NIGERIA IN THE RING: BOXING, MASCULINITY, AND EMPIRE IN NIGERIA, 1930 1957 By MICHAEL GENNARO A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2016
Â© 2016 Michael Gennaro
To my parents, both Northern and Southern whom I am sure never thought in their wildest dreams they would have a child teach them so much about boxing in Nigeria. To them I owe my love of sports, history, pasta, and learning. Keep on Loving
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Since I started this dissertation project, I have been asked , for what feels like a million times, the same question (with all its variants) by all who hear about the topic of and 230 lbs. , the question seems like the most obvious one to ask. Although I have never laced up the gloves and stepped into the ring, this dissertation and Ph.D. about boxing was, to me, very similar to a boxing career: one could say it resembles the bui ldup, preparation, training, rising up the rankings, and, ultimately, a championship boxing match. It required years of training, long hours away from family and friends, heartache, pain, disappointment, and in the end, success. In that way, let me both ex plain my road to this point, acknowledge those that helped me in some way towards my big fight for the dissertation and Ph.D. in vain. Those that helped are too many to na me, but here is my attempt at it. When I started this study, I very quickly learned of two Nigerian world champions in the sport of boxing d Dick Tiger in 1962. It was th e fact that Nigeria had two wor ld champions that stood before and after independence in 1960 that drew my i nterest to Nigeria rather than other African nations . Through the Nigerian newspapers champion in any sport, had emerged as the hero of Nigeri a in the buildup to independence and directly contributed to that political development. the boxing ring encouraged him to publicly support the Biafra Republic during the civil war, which led to his fall from grace and early death in 1971. The stories of these two boxers motivated me to examine the sport of boxing in Nigeria more closely and
5 particularly the development of a boxing infrastructure boxing leagues , clubs, rings, a steady supply of boxers, and an audience interested in seeing them fight that would allow such champions to emerge. I expected to find hundreds of fighters and boxing clubs when I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria to carry out research . Instead, I felt that I was performing an archeological dig. I found decrepit facilities, a dearth of equipment, and a closed down National Stadium in Surulere . I wen t l ooking for boxing and found not the temples of boxing that produced these world champi ons, but t he ruins of boxing days half a century before . I quickly realized that b oxing is barely alive in Nigeria . Boxing no longer garnered the respect or attention of the nation like it did in the 1950s and 60s . How did this happen? What happened to boxin g? The huge difference between the boxing as described in the newspapers in 1950s Nigeria and what I saw on the ground compelled me to ask how the popularity of boxing in the nation could rise and fall so quickly . With this question in mind, I wanted to write about the history of Nigeria up to the present day, but I quickly realized that this was too large a project for a dissertation. Consequently, rather than ending my study with the death of Dick Tiger and the fall of boxing, this project would focus on the rise of boxing from obscurity to the start of the golden age with Bassey in the late 1950s. Doing so allowed me to concentrate on the colonial period and better situate boxing within the myriad of changes that occurred withi n colonialism, urbanization, empire, and masculinity during the twilight of empire. B oxer s are like PhD. students, we are always in need financial backing in order to do what we do, and I have been lucky enough to have found the support of several sources. I want to thank the Center for African Studies and the Center for European
6 Studies at the U niversity of F lorida who both supported me through pre dissertation research in 2012 when I was trying to see if boxing was indeed popular in Nigeria during the pos twar period, finding more sources and boxers than I could imagine. The following summer I was graciously supported by the British Nigerian Educational Trust for three months of archival research and conducting oral interviews with former boxers in Lagos an d Ibadan. In 2014, The Graduate School Dissertation Research Award at the University of Florida funded a 6 week research trip to Liverpool and London England, where I was able to sift through the Liverpool and British National Archives and newspapers to gr asp the impact of Nigerians in the city and country . I am very fortunate to have been housed in the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida, and the intellectual environment it fosters and encourages, thanks to the tireless work of Todd Lee dy, will not be forgotten. I will be waiting for my chance to present at an upcoming Baraza. d the great fortune of meeting one of the kindest souls, Bamidele Ralph Ajayi. He started out as my research assistant and through successive trips to Nigeria we became close friends and now brothers. If it was not for him, I would not have been able to na vigate Lagos, find the former boxers, locate the archives, or probably be alive. We talked for hours about the project, questions to ask, and meanings of boxing to Nigerians and how it has changed over the years from the most popular of sports to one of th e most forgotten . I was not prepared for the scale and intensity that is Lagos, and without Bamidele, I would not have survived intact. I also want to thank his wonderful wife,
7 Adenike, who has become like a sister to me. I truly am grateful for their love , friendship, and support. A very big thank you to my Uncle Leonard Altilia, S.J. for not only his religious guidance in my family, but for his selfless devotion to Christ. Through his contacts, I was able to stay in Lagos with the Jesuits of North West Af rica Province, very close to the National Stadium in Surulere . Their kindness, hospitality, and guidance through Christ was very welcomed during a difficult time . I cherished our discussions over lunch and dinner, and they taught me the importance of relig ion to Nigerian daily life. I was most surprised to see that these Nigerian priests were as interested in my findings as I was, with several remembering the charismatic boxing figures of their youth. While in Nigeria, I was fortunate enough to be housed a t the University of Ibadan for summer research at the archives and collaboration through the Sociology and History departments. The Natio nal Archives at Ibadan staff were very knowledgeable and did their best to get me what they could find, although that w as never easy. They did point me several times in different directions that boxing was in association. The History and Sociology Departments pointed me to local boxers, boxing clubs, and former boxing greats, whose insight into the local changes and import ance of boxing I will be forever grateful, like Jaguu in Ibadan, Abraham Adeyemi Jones, Olu Moses, Adeniji Adele, Jerry Okorodudu, Isaac Ekpo, Whitehorse, the Professor, et. Al. Also a big thank you to the Nigerian Sports Federation who graciously let me l ook at their archives, and discuss the history of sport and coaching with several key members. While in Liverpool, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Jim Jenkinson, the Secretary of the Merseyside Former Boxers Association. Jim introduced
8 me to the Association Association , and through several interviews with him and his wife, I was better able to appreciate the impact that Nigerian and other Empire boxers had on the port city. Jim invited me into his home, and made me copies of hundreds of articles in various boxing magazines from his collection. I am very grateful for his help, and for pointing me in the right directions in Liverpool to find boxers and locate Nigerians within the city. It was in discussions with Jim and other boxers that I was able to realize the importance of boxing in the empire. This change d the direction of research , as I was unaware of the importance of the British Empire Boxing Championship. Through Jim, I also had t he distinct pleasure to meet Tony Smith, a former Liverpool boxer who had sparred, fought, trained, and befriended many of the Nigerian boxers listed in this dissertation. He was gracious enough to mail me a picture of him and the boxers from the late 1950 s. Once back home, I looked for his phone # and email to thank him and found that I did not have it. I assumed I lost them, but in fact he never gave them to me. When I went back to Liverpool the following year, Tony was upset k him or remain in contact. Tony is the on ly second that I had treated poorly, and for that I am truly sorry. I want to thank Tony Smith, and apologize. While in Liverpool, I was able to meet Dmitri van den Bers s elaar, a historian of considered yet, and opened many doors for future research. I look forward to many years of academic collaboration with him on sport in Africa. I am also thankful for the
9 help of Diane Backhouse and navigating the United Africa Company records at the Unilever Archives. Being a boxer or PhD student comes with a la rge amount of financial insecurity, and when doing research in London, I was faced with the difficult task of finding accommodations that would allow me to afford to stay long enough to get the s very good friends, Samir Jhaveri, was domiciled in London and he and his wife graciously put me up in their place and spared me the cost of lodging in London. To them I am thankful, for London might well have bankrupted me otherwise. Climbing the ranks towards the Ph.D. title, like the fighter in the ring, would not be possible without the support and guidance from my coach es , but especially Luise White. Her advice was wise, poignant, and direct not afraid to tell me that I would lose if I did not stay focused, write better, clearer, and always knew the larger implications of my dissertation even when I could not see it yet. Like a good coa ch, she pushed me to think beyond my initial reactions, question my assumptions, and reject my nonsense. She did not always tell me what I wanted to hear, but told me countless time what I needed to do, and through her guidance and wisdom I am here, tough enough to take the challenges of academia. Like a good boxing coach, she always knew whether to build me up, or give me tough lectures, but always with the end goal of making me a better fighter in mind. Her humor, wit, wisdom, and intellect cannot be beat . Thank you for staying in my corner and believing in me. I also want to thank Matthew Jacobs for all his advice in being my teaching
