The first edition of Rhumbles, the first boxing and entertainment concert in Lagos put together by ACI Entertainment held amidst pomp and pageantry, writes Peter Uzoho
The event which was part of the lineup of activities to celebrate Lagos at 50 had eminent personalities in attendance on Thursday, May 25 in Lagos. Among the top dignitaries present at the event were the Governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; Prof. Wole Soyinka, the Speaker of Lagos House Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, state commissioners, state and federal legislators, party chieftains, sports and entertainment personalities, among many others.
Hosted by top media personality, Olisa Adibua, the event featured two exhibition matches between two females and males amateur boxers. There were also musical performances from ACI Records acts, Buckwylla and Evelle who performed a beautiful rendition of her classic song, Eko Ile dedicated to Lagos at 50. The star music act of the night was Afrobeat legend, Femi Kuti who kept the guests entertained throughout his stay on the stage. Legendary DJ Jimmy Jatt was also on the wheel of steel.
In a keynote address, Lagos State governor, Ambode, commended the initiator of the event, Mr. Wole Adeniyi of ACI Entertainment for inviting Holyfield, who he described as the only living boxing legend to be part of the Lagos at 50 celebrations. Ambode also thanked Holyfield for donating sporting equipment worth $3 million to the state. “I want to thank Wole Adeniyi of ACI Entertainment for bringing Holyfield to Lagos to celebrate with us. As far as I’m concerned, he is the greatest living world heavyweight champion of all time and we are very proud to have him in our midst. As a government, we have always wanted to use sports as a way of driving our economy and there is no way we can showcase sports as the catalyst for economic growth than bringing somebody who is a champion; a revered person and for him to use his God-given talent and resources to promote sports in our state.”
In between his speech, an official statement of apology was delivered by the governor who notified the audience that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would be unavailable for the charity bout as he had to attend very urgent national issues but he will stand for him. He then went on to present gifts to Holyfield who had joined him on stage.
Standing between Ambode and Holyfield, the referee of the charity bout, Prof. Wole Soyinka however decided to broker peace between Holyield and Tinubu but not without jokingly disqualifying the two contestants. He disqualified Tinubu for being late and Holyfield for not undergoing a drug test before coming on stage. He however urged the audience to embrace the course of the event which is basically meant for charity.
Holyfield thanked ACI Entertainment and Lagos State Government for the reception given to him in Lagos. He also announced that his Real Deal Entertainment company has partnered with ACI Entertainment to discover future world champions in Nigeria via different initiatives including a boxing reality show which will all be focused on youth empowerment. “If you want to be a world champion, we will give you the baton,” he said.
An obviously elated Adeniyi thanked Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole for the love showed to Holyfield during his stay in the country and also extended his gratitude to Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Prof. Wole Soyinka for keying into the charity and youth empowerment initiatives which were the sole aim of the event. “The entire team of ACI Entertainment is grateful to the governor of Lagos State, H.E. Akinwunmi Ambode, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Prof. Wole Soyinka and all Lagosians who appreciated the fact that we brought Holyfied to Lagos to be part of the Lagos at 50 celebrations. It doesn’t end there, our company, ACI Entertainment and Holyfield’s Real Deal Entertainment have partnered to host a boxing reality show in Nigeria and other youth empowerment initiatives that we will soon unveil. I must say that there are whole lot for our youths to benefit as we are about to reposition boxing entertainment in Nigeria just like the immediate post-WW11 era up until 1970’s. And we have started the process by bringing the five times heavy weight champion, Evander Holyfield on board as a partner.”
The former governor of Lagos State and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was also very pleased to meet Evander Holyfied when he paid him a courtesy visit in his residence. He took time to dress him up like an Eyo Masquerade, a gesture Holyfield said he would cherish all his life.
The organisers have earlier announced that the charity-focused event “is aimed at bringing world attention to some health-related issues in Africa and will also be donating medical and relief materials worth millions of naira to Lagos State Government and other states.”