Former national boxing coach, Jeremiah Okorodudu, who is recuperating after undergoing an operation in a Lagos hospital, and his wife, have cried out for financial assistance.
Okorodudu rose to prominence as one of Nigeria’s most celebrated boxers in the 1980s. He was a member of the country’s team to the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, United States of America, and also participated in the African Boxing Championships, where he won two medals.
In an interview with Newsbreak on Wednesday at his residence in Irawo, Ajegunle, Ikosi/Ketu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, the former boxer disclosed that he has been ill since March this year.
Okorodudu said he first battled malaria and typhoid before a boil on his buttocks, which left him bedridden for several weeks.
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He underwent an operation at Dan Medical Centre, Irawo, to get rid of the boil on August 10, 2020.
The boxing trainer revealed that some of his former boxers abroad sent the money for his hospital bill.
According to him, he had to leave the hospital after he had exhausted everything that was sent for his medical care.
“I fell ill in March and gradually they said it’s fever, from fever, typhoid. From there, I had a big boil on my buttocks. I could neither walk nor stand. My wife takes me to the bathroom. But for the past three weeks now, miraculously God healed me, I can walk now.
“When I fell ill, some of my boxers abroad said I should go to the hospital. They sent some money, so I went to the hospital. But the bill was becoming too much, so me and my wife decided that I should spend three days.
“The operation was done on Monday, I just came back from the hospital today (Wednesday). I will be going from home to the hospital for dressing every morning”, he said.
While lamenting neglect by the government, he disclosed that he is being owed three months’ salary by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
He told our correspondent that he signed a five-year contract with the ministry in 2014 to develop boxers, but his salary was stopped in October 2018, three months to its expiration.
Okorodudu also complained of poor treatment by officials of the ministry.
“I signed a contract with the ministry in 2014 to develop boxers. The contract was to expire in January 2019. The ministry last paid me in October 2018.
“There was a time I was not paid for 10 months. They said they could not find my file. Normally, they pay my money to the bank. I would have to go to Abuja to fight for my money. Sometimes they will not pay me for 11 months if I don’t go to Abuja to make trouble.
“The last one, I went to a human rights radio in Abuja. The radio station helped me to call the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, in the studio. It was there he gave a directive and that night, I was paid ten months’ salary. The ministry started paying me the way they like in 2015. They are currently owing me N300, 000,” he also said.
He said he has contacted Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, special adviser to sport minister, Sunday Dare, about his outstanding salary.
He added: “I want to personally beg the minister to see what he can do for me. He should come to my aid, things are not good. It is tough. I complained to the boxing federation about my challenge, they did not even talk to me.
“It’s a shame because people like us who have suffered for this country should not be left like this. As an Olympian, I know how much I’m supposed to be getting, but nothing is coming. If you go to Abuja, oga don’t want to see you, oga don’t want to see you, and you are there because of sport men.”
Okorodudu noted that he will be back on his feet soon, and expressed the desire to renew his contract with the ministry, saying there is no coach in the boxing federation.
Nike, his wife, also explained that she has spent everything from her business on her husband’s health.
While calling for help from well-meaning Nigerians and the government, she pointed out that the family is owing two years house rent.
“I don’t have anything in my shop right now. I sell mattresses. If you go to my shop now, it is empty because they have not been paying him and I have been helping him with the little I have.
“Because of his illness, for over two months now, I’ve been staying at home to take care of him because he could neither stand nor walk. I always have to take him to the bathroom and feed him.
“For two years now, we have not been able to pay our rent. The landlord is just looking at his condition and because of the kind of person that my husband is, he knows that he will pay.
“We still have N19,000 to pay in the hospital. Then he will be going from home to dress the wound daily and other treatment he may require. We don’t know what the total outstanding bill will be for now.
“So it has not been easy for me at all. Nigerians and the government should come to our aid, to help him back on his feet and start work again,” Okorodudu’s wife stated.