10 when I finally taught on my own. His encouragement, advice, experience, and enthusiasm for teaching shaped how I approach the classroom. He also was willing to sit through independent studies on Modern American and World Sports history, for which I am very grateful. No fighter is able to mak e it to the top without the help of friends or sparring partners. The University of Florida History Department has created lasting friendships with several scholars/sparring partners that I cherish and will continue to cherish despite the distance between us that will no doubt ensue. I am so grateful for the d issertation support group, in which friends like Robert Taber, Timothy Fritz, Elyssa Gage, Jessica Taylor, Alana Lord, Christopher Woolley, Mallory Szymanski, Rebecca Devlin, Brenden Kennedy, Johanna M ellis, Erin Zavitz, Ralph Patrello, Andrew Welton, and Brian Hamm helped by read ing several chapters and providing constructive criticism . More than that, they gave me encouragement in between rounds to keep going and not give up the fight , to refine my ar guments, and to think in directions I had not considered . But it is the memories outside the walls of the University I will cherish as well. I will always treasure Thursday afternoon Mario Cart tournaments with the Taber family, Robert, Sarah, and Ainsley, or the time that Timothy Fritz and I were the Rowdiest Reptiles that made the trip to Dallas for the Final Four, or the SEC Championship in Atlanta. early morning tailgates with Timothy, Alan Kent and Amanda Kent, Chris Ruehlen, Wes and the Kraken. est for stars or the writing sessions with Tim , or the running with Andrea when I thought I would die of exhaustion , or the tailgates, or the Southern, or the Springs, or Gasparilla, or Friday afternoon faculty vs students basketball, or gravy making with my consigliere Ralph Patrello, running stadiums and
11 podcasts or watching basketball with Greg Mason, or the late night talks with incredibl e friends/roommates like Noah Sims, John Hames, Brandon Jett, and Erik Timmons. I Finally, I will always remember the times that Mallory Szymanski, Alana Lord, and I went to watch NXT live, or drove three hours to watch Monday Night Raw. For all my friends I made at UF, thank you for your support, in whatever way you provided it. Where would any boxer be without his or her family? Fortunately for me, I have family in Flori da, my Southern Parents, my Aunt Mary Anne and Uncle John Sears, who became my rocks and support in the Sunshine State. I was so very lucky to be able to drive a few hours to Clearwater for home cooking, family, jokes, t he beaches, and an escape from g rad u ate school. This Ph.D. allowed me to connect with a part of the family washer/dryer, and lots of pasta, and I am forever grateful. I am also so blessed to grow closer with my cousins Tom (and his wonderful wife Lindsey) and Robyn (and her wonderful husband Chris) , and feel so happy to become the brother they never knew goddaughter Ember. Having family in F lorida made this experience worth it. I am so thankful for this part of my family. Florida was my home for 6 years, but it became my home because of family. I have been blessed by a wonderfully supportive family in Canada . Although the disser tation, and Skyping long distance, might have strained the bonds, it did not sever the love within the clan. I am forever grateful for my family, my loving parents, my
12 brothers Jason and Stephen (and sisters in law Cher and Alicia ), my sister Michelle (and brother in law Louis ) , and the nieces and nephews (Noah, Matthew, Mark, Lily, Lucy, James, Elise, David, Phillip) . Training for such a fight far away from my home and native land was difficult, especially watching my nieces and nephews grow up at a distan ce, watching my parents grow older, watching my family have parties a nd celebrations in another country, and finally the realization that I would not be returning when this dissertation finished . The sacrifice was difficult and at times never felt worth it . But I am happy that I have had this experience, and in the end, though my address might change, home is also always Toronto. Although my grandparents all passed before they could see the man I have become or me accomplish this feat , I know that without t hem, and my larger family, I would not be here. Keep On Loving. Despite all this help and all these wonderful people who shared in my journey to the top over the years, just as a boxer enters the ring is alone for the fight, any and all errors in this doc ument are mine and mine alone. It is not the title that matters in the Eye of the Tiger , 1982 )
13 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 16 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ........................... 19 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 20 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 22 Hogan Bassey, Hero of Nigeria ................................ ................................ .............. 22 A Note on Sources and Methodology ................................ ................................ ..... 27 Contextualizing Boxing in African and Nigerian Historiography .............................. 31 Boxing as Nigerian History ................................ ................................ ...................... 35 Boxing and Masculinity ................................ ................................ ........................... 39 Chapter Descriptions ................................ ................................ .............................. 45 2 LAGOS, SCHOOLING, AND MANLINESS BEFORE WORLD WAR TWO ............ 51 ................................ 51 Growth of Lagos and British Presence ................................ ................................ .... 53 ...................... 61 Western Schooling, Character, and Manliness ................................ ....................... 65 Physical Education, Manual Labor, and Sport Leagues ................................ ......... 76 Health and Sport ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 78 3 LAGOS, BOXING, AND THE GROWTH OF INTERCOLONIAL BOXING .............. 81 Prewar Boxing and Lagos ................................ ................................ ....................... 81 The Interwar Years, the Great Depression, and Nigeria ................................ ......... 83 Difficulties in Tracking the Rise of Boxing ................................ ............................... 89 Newspaper Wars: The Daily Times, Lagos, and the WAP ................................ ...... 98 Joe Louis, Boxing Idol ................................ ................................ ........................... 103 Spor t, Health, and Advertisements in Newspapers ................................ ............... 107 ................................ ................................ ............................... 115 ................................ ...... 116 Intercolonial Boxing with the Gold Coast ................................ .............................. 120 Boxing in Lagos During WWII and its effects on Manliness ................................ .. 127 Not Quite Ready ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 133 4 MASCULINITY IN POSTWAR LAGOS, 1945 1953 ................................ .............. 135
14 A Whole New City ................................ ................................ ................................ . 135 Old School to New School: Boxing from 1945 to 1949 ................................ ......... 136 WWII Africa and Training Soldiers ................................ ................................ ........ 139 Post War Africa, Nigeria, and Development ................................ ......................... 144 New Optimistic Times and Muscular Citizenship ................................ .................. 149 Post War Entertainment Begins Movies and Boxing ................................ .......... 154 Clubs, Companies, and Boxing ................................ ................................ ............. 160 ................................ .... 164 Collister Belt For Sluggers? ................................ ................................ .................. 170 5 THE BOXING BACHELOR SUBCULTURE: BACHELORS, JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, DONALD FAULKNER, AND AMATEUR BOXING .................... 172 Emergence of a Bache lor Subculture ................................ ................................ ... 172 Masculinity in Nigeria Emergence of the Bachelor ................................ ............. 174 Bachelor Subculture of Masculinity ................................ ................................ ....... 180 Migration, Urban Poor, and Juvenile Delinquency ................................ ................ 181 Donald Faulkner From Prisons to Social Work ................................ .................. 185 The Green Triangle and Early Forms of Social Welfare ................................ ....... 191 ................................ ........................... 193 ................................ ..................... 197 ......................... 205 The Lagos Amateur Boxing Association ................................ ............................... 208 ................................ ................................ .............................. 211 6 THE BRITISH EMPIRE ................................ ................................ ......................... 213 The Empire Boxes Back ................................ ................................ ....................... 213 ................................ ................................ ..... 216 Liverpool ................................ ................................ .. 220 The British Nationality Act of 1948 ................................ ................................ ........ 228 Dick Turpin and the Colour Bar on Boxing ................................ ............................ 23 0 Nigerians as Empire Citizens Coming of Sammy Wilde ................................ ..... 233 ................................ ................................ .............................. 240 Banasko and Bassey Part Ways ................................ ................................ ........... 243 7 LEGITIMACY OF BOXING ................................ ................................ ................... 246 ................................ ............................... 246 ................................ ................................ ....................... 249 The Kano Riot ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 252 The Debate over Boxing ................................ ................................ ....................... 257 Under Debate National Character ................................ ................................ ...... 259 International Reputation ................................ ................................ ........................ 262 Masculinity and Education of Youths ................................ ................................ .... 265
15 ................................ ................................ .................... 270 8 ASCENSION TO WORLD CHAMPION CHAN GED MASCULINITY, NATIONALISM, AND NIGERIA ................................ ................................ ............ 276 ................................ ................................ .... 276 Bassey, the Empire Championship, and Nigeria in 1955 ................................ ...... 278 British Empire Champion ................................ ................................ ...................... 280 ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 299 Manhood and Muscular Citizenship ................................ ................................ ...... 306 ............ 310 Nationalism, Bassey, and the Problem of Unity ................................ .................... 318 Bassey, the World Championship, and Nationalist Hero ................................ ....... 328 ................................ ................................ .......................... 334 ................................ ................................ .... 339 9 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 341 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 346 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 360
