I love sports in general but religiously follow three disciplines among the lot. I am enthusiastic about soccer, boxing and wrestling. I am thrilled by good football when I watch one on television especially the European champions league and the Premier league of England. With array of great stars of the round leather game beautifully dishing out their skills to the admiration of the world the beautiful game is gaining more global audience and popularity as billions of dollars are made annually and trophies won. In Europe football is a big business and no serious club proprietor toys with the welfare of players because they represent whatever the club becomes: successful or otherwise.
Many young Africans have made fortunes playing football in Europe. We can mention household names like Didier ‘Drug’ Drogba from Ivory Coast, Samuel Eto’o Fils from Cameroun, Mikel John Obi from Nigeria, the Toure brothers from Ivory Coast, Michael Essien from Ghana, the Malian Kanoute and a host of others making Africa proud in what they do for a living outside the shores of the unfortunate continent pummelled by poverty and held hostage by visionless leaders. While the political players in Africa serve us misfortunes these soccer players make us happy with their exploits.
On a global scale one can mention great names like Lionel Messi, Fabregas, Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, Fabiano, Puyol, Raul and many others. These soccer stars make followers happy as they display stunning skills and incredible creative spirit that leave lasting memories in the minds of viewers. The modern football has been revolutionalised and when one compares what we are being served today with what the likes of Pele, Maradona and Eusebio and the old soccer warriors gave in their time then things can only get better for the round leather game of eleven players opposed to another eleven in a pitch.
In wrestling, a violent sport where raw strenght, agility and athletism hold sway, alliances are easily made and broken, betrayals are the order of the day and exhibition of pure brutality are marks of greatness in the game of trading blows and physically decimating your opponent until he is down and out for at least three seconds for a three-count victory. The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) organizes matches (some on pay-per-view) weekly, monthly and annually where strong men and women compete for honours and cash. The Mcmahon family holds the ace in this brutal business that sometimes spares not the controversial megalomaniac boss himself.
While the likes of the late Andre the Giant and Yokozuna made names for themselves with their giant sizes names like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Big Show, Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Triple H., Shawn Michaels, The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter are evergreen in the hearts of followers of the sport. But the greatest of them all and more popular happens to be the ‘Rattlesnake’ Steve ‘Stonecold’ Austin. The canned-beer-drinking strong man was involved in many violent skirmishes in his time with one involving the Chairman, Vince Mcmahon himself. At a time he had wanted to overthrow the rich wrestling family. He has since been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and he is now into film making.
Today young men have taken over with the likes of Randy ‘the Viper’ Orton currently holding the heavyweight belt as Champion. He defeated just last Sunday in “Night of Champions” five other superstars like the former Champion ‘Celtic Warrior’ Sheamus, Edge, Chris Jericho, John Cena and Wade Barret, the Englishman whose ‘Nexus’ group terrorised the WWE world and shook it to its very foundation. Six of them competed together for the gold in an elimination battle that rewarded the last man standing as the Champion. Randy, whose father Bob Orton was himself a former wrestling Champion, bested the other five top wrestlers by ‘RKO’-ing Sheamus for the ultimate victory. The mischievous ‘Viper’ happens to be my favourite wrestler.
Few months ago the ‘deadman’ the Undertaker was savagely attacked at his home by his own junior brother Kane; he left the demonic superstar in a ‘vegetative state’ which led to his hospitalisation. In a show of deliberate deception and hypocrisy Kane came to the WWE universe to announce the attack vowing vengeance against the attackers. He had accused everyone except himself the culprit! He aggressed almost everyone like a wounded bull and broke the ankle of CM Punk. As time went on with the Undertaker recuperating Kane declared that his brother had spoken at last saying it was Rey Mysterio that was behind the attack.
The dimunitive but talented Rey defended himself absolving himself of any such act and accusing in turn Kane of masterminding the crude assault. Seconds after a championship match against Rey Mysterio in which Kane triumphed as the ‘Smackdown’ Heavyweight Champion the Undertaker emerged from a casket brought in by Kane and sought to reveal the truth about his ordeal. He confronted his brother and had wanted to deliver his signature ‘shokeslam’ and a ‘tombstone’ but Kane overpowered him and gave him the treatment leaving him incapacitated in the ring.
