canvas after he was knocked down by Klitschko in the sixth round to win by a Technical Knock Out in the 11th round of their pulsating fight.”
Joshua, who made his professional debut in 2013, was born in Watford to a Nigerian mother and a British father of Nigerian and Irish descent.
Some of the early years of the 27-year-old champion were spent in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, before he returned to the UK halfway through year seven to join Kings Langley Secondary School.
NEXT EDITION had on Monday reported how the boxer said dieting was part of the secret of his success in the ring.
He had while speaking with a Nigerian fan in London said he eats Nigerian delicacies including garri, melon soup and pounded yam.
“I don’t disclose my secrets but that’s were my success comes from. I eat eba, egusi and pounded yam. And that’s part of the secret of my success,” Mr. Johnson revealed.
Addressing ongoing controversy over his nationality, the boxer said the most important thing was he is a citizen of the world.
“I am a citizen of the world. All this political stuff where people say he is British or he is Nigerian is not my thing. I am a citizen of the world and that is the most important thing. But my heart is with Nigeria and my heart is with Britain but I am a Nigerian man,” he said.
“I am trying to go out to Nigeria to meet the governor and get to give something back to the people. We want to go back with my mother and do something for the village where she comes from and if I can do more on a larger scale I will come back and associate myself more with Nigeria.
“I feel very humbled and honestly, not just for myself but for the people that have worked with me. I can only repay them by my achievements in the ring.”
Asked if he could speak Yoruba, he said, “Jeje, jeje, small-small.”