16 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Cartoon of Ferdinand in the WAP ................................ ................................ ....... 93 3 2 Domingo Bailey, Nigerian Flyweight Champion in 1937. ................................ .. 104 3 3 WAP . . ................................ ............. 105 3 4 One of the first photos of Joe Louis appearing in the WAP .............................. 107 3 5 Advertisement for Mentholatum featuring well known British Flyweight Champion Jimmy Wilde. . ................................ ................................ .................. 110 3 6 Advertisement for Andrews Liver Salts featuring a white, muscular, fit boxer. . 110 3 7 Ad for Clotabs found in the 1930s and 1940s in Nigerian newspapers. . .......... 111 3 8 Ad for Maclean Toothpaste using a boxer. ................................ ....................... 113 3 9 Ad using a caricature of Joe Louis. . ................................ ................................ .. 114 3 10 Ad for a boxing show. . ................................ ................................ ...................... 127 4 1 Day at the Victoria [Bar] Beach. . ................................ ................................ . 158 4 2 Day at the Victoria [Bar] Beach. ................................ ................................ .. 158 5 1 . .............. 188 5 2 . .. 200 5 3 O. Ajala and S. Bamgbade, examples of amateur boxers in newspapers. ....... 202 5 4 ............................. 211 7 1 Picture of then Rev. S.C. Phillips, soon to be Bishop Phillips of Lagos . ........... 258 7 2 Picture of Homicide Ilori. ................................ ................................ ................... 271 7 3 Front Page photograph of Hoicide Ilori in the ND T ................................ ........... 271 7 4 Picture of Salau Chiko . . ................................ ................................ .................... 272 7 5 . . ........ 272 7 6 . ................................ ...... 273 7 7 NDT headline of the new Lyttleton Constitution . .. ................................ ............. 274
17 7 8 Picture of Front Page news that Hogan Bassey and Israel Boyle arrived.. ....... 275 8 1 Picture of Billy . ................................ ................................ ........... 281 8 2 Front Page of NDT Championship. ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 281 8 3 Picture of Bassey training. ................................ ................................ ................ 282 8 4 Picture of Bassey receiving his Empire Championship trophy. ......................... 284 8 5 Picture of Horatio Agedah, ........................ 287 8 6 Picture of Joe Rufus. ................................ ................................ ........................ 298 8 7 Picture of children from Yaba. ................................ ................................ .......... 301 8 8 Boxing at the Approved School at Isheri . ................................ .......................... 308 8 9 A photo of two young boys boxing in Ebute Metta at a Boys Club function. ..... 309 8 10 Picture of Sunny Dudu. ................................ ................................ ..................... 309 8 11 Ad for Atwood Jaundice Bitters. . ................................ ................................ ....... 312 8 12 Advertisement for Andrews Liver Salts. ................................ ............................ 312 8 13 Advertisement for Phosperine . . ................................ ................................ ........ 313 8 14 Ad for Brooke Bond Tea. . ................................ ................................ ................. 313 8 15 Ad for Bovril. ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 314 8 16 Ad for Brooke Bond Tea on the same day as the Bassey Hamia fight. s. ........ 314 8 17 Krushen Salts Ad. ................................ ................................ ............................. 314 8 18 ........... 315 8 19 Bassey advert for BSA Bicycle. . ................................ ................................ ....... 316 8 20 Ads Featuing Hogan Bassey. . ................................ ................................ .......... 317 8 21 Another BSA Bicycle Advertisement featuring Hogan Bassey. . ........................ 317 8 22 . . ................................ ................................ .............................. 320 8 23 Picture in WAP March 22, 1957. ................................ ................................ ....... 321 8 24 . ................................ ................................ ............... 326
18 8 25 Picture of the fight between Hogan Bassey and Miguel Berrios. . ..................... 331 8 26 . ................................ ............................... 332 8 27 Bassey and the London Conference Sharing the title page of the NDT . . ......... 332 8 28 Picture of M atthew Mbu . ................................ ................................ ................... 333
19 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS BBBC British Boxing Board of Control. BNA British National Archives at Kew DS Daily Service, a daily newspaper in Lagos founded by the Nigerian Youth Movement LA Liverpool City Archive and Family Museum NAI Nigerian National Archive in Ibadan NBBC Nigerian Boxing Board of Control, founded in 1949 with notable members like Douglas J. Collister as the first Chairman and Nnamdi Azikiwe as Secretary. The Board was in charge of sanctioning fights, guaranteeing prize money, medical exams, and licensing boxers, managers, and promoters. NDT The Nigerian Daily Times, one of the first daily newspapers in Lagos. Formerly the Lagos Daily Times. WAP West African Pilot, a popular newspaper in Lagos founded by Nnamdi Azikiwe. WWI World War One (1914 1918) WWII World War II (1939 1945)
20 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy NIGERIA IN THE RING: BOXING, MASCULINITY, AND EMPIRE IN NIGERIA, 1930 1957 By Michael Gennaro August 2016 Chair: Luise White Major: History This dissertation uses sport as a lens to view Nigerian society during the colonial and post colonial eras, focusing on the development of boxing and boxing culture in ic capital, and the influence of Nigerian fighters abroad in England. In my dissertation I make three critical arguments. First, that British colonial sporting regimes built on and transformed masculinity, masculine ideals, and gender relations in a dynami c urban context. The British sporting ethos of discipline and character was adapted and transformed by young male Nigerians, who used boxing as both a sign of manliness and being modern in an urban environment. Being tough, physical, and yet gentlemanly in demeanor helped many young Nigerians attain social mobility when educational avenues to employment and economic resources were closed to them. Secondly, using a case study of boxing in Lagos this project reveals how boxing formed a part of the political, economic, and social changes during the colonial and postcolonial periods. The city overflowed with young, unmarried, and often unemployed men, many of whom gravitated towards boxing as an emotional and social outlet. Boxing grew in popularity the 1940s pr Clubs, which were seen as a solution to a growing problem of juvenile delinquency.
21 creation of a Nigerian diaspora to England, spec ifically Liverpool, and explores the impact that the movement of sporting professionals and athletes have had on Nigerians. nationally. Weekly accounts of the travails of Nigerians abroad were posted in the newspapers, inspiring young men to box and many Nigerians to take pride in their sportsmen.
22 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Hogan Bassey, Hero of Nigeria In June 1957, a Nigerian Bassey and lived in Liverpool, England, won the World Featherweight Championship in Paris, France. Bassey instantly became , more than simply a champion, the hero of a n up and coming Nigerian nation on its path to independence , which it would achieve a few years later in 1960. Bassey was heralded as the perfect gentleman , the ideal representative for Nigeria , and a model for men everywhere. His victory in the boxing rin g was recorded in song and newspaper, and his name transcended the borders of his homeland, resounding in Nigeria, Liverpool, the British Empire, and the w victory was one of national importance for Nigeria, but acceptance of the sport and th e developed over decades , with occasional setbacks and staunch resistance boxer from Nigeria highlights the conditions and changes that moved boxing from a mar ginal sport in the colony following World War II to one of national importance in the 1950s. . When Dick Tiger w on the world middleweight title in 19 62, the sport had reached the height of its popularity, and it seemed that boxing and Nigeria would continue to grow together . And indeed, this was the case for a few more years. he 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and Dick Tiger won his second world title in 1966, this time at the Light Heavyweight Division . However, the affiliation between boxing and the state
23 began to disintegrate in the late 1960s. The problems of the early independence pe riod and the subsequent Nigerian Civil War from 1967 1970 changed the relationship of boxing and its place within the nation. When Nigerian boxing hero Dick Tiger sided with the Republic of Biafra and dedicated his boxing and money to the Biafran cause, ma ny felt that he turned his back on the Nigerian nation. The war appears to represent the turning point for the popularity and acceptance of the sport. B y the early 1970s, less than fifteen years start ed to decline, and to this day boxing has never reg ained the prominence it enjoyed during the golden period of the 1950s and 1960s. Moreover, many people refuse to speak about Dick Tiger due to his political actions, and they often negatively association Tiger with the sport of boxing . 1 In subsequent decades , boxing was unable to reestablish a solid footing in Nigeria . But it is undeniable that for a brief period boxing was one of the par amount sports in the country. This dissertation looks at one part of this story the rise of boxing from obscurity to the start of its golden age in the late 1950s. While Hogan Bassey and his success represents the pinnacle of boxing and the ideal outcom e for a boxer, thousands of other boxers laid the foundation for his experience in the preceding decades. They boxed for a variety of reasons, including money, fame, and even basic survival in the developing city of Lagos. As other scholars have demonstrat ed, spectacle is not effective or even significant without an audience. In addition to the boxers themselves, millions of other people living in Lagos, Nigeria, and elsewhere watched matches in person, listened to radio broadcasts about them, and 1 Many former boxers and fans interviewed for this project refused to speak of Dick Tiger, his association to Biafra, or his legacy in the ring. Many quickly changed the subject to Hogan Bassey as a more ideal y of boxing.
