Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:30 pm
United States-based Nigerian female boxing sensation, Helen Joseph, has cried out for sponsorship to salvage her career.
Nicknamed “Iron Lady’’, Joseph told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York at the weekend that her career was being threatened by lack of promoters and opponents.
The female boxer fights in the categories between 115 and 126 pounds, and ranks as one of the best female boxers in the world in those weight categories.
Reports say the 30-year-old is a victim of discrimination in the U.S., especially New York and environs, where she is “avoided’’ by other female boxers for fear of losing their titles to her.
This has left the World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Female Bantamweight Title holder in some sort of limbo since her last bout in June, 2018.
Eager to return to action and maintain visibility, the WBF, IBF and GBU title holder has decided to “buy the fight’’, that is, sponsor opponents to get in the ring with her.
Joseph said that it was the only option she had left to revive and advance her career.
“If you have not fought for a long time, the opponents, especially title holders, will use it as excuse to avoid you.
“They will say `we are not going to fight her because she has not fought for a long time’, and that is why I have to buy these fights to be in action,’’she said.
Her team manager, Prof. Jesse Shipley, said she needed 30,000 dollars (about N9 million) to promote two upcoming fights tentatively slated for Aug. 13 in Chicago, and Oct. 1 in New York.
Shipley explained that the budget would cover travels, insurance, lodging, feeding, promoters’ slots, among others, for her and her opponents.
Speaking to NAN in tears, the boxer recounted all the efforts she had made to secure promoters and sponsors, and how they all failed.
She said: “My career is going down, and if I miss these two upcoming fights it will make things tougher for me
“I have reached out to individuals and organisations through calls, letters and text messages, but none has materialised.
“I am appealing for sponsorship of these two fights to revive my career and place me on the path of realising my dream of putting Nigeria on the world female boxing map.’’
Shipley told NAN also in New York that the boxer’s travails were largely due to discrimination by promoters, who he said did not want their boxers to lose to her.
“Boxing is a very difficult business. Like all sports it is not all about entertainment and showcasing the best athletes in the world, but it is also about making money for the people who invest in it.
“What Helen needs is to prove that she can attract an audience. What most promoters want is a fighter they know will sell tickets, attract audience and make money or be able to sell products.
“So, promoters want to know that Helen can sell tickets. She needs sponsorship from other individuals so that she can showcase her talents for promoters to realise that she is a brilliant fighter.
“They also want to know that she is supported by her people, fans, audiences and others who believe in her. Once promoters see that, they will get behind her,’’ Shipley said.
Joseph, also known as the “Princess of Africa” in the boxing community, holds the WBF, IBF, GBU titles.