By Tayo Balogun
I have restrained myself from getting involved with anything about Bash Ali mainly because I have written too much about him as a columnist. He has also featured numerously on my radio and TV talk shows. More importantly Bash Ali has become a man whose world has become so convoluted no one would understand. Not even himself.
Here is a man who is so richly talented but appears determined in bringing himself to unnecessary ridicule and humiliation just because he believes in an idea everyone else knows won’t work. He went to America, made a name for himself. Came back home and somehow became a folk hero. Everywhere and anywhere the song by the man on the street then was ‘ Bash Ali you are very great…’ He was adulated. Loved. And of course he paid his dues. He became the face of boxing in our country.
Then he got ambitious. Over ambitious. And perhaps, greedy. He wanted to stage the Guinness World Boxing Record Fight. Nothing wrong with that. He wanted government to sponsor it. Maybe that would be ok if he is able to get that done. But he drew up an incredible budget that no one would be able to implement.
I together with a few prominent citizens were in the original Planning Committee. One of us was a member of the National Assembly. Gradually, every member of the original committee opted out. That was mainly because Bash Ali’s view about the proposed bout appears unrealistic. We feel there was no way government would be able to raise the funds Bash was asking for. His plan of recouping money spent through earnings made from pay per view is not realistic.
But he was never one to give up. The more you draw attention to the drawbacks in his plan the more determined to push the plan through he became.
Against all expectations, Bash Ali found his way to Muamar Gaddafi who he tried to lure into sponsoring his fight by using the religious angle.
He also had audience with Obasanjo, Yar’Adua , GEJ and now Buhari. Somehow he got the fellows to believe his claims about our country hosting the bout. But each time the practicability of hosting the fight is impeded by logic. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) some years back he said his proposed fight would fetch our country 500 million US dollars, bring development and growth and create employment for thousands of youths. According to him his fight would guarantee 12 million viewers all over the world.
He told NAN that he turned down 11million Euros from Germany who wanted to host the fight.
The truth is that the many claims by Bash Ali are at best not supported by facts. And that is where his problems began. For instance, the greatest pay per view achieved was 4.6million when Floyd Mayweather took on Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2015. Ali projected 12million pay per view for his fight with an unknown retired boxer. More importantly, there is no way the government would be able to fund a bout that would involve Rick Camlin (a 57-year old former boxer) and Bash Ali.
This is the truth Bash won’t face. He has found it convenient to accuse all previous sports ministers and their key officials of demanding bribes from him before they would make the fight happen. The inconvenient truth is that it does not appear the Guinness World Boxing Record fight as planned by Bash Ali would or could hold.
For 24 years Bash Ali has pursued this dream. He has been brutalised, humiliated and ridiculed enough. It’s time for him to do a rethink. Why would the fight not hold? Is a boxing bout between a 63 year old (Bash Ali) and 57-year old Rick Càmlin anything more than a novelty bout? Would any boxing body approve the fight? There are indeed more questions than there are answers. Bash Ali’s recent press release indicates that we are again about to be treated to another spate of accusations. But the truth is there are a lot Bash can still do for himself and this country. I know him well enough to know his numerous talents and capabilities. We should help him fulfill his potentials. But he must first come to terms with reality.
May the LORD bless our country.