24 read abou t the events in newspapers. They cheered for their favorites and debated with friends about the skill and potential of particular boxers. When they were not actively watching, reading, or debating about matches, they waited in anticipation for news about t heir favorites. In the years following World War I , a generation of boxing enthusiasts emerged. The growing popularity of boxing in Lagos and elsewhere in Nigeria over the course of the first half of the twentieth century compels us to consider: why did bo xers participate in matches despite the dangers inherent to boxing? Who watched, read, and debated about the nature of boxing, the effectiveness of particular boxers, and the outcomes of fights and why? Why did soccer or other sports not attain the same si gnificance under colonialism ? What was at stake for Nigerians in the development of boxing as a sport and the success of its fighters? Finally, what can the enthusiasm for boxing, whether negative or positive, tell us about the larger society, its social m ores, values, ideals, and debates? Although existing scholarship has examined the development and impact of other sports in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, it has generally overlooked the relevance of boxing. The prominence of the sport in archival record s, newspaper reports, and popular memory encourages a comprehensive study of the role of boxing in Nigeria, and specifically in the rapidly developing city of Lagos. This first academic history of boxing in Nigeria focuses on the case stud ies of Lagos in g eneral and the careers of several prominent Lagosian boxers in particular to demonstrate the complex relationship between boxing, culture, masculinity, and politics in Nigeria from the end of World War I rld Featherweight Championship match of 1957, three years before the nation achieved independence. It
25 seeks to connect the experiences of urban Lagosians in an emerging nation to the growth and development of Nigerian boxing clubs, tournaments and competit ions, boxers, and characters. In addition to using boxing as the point of access through which to examine domestic developments, this study will demonstrate how the participation of Nigerian boxers in the British Empire and World Championship fights served to connect Nigeria to the outside world and even encouraged its prominence on the international stage. In doing so, this work sheds light on the ways in which Nigeria was not merely impacted by, but participated in and influenced larger trends in the Brit political, economic, social, and sporting histories during the twilight of empire. This dissertation makes four main arguments. First, it suggests that boxing encouraged the emergence of two forms of Nigerian masculinity in Lagos in the first half of the twentieth century. These two forms were based on urban toughness, sport, and health, and they were shaped almost exclusively by young and unma rried men. Boxing is both a lens by which to analyze these masculinities as well an active factor that influenced their development. As boxers gained more prominence and media coverage, they became the ideal masculine model, both physically and socially, f or the younger generation of boy s and men who faced uncertain economic, political, and cultural circumstances in the city of Lagos. Although it cannot be denied that British colonial sporting regimes built on and at times transformed Nigerian masculinity, masculine ideals, and gender relations in dynamic urban contexts, a study of boxing demonstrates how Nigerians actively modified gender models for their own uses. The British sporting ethos of discipline, character, and tropical health were adapted and tra nsformed by young male
26 Nigerians, many of whom were bachelors in the city, who used boxing as both a sign of manliness and modernity in the urban environment of Lagos. Either through boxing or by emulating the tough, physical, but gentlemanly demeanor of b oxers aided many young Nigerians in attaining social mobility when educational avenues to employment and economic resources were closed to them. Secondly, b World War II reflects the fusing of nationalism, perceptions of health, and masculinity in urban locals so that the discipline, character, and constitution of the individual was linked to that of the body poli tic. Using the study of boxing in Lagos this project reveals how boxing stood at the center of political, economic, and social changes taking place during the colonial period, especially after the Second World War. It argues that the Great Depression and W WII were indeed important and transformative periods in Nigerian and African history. The experiences of war, the training of soldiers, and deprivations of depression and wartime created a hyper masculine urban environment, one where the physicality of box ing was appreciated, desired, and praised. Reflecting both a bottom up and top down development, at the same time that young, unmarried, and often unemployed men turned to boxing as an emotional and social outlet to deal with these experiences, officials e ncouraged boxing as a solution the social problems these experiences created. Thus, while colonial administrators and British expatriates originally brought boxing to Nigeria and encouraged its prevalence for their own purposes, the sport provided a litera l space for Nigerians to shape the British sporting ethos into a Nigerian conceptual framework. Lagosian boxers imbued the sport with their own styles and personalities, creating a uniquely Nigerian sporting culture.
27 Third, this work also adds a dimension to the history o as understood by Paul Gilroy. 2 In addition to the music and literature that Gilroy highlighted in his study, boxing also served as a conduit through which people, ideas, and identities could travel , impacting conceptions of race . Nigerian boxers abro ad like Hogan Bassey brought Nigeria to the attention of international communities at a time when Nigeria was looking for world recognition and in need of an international beacon. Weekly accounts of the travails of Nigerian boxers abroad posted in the Lagosian newspapers not only inspired others to box, but they also made readers aware of their growing presence on the international stage . Lastly, I argue that the sport of boxing can be a useful lens with which to vi ew another angle of the nationalist movement during the 1950s in Nigeria. The commentary during the buildup and aftermath hampionship victory reveals deep seated anxiety over the readiness of Nigeria for political independence in the fac e of t the World Featherweight Championship in 1957 heralded boxing as a sport that shaped men into disciplined, heathy citizens with the proper character needed to make Nigeria strong after indepen dence. A Note on Sources and Methodology Boxing as a sport cuts across class, gender, and racial lines and by the end of colonialism, boxing was one of the most celebrated and popular sports in Nigeria, enjoyed by people on all levels of society. Yet, boxi ng was also a controversial sport, 2 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993).
28 and because people debated whether it was a good tool by which to develop the nation, there was a lot at stake with the continuation of the sport. Because discussion about the future of the nation and sports in general to ok place in the public arena, so too did discourse about boxing. The public nature of this discourse and its connection to the fate of the nation makes newspaper reports the primary channels through which this discourse took place essential. Oral histori es and archival government records serve to supplement and offer different perspectives on events, but newspapers captured the enthusiasm of the public and changes in the way people saw boxing and its usefulness to the state. Although the newspaper s vary in how they detail the sport, there tends to be two types of reports. The most basic type offers a straightforward account of the matches themselves, providing information about the individual contests, tournaments, the results, the people who participated , and upcoming matches. They often provide play by play details about the matches and the skill s of the boxers. These reports are significant because they reveal the growing number of boxing matches in Lagos over the decades and the physical characteristic s of the boxers who participated, and by providing the names, pictures, and descriptions of their boxing style, offer insight into the personalities of the boxers. Public opinion pieces about the place and role of boxing in society represent the second typ e of newspaper report about boxing. These reports clearly demonstrate that boxers were perceived as and represented much more than athletes. The conflicting views of boxing reflect the fact that not merely the fate of a sport was at stake , but the future o f the entire nation. Since many authors of these pieces responded to each other, these reports may be read as a conversation. Changes
29 in the tone and vocabulary of these pieces represent a gauge by which to measure the underlying anxiety about masculinity, political development, and the place of Nigeria on the world stage. Beyond boxing, newspaper reports describing political and economic developments provide context for changing views of the sport. Lagosian newspapers point the influence that Liverpool an d the British Boxing Board of Control had on the growth and development of Nigerian boxing. Moreover, reports indicate an economic connection between Liverpool and Lagos that facilitated and was in turn impacted by the ascendancy of boxing in Nigeria. Furt hermore, newspaper reports from Liverpool demonstrate how Nigerians were viewed from the outside, as well as how visiting Nigerian boxers shaped images and representations of Nigeria and black bodies in Britain. Although newspaper reports offer insight int o the public perception of boxing and boxers, they tend to sensationalize facts and focus on aspects that might garner the most attention from their reader base. Furthermore, although boxers and managers were often quoted, they rarely offered their own per spective. Consequently, the perception that newspaper reports offer is often distorted and one sided. To counteract this skewed view and help fill in the gaps of information that the newspaper reports left behind, I conducted forty interviews with former b oxers, managers, club officials, coaches, trainers, spectators, and administrators and their family members. The oral histories that I gathered allow for a closer look at the reality of the situation, getting beyond the often heroic image that many of the newspaper accounts present to see why and how boxing mattered to individuals. Furthermore, these oral histories relay
30 different geographical perspectives since I was able to record the memories of Liverpudlians as well as Lagosians. Finally, while newspap er reports and oral histories offer essential insight into the popular view of boxing and its role in the development of Nigeria, these sources lack s approach to the sport. Due to the political significance of boxing, it i s essential to understand how it influenced or was influenced by official policy. The collection of government documents at the Nigerian National Archives at Ibadan (NAI) in Lagos indicate that boxing as a sport was not a major problem for colonial authori ties or linked heavily to racial supremacy and apartheid , like it was in Southern Rhodesia or South Africa. 3 As a result, boxing shows up in governmental records indirectly. For example, they reveal that the government responded to the problem of juve nile delinquency by encouraging amateur boxing and access to sporting equipment and space. Of course, the inherent weakness of these records is that boxing is not the center of the story, and they do not discuss the triumphs and experiences of the boxers themse lves. Instead, they describe the ideals and ideas of the co lonial administration, social welfare officers, British expatriates, and foreign companie s . Consequently, the various sources newspapers, oral histories, and government records work together, bal ancing out the weakness of each to form a more 3 Southern Rhodesia recruited many different ethnic groups to work from surrounding areas like anxieties of the colonial administration in the 193 0s. The colonial administration attempted to install Terence in William Baker and James Mangan (ed.) Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History (New York: Africana Publishing Co, 1987), 196 216. African, and Indian men, especially new migrants to Johanne 1 959 International Journal of the History of Sport 28. 1 (2011):47 62.