The animosity between brothers worsened as the Undertaker accused Kane of envy and Kane in turn accused his brother of being a victim of pride which has led to his diminishing fortunes of late. Kane claimed boastfully that he had repossessed the potent ‘power’ of his brother and that the devil has annointed him as his ‘favourite demon’! Both of them are diabolically ‘demented’ with the Undertaker ‘teaching’ his brother the ways of evil. Kane declared that he had been planning the attack for thirteen years bidding his time and waiting for the auspicious time to strike.
From the look of things Kane was acting out of jealousy as his elder brother has been more successful in their careers. (The same scenario played out between two brothers: Jeff and Matt Hardy few years ago). So he desperately wanted to get out of the shadow of his mean brother and ominously be credited with destroying his own brother! Thus far it seems he really has the Undertaker’s number as he has demystified his mysterious brother!
The Undertaker known as ‘the Phenom’ in wrestling circles is a dominant dreadful face in the wrestling world; for the past eighteen years he has maintained a winning streak in Wrestlemania year after year. For more than twenty years he has successfully destroyed many mortals the latest victim in the last Wrestlemania being Shawn Michaels who was forced by defeat to quit wrestling for good. In the ‘Night of Champions’ these two satanic giants clashed for the championship belt.
The two ‘brothers of destruction’ as Undertaker and Kane were known when they competed together in tag-team category were hell-bent on destroying each other and asserting superiority. In the end surprisingly (in an extremely brutal bout that spared no blood nor bones) Kane prevailed over his brother. The grave no-hold-barred fight that brought out the beast in every one of them showcased a classical match that left the partisan sold-out audience in Chicago, USA spell-bound. The Kane/Undertaker saga continues as more intrigues and matches are expected in the near future.
Boxing on the other hand is another violent sport that leaves competitors at the mercy of each other’s physical strenght and mental capacity. When two pugilists tango in an arena the most intelligent and most powerful often triumphs over his adversary. Raw power is on display and the ability to throw punches at the right place and time could be an added advantage. That is why Mohamed Ali is today a great man even in his Parkinson’s disease retirement. In his prime Ali demolished opponents with so much ease that they came out of every bout imagining what must have hit them. With his mouth targetted at his opponents Ali psychologically worked up his opponents by taunting them and casting doubts in their minds. Names like ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, James Douglas and l
ately the Klitschko brothers (from Ukraine) readily come to mind.
Samuel Okon Peter, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, is a professional boxer from Akwa Ibom State Nigeria living in Las Vegas, the US. The 30-year old is the former WBC Interim Heavyweight Champion of the World. Last week Sunday (Sept. 11th) Samuel Peter fought Wladimir Klitschko again at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt Germany. It was a heavyweight championship match for the IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight title. In the pre-fight build-up Peter had boasted that he had all it takes to stop the younger Klitschko with the Ukrainian master boxer promising early knockout against Samuel. Klitschko dominated Peter physically in the bout as he was taking heavy punishment and being physically exhausted.
And in the tenth round Klitschko finished off Peter with a punishing combination which floored him. It was Klitschko’s ninth successful title defence. The Klitschko brothers have for many years dominated the heavyweight division of world boxing. Their profile revealed that they started boxing at early ages. Even the elder brother Vitali had defeated Peter before, so the two legendary boxing brothers have become a nightmare for the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’. The global boxing audience are tired of the domination of the duo that they hoped someone would step forward to stop them or at least one of them but alas Peter failed once again to live up to general expectations.
Samuel Peter’s failure to capture the three unified belts in Germany is enough nightmare for many boxing-loving Nigerians. Yet we must encourage him to continue the quest for gold as nothing good comes easy especially boxing where raw guts and physical combativeness determine who prevails in a boxing contest of that top category. He tried but the experience and technical soundness of the Klitschko junior was overpowering enough. Peter thus succumbed to the dangerous right and left hooks of the boxing great from Ukraine. More training should be undertaken by Peter and the Nigerian conquering spirit explored further if he hopes to turn the table against the strong brothers dominating the pugilism world with relative ease.
The Nigerian nightmare in Germany hurts but it cannot be said to be more hurting than the daily looting nightmares we are being subjected to by our politicians from the local government to the federal levels of governance. It has been fifty odd years of underdevelopment with nightmarish experiences in the hands of politicians whose greediness and mediocrity stink to high heavens. So like Peter like other Nigerians whose failures are sordid reminders of our failing nationhood.
We wish him good luck however in his future quests for the title. Maybe one day he will visit home with it around his waist and present it to the Goodluck in Aso Rock if he wins the next year’s presidential election that is bound to produce a leader that will re-make the motherland.