Nigerian-born British heavyweight boxer, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua on Saturday pulled off another pleasant surprise in the country of his origin, as he paid a visit to popular Lagos water-level slum, Makoko.
Although Joshua’s ancestral home is in Shagamu, Ogun State, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, who is in Nigeria with his mother, Yetunde, met with kids and fans in the area populated with pools of water, shanty homes and streets crowded by open air refuse.
Adult and young females in the slum area also cheered, his mother, while the children made a special presentation, which got him laughing and feeling humbled, as they said his coming to the area has given them all additional inspiration to be ambitious.
Joshua, who held three titles IBF, WBA and WBO between 2016 and 2019, drew a large crowd of admirers in the community, who almost mobbed him, as they scrambled to get up close to him to snap photos.
After a long time hobnobbing with the kids and adults at Makoko, Joshua and his mum finally managed to free themselves and moved on to Lagos National Stadium in nearby Surulere.
Joshua, who last visited Nigeria as kid at the age of six, said he was excited to be back in Nigeria’s commercial capital 23 years after, as the 29-year-old boxer used he opportunity to stop over at many places.
He also gained plaudits from many Nigerians on social media, as the fans and other praised him for being humble and loyal to his orogins, despite the fame and riches he has made in Britain, for which he won a boxing gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
As part of his visit to the ghetto on the east end edge of Lagos Mainland, ‘AJ’ also paid a visit to the Slum2School Project, at an event that had other personalities like Timi Dakolo and Tonye Cole in attendance.
Spotting a casual white short sleeve T-shirt without his trade mark cap, Joshua was full of smiles and laughing, as he took time to lecture the little girls nad boys about his Journey to stardom.
Founder of the centre, Otto Orondaam took the guests on a tour, during which the children urged prominent personalities in the society not to look down on them but give them more support to make it in future.
Speaking on behalf of the children, Alade Mariam, said: “With me here are beneficiaries of Slum2School, who are very grateful and excited to have you here.
“We wanted to host you in our STEM and Innovation Laboratory, but we chose to have it here.
“So that you can see the treasures in this community like us, who are talented, educated and ambitious like you. All we need are people who believe in us like you.
“We like every child in the community to get the same opportunity that you had many years back, so that they can be transformed, they can transform this society and Nigeria at large.”
In his response, Joshua said: “My father and mother left Nigeria when they were 25 years old to the United Kingdom and I was born there, so I started fighting at the age of 18 years old.”