31 complete picture of boxing in early twentieth century Nigeria and its role in the development of the nation and its citizens. Con textualizing Boxing in African and Nigerian H istoriography Nigerian scholars ha ve been slow to use sport as an analytical tool for historical popular arts in Africa has spawned several works that detail the impact of colonialism on movies, literature, plays, songs, and dances. Since popular arts were widespread and flourished within the colonial situation at different times and places, often without the involvement of colonial oversight and sometimes in defiance of them, their importance to African soc iety was undeniable. Focusing on those arts and how people consumed them , be they football, music, or movies, opens a door to what she deemed as African experience not found through the archives . Barber also contended that sport was another important avenu e for popular arts during colonialism. 4 Nigerian sports history is a relatively new field of inquiry with several works based on various sports published in the last decade or so. 5 Recently, Nigerian historians have used sport primarily to look at national ism and nation building, urbanization, and politics. This dissertation build s on and compliments these recent studies, but also moves the discussion of sport onto masculinity and how sport impacted conceptions of manliness and masculine behavior. As previously mentioned, this dissertation seeks to fill the gap in scholarship concerning the development and role of sports in Africa, and particularly Nigeria, by 4 African Studies Review 30. 3 (1987): 1 78. 5 nd the Symbolisms of Expressions, 1930 niversity), 2003.
32 offering an examination of boxing in Lagos and its connection to the identity and political d evelopment of the nation and its citizens. To do so, I will adopt and adapt the approaches that scholars have applied to other aspects of leisure and sports and other African nations while also acknowledging the unique factors within Nigeria and its relati onship to the British Empire that shaped Nigerian perception, enjoyment, employment, and performance of boxing. This study will adopt and adapt the approach of Akyeampong and Ambler , who use leisure as a window into the everyday lives of Africans. T hese s cholars argue that an examination of leisurely activities, including movies, radio, music, drinking, dancing, and sport, serve to expand the scope and understanding of African popular culture and the realities of life under colonialism in ways that histori es looking exclusively at labor and politics cannot reach . 6 within society and how Nigerians participated both as boxers and spectators, it is possible to gain a clearer picture of how Nigerians ada pted a sport introduced by the colonial government for their own ends. A focus on the history of boxing provides insight beyond the British civilizing mission to the goals, aspirations, and experi ences of Nigerians themselves. Laura Fair focuses Akyeampong Zanzibar, using sports as a lens by which to see how men within a colonial setting shaped an independent national identity and gained political agency. Fair argues that 6 The International Journal of African Historical Studies , 35. 1, Special Issue: Leisure in African History (2002): 1 16, 2. Also T. O. Ranger, Dan ce and Society in Eastern Africa, 1890 1970: The Beni Ngoma (London: some of the realities of The same applies for Nigeria, as this dissertation will show.
33 pastimes and politics are not mutually dis tinct categories; they are, in fact, intimately connected and cannot be separated. 7 Moreover, she demonstrates that although the colonial administrators wrote the rules of games and brought them to Africa, they had no control over how Africans played the g ame or the meanings men assigned to sports. 8 In this sense Fair takes the connection between sport and politics a step further and shows how this emerging discourse also influenced concepts of masculinity in Zanzibar . Sport was an important site for men to assert their manliness and in turn , of how people under colonial rule negotiated room to assert their own ideas and values. Similarly, in his analysis of boxing in South Af rica, Tyler Fleming demonstrates how people living under colonial rule used the sport to gain autonomy over their own Boxing was believed to promote ideals of civility, dis cipline, respectability, independence, and self defense, all considered necessary by many in order for Africans 9 The approach advocated by Fair and Fleming makes it possible to access the ways in which Nigerians utilized boxing to shape a unique political identity separate from that imposed by colonial rule and shaped concepts of masculinity and, more specifically, the model male citizen. Boxing for 7 Laura Fair, Pastimes and Politics: Culture, Community, and Identity in Post Abolition Urban Zanzibar, 1890 1945 (Athens: Ohio University Pres s, 2001), especially chapter five. For example, men would get together at the latest football matches and discuss and argue sports. But their conversations would also include political debates and economic considerations. Leisure pursuits, argues Fair, pr ovided an acceptable arena to challenge the existing social order. 8 Africa: Journal of the International African Institute , 67. 2 (1997): 224 251. 9 Flemi
34 Nigerians created a space through which p eople c ould participate in a dis course about the attributes of the ideal male citizen needed to creat e a strong, healthy state. As this study will examine boxing within a specific urban area Lagos -Phyllis lle is particularly useful. Martin focuses on sports to explore the connection between leisure and colonial urban development. In this manner, she presents sport as a multifaceted window through which the historian may view litical life . 10 It was in the city that people felt colonial power most intensely, and it was in the city that these same people most visibly contested that power . The present work will better understand the connection s between leisure, politics, and boxing in Lagos. There are some key similarities between the two cities: Brazzaville and Lagos were both economic and political centers for their respective colonies. In addition, d ebates over football in newspapers reflect ed larger concerns i n Brazzaville, a phenomenon echoed in Lagos , where social, political, and sports worlds were intertwined, particularly after World War II. This study seeks to adapt the approaches described above to better understand and elucidate the role that boxing played in the development of Nigeria as a nation and the shaping of a Nigerian identity on both the domestic and international stage. Perhaps m ore importantly, this study seeks to build on the awareness that these studies have generated about the contributions that the nations of African have made not only within their own states but to the wider world. It is my hope that a study on the connectio n 10 Phyllis Martin, Leisure and Society in Colonial Brazzaville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 99.
35 between sports, politics, and masculinity in Nigeria will further the integration of African history into the existing global history. Boxing as Nigerian History Nigeria was not alone in Africa in adopting boxing, but the social, political, and economic circumstances gives the development and use of the sport there a unique flavor. While the approaches described above may be adapted to a study about boxing in Niger ia, it is not possible to apply an argument about boxing elsewhere in Africa to the situation in Lagos. The specific role that boxing played in Nigerian politics and gender as the colony moved along its path towards independence evidences the need to consi der each nation separately. The unique colonial histories, locations, and role on the international scene of each state guided how they understood and adapted sports. It is necessary to recognize the agency that the people of each African state had in the tools they adopted to shape a political voice and identity. There have been f ive works published over the last 25 years that deal with the history of boxing in particular African nations, all of which focus on the time period prior to World War II. 11 Each has brought important insight into how boxing can be a beneficial lens with which to view colonialism, but it is not possible to apply their analysis of boxing to the particular circumstances of Nigeria wholly . Two of these studies concern the white settle r colony of Southern Rhodesia, and because Nigeria 11 in International Journal of African Historical Studies 35 (2002): 18 The Politics of Gender and Class in the Creation of African Co mmunities, Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1931 1957 Boxing in Accra: A Sport is Taking Root (1920 The International Journal of the History of Sport , 28:15 (2011), 2142 2158.
36 was not such a colony, the practice and development of boxing in Nigeria differ dramatically since racial concerns were not paramount . Noting that boxing was a British cultural transplant, the other studie s concerning boxing in African nations look for precolonial African sport equivalents in order to better explain why people flocked to a foreign cultural import. For example, Emmanuel Akyeampong has trace d the origins of boxing to the earlier practice of G hanaian wrestling to show that on e flowed into the other because of the similarities involved. 12 The transition , as viewed by Akyeampong, was smooth , as boxing replaced wre stling without much difficulty because it represented a continuation and adaptation o f precolonial wrestling , preserving the institutions of the wrestling while adapting to the changing colonial situation. 13 While argument fits within the context of colonial Ghana, circumstances in Nigeria did not permit such a neat and tidy transition. Consequently, it is not possible to make a universal argument about sports, and more specifically about the transition from wrestl ing to boxing . 14 In fact, unlike boxing in Ghana, boxing in Nigeria was not a popular enterprise for Nigerians until the interwar years, nearly 30 years after colonial rule was established . While wrestling w as (and still is) an established sport in Nigeria, boxing was not intended to replace wrestling as administrators tried to do in the Ghanaian case. Amateur boxing in Niger ia was 12 13 Ibid. 14 Mangan (eds). Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History (New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1987) . Some gro ups, like the Edo, saw boxing as the European version of wrestling into the 1990s. However, during the colonial period, the majority of peoples that came to Lagos did not see boxing as similar to wrestling gos, June 2012.
37 introduced partly as a colonial response to urbanization, fears of Nigerian detribalization, and the increa se of urban juvenile delinquency. Officials believed that boxing would assist in the integration of European ideals of discipline and help troubled youth become useful members of society. Boxing was not established to reform or reshape wrestling. In fact, the word for boxing i n Yoruba is boxing, while the word for wresting is gÃdÃgbÃ² . It was truly an urban phenomenon disconnected from indigenous traditions. Rather than presuming that a development that occurred in one colonial nation also occurred identically in Nigeria, it is essential to listen to the voices of Nigerians themselves as they explain, debate, and define boxing in newspapers and oral interviews. The immediate assumption that boxing is either a colonial influence or a pre colonial practice robs Nigerians living und er colonial rule of any agency to shape their own experiences and lives. Boxers fought for various reasons, and by widening the scope of analysis we can see the myriad ways that colonialism, urbanization, sporting traditions, British sporting cultures, ide als of modernity, needs for cash, ideas of fame, anger at parental authority , or learning how to protect oneself in a dangerous city Nigeria also represents a unique case because it is the only African nation to pro duce a world boxing champion prior to the end of colonialism. Akyeampong argues that Afro American Heavyweight Champion boxers like Jack Johnson and Joe Louis were central figures of the Black Atlantic, shaping ideas of masculinity and power in colonial Gh ana. 15 This study on boxing in Nigeria, however, demonstrates that Nigerian 15 Aky
38 boxers also significantly influenced perce ptions of black bodies in the Black Atlantic . It was not solely American or British boxers who stood as archetypes for the modern man and c hallenged stereotypes, but also Nigerian boxers. Looking at the unique circumstances that influenced Nigerian boxers also demonstrates how Nigeria, more so than any other African nation, participated in international discussions about race, gender, and the place of colonial peoples within the empire through the boxing ring . 16 While it is necessary to recognize the circumstances that made boxing and its uses in Nigeria different from any other nation, it is also important not to carry this emphasis to an ex particularities with the recognition tha t some of those particularities were connected to or shaped by world wide events that effected nearly every African state. This is particularly the case with World War II . While participation and responses different among the African nations, this event influenced changes in each. This point is particularly significant within the context of colonization and the shift to independence. As Frederick Cooper notes, decolonization was not a tidy or periodical break in African history and treating it as such hides as much as it reveals. 17 An analysis of boxing in Nigeria demonstrates that World War II actually represents a truer epochal break that radically transformed colonial society. Thus, by examining boxing within a specific Nigerian context, I will attempt to point to events and developments that influenced and responded to situations within the individual nation, as well as those that impacted Nigeria and the othe r states of the continent collectively. 16 Gilroy, Black Atlantic. 17 See Frederick Cooper, Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 4.
39 Boxing and Masculinity cluster of norms, values, and behavioral patterns expressing explicit or implicit expectations of how men should a 18 M asculinity is a cultural and historical concept, whose meanings are continually contested and shaped through existing power relations as well as larger socioeconomic, cultural, and religious change s . As Craig Heron Masculinity is best seen as a complex expression of male practices, consciousness, a nd cultural representation deve loped in specific contexts in constant interaction with subjects gendered as female and with 19 Using these des criptions, this dissertation argues that the growth of boxing was one such cultural representation of male expression that developed in the context of post WWII Africa, complete with its own cluster of norms, behaviors, and values. Masculinity is different, but not altogether divorced from, manhood. While masculinity is more abstract, manhood refers to the physiological . W hile Lindsay and Miescher see adulthood as one of the prime ways men exhibited manhood , this study adds to this idea by showing how young men adapted this to urban areas and used their bodies to express their own ideals of manhood , with attributes such as power, aggression, courage, and muscles , which were the city . It is important to remember that masculinity and femininity for that matter is 18 Miescher and Lindsay, Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2003), 4. 19 International Labor and Working Class History 69: Working Class Subjectivities and Sexualities (Spring, 2006), pp. 6 34, 7.
40 not merely constructed but also produced. 20 Boxing allows us to see several ways that Nigerian men expressed, performed, and displayed their manhood, muscles, and masculinity in the public sphere . Box ing in Nigeria as a unit of historical analysis also sheds light on other forms of masculinity not visible through the prism of labor. A s Kristin Mann has shown, gender relations and masculinity in Lagos , especially among the elite and educated, had experienced a period of transition starting in the early 1900s. 21 Y et Nigeria in the post World War II era , as Lisa Lindsey notes, saw some of the m ost dramatic changes within these spheres . 22 Lindsey has argued that masculinity in postwar Nigeria was h eavily tied up with European conceptions of the , something foreign to Yoruba men since before colonialism women were known for their ability to make money, trade, and contribute to the family . After the war, Nigerian men demanded For Lindsay, gender (and the male breadwinner) was as much performative as it was flexible : particular ways, working with existing masculinities and adapting foreign ones. 23 Furthermore, m en began to define their manhood, as Carolyn Brown also noticed, through wage labor and their ability to finance social obligations and kin patronage . 24 In 20 Miescher and Lindsay, Men and Masculinities, 7. 21 Kristin Mann, Marrying Well: Marriage, Status and Social Change Among the Educated Elite in Lagos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). 22 Lisa Lindsay, Putting the Family on Track: Gender and Dome stic Life on the Colonial Nigerian Railway (Unpublished dissertation, University of Michigan, 1996). 23 Lisa A. Lindsay, Working with Gender : Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria ( Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 105 125. 24 Lindsay, Working with Gender ; and Carolyn A. Brown, We Were All Slaves: African Miners, Culture, And Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003).
41 all three cases, Mann, Lindsey, and Brown focus their studies on the elite and middle class populations of urban Lagos or Enugu, whose access to money, education, and jobs made them the minority in Nigerian cities . Wh ile the existing scholarship points to a conclusive form of Nigerian Masculinity, it focusses on the employed, married population, and it is undeniable that their experience in the colonial system differed greatly from those who gravitated towards and participated in boxing : employed bachelors, the unemployed , and unmarried young men and boys . Lindsay notes that even by 1950 , only 15 wage earning population (30,554 wage earners ) were engaged in some form of railway labor. 25 With a population, and over 67% of the population were be low the age of 30. 26 The employed access to jobs, money, and patronage certainly gave them a special space to shape what they believed were the ideals of modern urban males. But they were not the only ones trying to express their masculinity or attain manhood in t he city. What did the rest do ? How did those without a British education, colonial civil service jobs, or salaried labor define and shape their masculinity ? This study uses boxing to shed light on the masculine code employed by this often overlooked popula tion. It suggests that boxing provided a voice to some of the most marginalized p eople in the city ( the unemployed, juvenile delinquents, young dependent men) and allowed them both an expression of manhood as well as a means for social mobility. Their reje ction of elite 25 . . . to Think of Home'? Masculinity and Domestic Life on the Nigerian Railway, c.1940 The Journal of African History , 39. 3 (1998), 442.; Lindsay, Working with Gender , Introduction. 26 Akin Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , (London: University of London Press, 1969), 260.
42 and middle class masculinity, of which the majority of Lagosians did not ascribe to or could claim due to lack of social connections and jobs , meant that urban masculinity was more multifaceted than previously thought. Boxing allows us to see the unique way that these young Nigerians expressed their manhood in the urban city. Although Lindsey focuses her study on a small segment of the population, she does look at the role of sport in the gendering of the Nigerian and La gosian public sphere into a masculine space. 27 This space permitted the building of patronage relationships through trade organizations, ethnic associations , and also through As Lindsey argues em access to certain types of leisure activities, which in turn facilitated links to public and 28 Yet, more than being an avenue for building political and public ne their national and work based communities while forming part of a distinct masculine public 29 This present work builds on this insight to show that the gendering of public space as male was also a product of the masculinities that emerged from t he boxing ring s: the bachelor subculture of masculinity and Muscular Citizenship , which relied heavily on the display of maleness in the public sphere . I define Muscular Citizenship as the melding of nationalism with manhood, creating an expectation that proper citizens had to be, first and foremost, healthy men 27 Lindsay, Working with Gender. 28 Leisure in U rban Africa (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003), 105 124. 29 Ibid.
43 with outstanding character and discipline. T he post WWII changes in Lagos meant that a significant segment of the population become young males focused on making money and achieving upward social mobility, and they influenced the gendering of public space, which became male centric, based on physicality and masculine aggression. This new, urban culture encouraged, and was encouraged by, the growing popularity of cowboy movies, bars and nightclubs, edgy music, a new type of market literature (Onitsha Literature or chapbooks) that motivated a can do attitude , and especially for this study, sport and sports clubs . I arg ue that because boxing was an important feature of the growing link between masculinity, nationalism, and health, it represents an important lens through which to examine the emergence of a new urban masculinity that I call Muscular Citizenship. Underpinni ng Muscular Citizenship was the bachelor subculture of masculinity which emerged out of the experiences of migrant youth and young men in urban Lagos. Bachelorhood is, as Craig Heron points out, one aspect of the childhood bachelorhood breadwinner li fe cycle. 30 B efore a man embraced the breadwinner ideal, boys home, school, street, work place, and pleasure site. 31 It was through the centrality of the body that youth and working class men expressed their pride, met social demands, and measure d achievement in sports and work. 32 Youth subcultures, according to Katie Mooney, can be defined as small assemblies, usually 30 31 Ibid, 6 7. 32 Ibid.
44 of interests which serve to unify the members whilst simultaneously differentiating them from wider and usually more 'mainstream' 33 Age and generational concerns unite and play a role in the composition of the membership. 34 The intense econom ic competition, crowded living conditions, poverty, and growing sports culture of the post WWII colonial city created the conditions for the development of a bachelor subculture of boxing based on the aggressive displays of violence and sporting prowess of the sport which in turn impacted youthful Movement by Donald Faulkner and his promotion of amateur boxing in his spare time , an initiative directed at the unemployed and unmarried youth flooding Lagos, proved to proper citizens AND men an argu ment which became foundational for Muscular Citizenship. 35 Boxing became an important tool by which to make citizens and men, on which the success of the nation depended. It is important to make the distinction that a lthough the bachelor subculture was the backbone of Muscular Citizenship, not all who ascribed to Muscular Citizenship were in fact bachelors. This subculture of boxing challenged and imitated oth er Nigerian masculinities while impacting the ideals of Muscular Citizenship. 33 Mooney, Katie , Ducktails, Flick Knives and Pugnacity': Subcultural and Hegemonic Masculini ties in South Africa, 1948 Journal of Southern African Studies , 24. 4, Special Issue on Masculinities in Southern Africa (Dec., 1998), 755. 34 Ibid. 35 Nigerian Daily Times (henceforth NDT ) April 18, 1950.
4 5 Chapter Descriptions Chapter 2 discusses the beginnings of the urban sporting culture in Lagos that adopted boxing after World War II . This happened because of the transfer of several important cultural factors into Nigerian society : The British Public Schoolboy culture of sport and education, ideals of Tropical Medicine and the strong sporting male body, and a new wave of colonial administrators, expatriates, and missionary/educators that were also enthusiastic sportsmen and sportswomen. I argue that in order to understand the post WWII adoption of boxing in Nigeria, one must understand the British sporting culture that came along with colonial administrators to the colonies. The ideals and ethos of sport were easily adapted and adopted b y Nigerians because sport itself was not novel to Nigeria or Nigerians, just the specific British versions. The British came to Nigeria with conceptions of sport, health, and character that took time to disseminate to Nigerians. The most important site of this transfer during the interwar period was in Nigerian schools. The British tried to implant their ideals of the masculine body onto Nigerian males , but their attempts were met with ambivalence and in most cases rejection. Boxing failed to catch on as a popular sport for general audiences during this time, but as C hapter 2 argues, the seeds from British sporting culture were planted . Th e econom ic and social circumstances of Lagos during this time created an after the war. Chapter 3 examines two Nigerian sportsmen , newspaper entrepreneur and future President Nnamdi exigencies of the Great Depression paved the way for the establi shment and growth of boxing in colonial Nigeria. Specifically, it suggests that 1936 was a turning point for boxing in the colony for three reasons. First, newspapers coverage of boxing increased
46 West African Pilot , which started c irculation in 1937 and promoted boxing as a worthwhile sport for Nigerian s . Second, at this time Reggie Williams emerged as the example of the well shaped, strong men that boxing produced, which encouraged other Nigerians to take up the sport. Third, the i ntercolonial tournament against the Gold Coast in 1938 focused popular attention and linked boxing to the strength and progress of Nigeria as a nation. The efforts of Azikiwe and Williams brought the seeds planted by the British, as discussed in Chapter 2 , to fruition. The cultural issues of character, sportsmanship, and health came together in the sport of boxing for a general audience. Lastly, the chapter looks at how th ese connection s were carried over during WWII, focusing particularly on the way boxing was promoted during the war and how the link was forged between the sport and national pride. Chapter 4 , Chapter 5 , and Chapter 6 detail the different ways that the Second World War impacted colonial Lagos and opened a space for the sport of boxing to thrive and ultimately to becom e the representative sport for the articulation and celebration of nationalism. Chapter 4 looks at the immediate postwar situation in Lagos, and how the war ushered in a new era for boxing in the colony along with a unique style of boxing that was indeed an important watershed moment in colonial Nigeria, the impact of which should not b e underestimated. Postwar Lagos melded together the prewar ideas of sport, health, and character with the experiences of war and subsequently saw the creation of professional boxing in the colony. This shift in boxing mirrors larger changes within Lagosian society prompted by the influx of male migrants and the return of soldiers who had participated in a masculine, sporting culture. This chapter discusses
47 the gendering of public space as male centric and the development of a masculine urban culture infused by new popular entertainment such as films and novels, as previously mentioned. It also discusses the development of the professional boxing sport, a process marked by the creation of a board of control in Nigeria. In this analysis, boxing represents both a lens by which to examine the intersection of masculinity, nationalism, and health and the popular phenomenon that served to bring these components together. The product of this junction was a new urban masculinity that I While professional boxing found near immediate success after WWII, amateur boxing, with its focus on the love of the sport, sportsmanship, and no monetary prizes, was slower in developing as a strong, popular movement . Chapter 5 analyzes the growth of amateur boxing in Lagos and the concurrent emergence of a bachelor subculture of masculinity that at times meshed with, and at other time s rejected, the Muscular Citizenship created through professional boxing. This chapter examines the development of amat eur boxing through the figure of Donald Faulkner, the first colonial Social Welfare Officer in West Africa, who helped to establish the British Club Movement in Nigeria to reform juvenile delinquents. This movement used amateur boxing as a way t instrumental in the creation of a bachelor subculture of boxing that was further encouraged by cultural i and America. This bachelor subculture of boxing both challenged and imitated elite
48 Nigerian masculinities by praising toughness, strength, style, and courage and using boxing to try to circumvent traditional avenues to the accumulation of resources. Chapter 6 looks at an important aspect of the popularization of boxing in Lagos and the formation of a Nigerian identity: the visible success of Nigerian boxers in England as both role models and proje argues that this success occurred due to the economic connection between Liverpool, England and Lagos, the passing of the British Nationality Act in June of 1948 that loosened travel restrictions for person s born in the Empire, and the victory of Dick Turpin, a British born Black, who shattered the British colour bar on boxing titles. These events encouraged Nigerians to travel and fight for Empire Titles, and they opened the door for Liverpudlian Peter Bana sko as a manager and trainer. The chapter then looks at the impact that Nigerian boxers had on the city of Liverpool and how that success radiated through the newspaper reports in Lagos and Nigeria at large, instilling an awareness of place on t he international stage. Looking at this aspect of Nigerian boxing history allows one to see its importance to independence, masculinity, and national identity. Chapter 7 subsequent debate that took place in Lagos over the desirability of boxing in the colony. The discussion printed by newspaper commenters about boxing underscored a larger discourse about the social and political goals of Nigeria to be cultivating men, shaping ideal Nigerian cit izens, and establishing the independent nation in the international eye. When read contextually, apprehension about boxing was in part a response to larger social issues such as the Kano Riots in 1953, the breakdown of the 1950 MacPherson
49 Constitution, and the improper education of young boys who would one day control the nation. Taken together, this chapter suggests that the debate about the legitimacy of nation and ideal masculine citizens as it prepared first for self government and later for full independence. Chapter 8 ues that Bassey figured centrally in the conceptualization of Nigeria as a nation ready for independence and equal to others on the world stage. To understand the importance of this moment in Nigerian history, however, we must take a step back and put the victory into context. As discussed in Chapter 7 , people were unsure of the benefit of boxing for Bassey won the British Empire Featherwe ight Title just two years later , a n d then claimed the World Featherweight Title in 1957 , it became clear that boxing would delinq uents into proper men needed to shape and guide an emerging nation. In addition, his victories encouraged the evolution of masculinity from the Muscular Citizenship described in Chapter 4 Bassey became th e World Featherweight champion in 1957, the same year as the , reinforced the perceived good that bo x
50 mirrored the growing perception that the nation was ready for independence and had Boxing provides a window into the development of a national Nigerian identity during the last years of colonialism, the euphoria and anxiety people felt about independence, and efforts required to create a nation. Moreover, boxing as a unit of historical analysis offer access to a better understanding of urban living: how people interacted, worked, played, and grappled with dramatic changes hap pening around them. It sheds light on the growth of a bachelor subculture in response to rapid urban growth that, in turn, spawned the development of alternate yet complimentary forms of masculinity and manliness. Finally, boxing became a n arena through wh ich Nigeria emerged on the world scene. This dissertation seeks to highlight the important role that the thousands of Nigerian boxers who entered rings in Lagos and beyond in the first half of the twentieth century played in the history of Nigeria, the Bri tish Empire , and the Black Atlantic. Their recorded stories and experiences as well as those of the audience who watched, listened, and read about boxing matches with nervous anticipation reveal a more complex understanding of multiple levels of African an d Nigerian history.
51 CHAPTER 2 LAGOS, SCHOOLING, AND MANLINESS BEFORE WORLD WAR TWO Boxing came to Nigeria after the First World War , but it took almost three decades of work by Nigerian and British sporting fans to make boxing a legitimate enterprise that was popular and useful for Nigerians in colonial society. Unlike the Gold Coast, present day Ghana, where boxing grafted easily onto indigenous ideals of masculinity and social standing, Nigerians were not quick to take to boxing. 1 In fact, many Nigerians throughout the time period of thi s study saw boxing as nothing more than a brutal sport with little to no social value. 2 Although the British ha d been present in Lagos since the mid nineteenth century , the promotion and expansion of sport and sporting facilities was slow to develop beyond horse racing and cricket for Europeans, and European football (soccer) for Nigerians before WWII . This space between the late 19 50s begs several questions. Why did it take so long for boxing to gain prominence in Nigeria while it took hold rather quickly in the Gold Coast , especial ly if, as argued by other scholars, boxing was simply adopted as an extension of indigenous wrestling culture ? What changes occurred under colonial rule during the twentieth century that made boxing more appealing for young men to engage in? 1 in The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 35:1 (2002): 39 60. 2 Interview with Olu Moses, Lagos, Nigeria, Ibadan, Nigeria, July 2012. Also see Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Box ing (London: T. Nelson, 1963).
52 This chapter focuses on the changing social and educational landscape of Lagos towards the end of the interwar period , which created a space for boxing to be immensely popular in the post WWII era. This chapter begins with a brief introduction of the topography and pop ula tion of Lagos and looks at British city planning of Lagos Island after annexation in 1861. It then moves onto an overview of the British athletic schoolboy culture , which emphasized , that it had on the sel ection of colonial administrators for tropical Africa, especially those that came to Nigeria and Lagos. This brief introduction to British sporting culture helps to understand the language and ethos of sport in Nigeria throughout the colonial period, as we ll as the fascination of British and elite Nigerians with character development through sports in school. It was through schools that British sporting culture was primarily transmitted to colonial subjects, along with British attitudes about health, sport, and the European body. During this period, t hese ideals were placed onto African bodies, and through schooling and sport the ethos of health and character became paramount to the colonial government and missionary schooling of Nigerians. The school system to foster character and discipline, while the relocation of Nigerians was part of sanitizing the island. Although boxing did not become popular during this time period, it is important to understand these ideas and currents that circulated in Lagos before WWII, as they formed the backbone of sporting institutions in the country generally, and after 1936, boxing in particular ( see Chapter 3 ).
53 Growth of Lagos and British Presence During t he nineteenth century, Lagos was the principle slave port of the Bight of Benin. 3 It was a fishing village settled by migrant peoples during the sixteenth century, and through intermarriage, trade, and warfare, the community eventually was more permanently established on the northwestern point of the island. 4 The expanding slave trade dramatically changed the size and nature of the island. As several scholars have noted, while slavery continued into the mid nineteenth century , the desire of the British to s tamp out the slave trade in the region, as well as the allure of profit from legal trade , led to the British annexing the city of Lagos in 1861. 5 By the mid 1850s, refugees, mostly slaves from the Fulani Jihad of 1804 and the various Yoruba Wars of the ni neteenth century, swelled the population of Lagos with a motley community of Y oruba, Hausa , and Igbo. 6 The former slaves began taking refuge in Lagos because of its distance from the wars and the promise of freedom offered by the British, but also the simple defensibility of the island meant it would be harder to be recaptured. 7 As Kristin Mann argues, the rapid population growth after the Yoruba wars flooded Lagos with 3 Kristin Mann, Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760 1900 . (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), 4. 4 For a more detailed look at the creation of the Lagos before and shortly after British annexatio n, see Mann, Slavery, 14 15. Also Liora Bigon, A History of Urban Planning in Two West African Colonial Capitals , (Lewsiton: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009), and Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 238 311. 5 See Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 238 243, Mann, Slavery , 100 107, Bigon, A History of Urban Planning, 14, and Kristin Mann, Marrying Well: Marriage, Status, and Social Change Among the Educated Elite in Colonial Lagos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985 ), 11 17. 6 See Mabogunje, Urbanizat ion in Nigeria, 243. Nineteenth Century n Ade Adefuye, Babtunde Agiri, and Jide Osuntokun (eds.), History of the Peoples of Lagos State (Lagos: Lantern Books, 1987), 142 143. The completion of the railroad linki ng Lagos to the east in Port Harcourt (through Kaduna) in 1931 facilitated the growth of Igbo populations in Lagos from roughly 1600 in 1921, to over 5000 in 1931, and over 25000 in 1950. Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 263 4. 7 Mabogunje, Urbanizati on in Nigeria , 238 243, and 142 143.
54 the original inhabitants. 8 She also notes that Lagos was unlike other colonial Yoruba towns and cities in Nigeria because its inhabitants entered into the new colonial economy as traders, not producers. 9 Lagos at first referred to the small island in the Lagos Lagoon that spanned one and half mil es from north to south and just over three miles from the east to west. 10 At the start of British colonial rule, Lagos was a small fishing village that was home to roughly 25,000 people in 1866, covering roughly 1.55 square miles of the island. 11 By the turn of the twentieth century, Lagos was still a relatively small island with a small local population of approximately 40,000. 12 Unlike other Yoruba towns nearby, Lagos was a polyglot population, drawing migrants since the mid nineteenth century . 13 G rowth in tr ade leading up to World War One fueled a new massive wave of migration from the hinterland, and by 1911 there were over 72,000 residents, nearly doubling the population in a decade . 14 By then, Lagos had overgrown its island and metropolitan 8 Mann, Marrying Well, 17. Those Yoruba or other Nigerians that came to Lagos and were not part of the lineage of the ruling Obas were considered strangers, but the demarcation was fluid. Many traders or others that came to Lagos through marriage and wealth were able to either join existing lineages of power on the island or create their own. 9 Ibid., 16. 10 in the 18 th century. Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 238 245. 11 Ayodeji Olukoju, The "Liverpool" of West Africa: The Dynamics and Impact of Maritime Trade in Lagos, 1900 1950 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2004), 40. Mann, Marrying Well , 11 17. 12 Ibid. 13 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 47. 14 Ibid.
55 Lagos now consis ted of Iddo Island to the west and the former communities of Ebute Metta and Apapa on the mainland, a total of eighteen square miles. 15 The British wanted to extend legitimate commerce into the interior as well as end the slave trade , and found an opportuni ty to extend their influence into the interior when they brokered a peace treaty to end the Yoruba Civil Wars of 1877 86. 16 With the the Yoruban Protectorate. As Mab ogunje notes, by focusing multiple existing trade routes through Lagos, the growth of export trade between 1862 and 1900 grew fourteen times, while imports also increased ten times over the same period. 17 Lagos grew in importance again in 1906 when the city was fused with the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria , creating the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria with Lagos as its capital. 18 The expansion and consolidation of British rule over much of Northern Nigeria, facilitated by the completion of sever al railroads to Ibadan (1885), Abeokuta (1889), and Kano (1912), led to the amalgamation of the Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria into one colony, again with Lagos as the capital, in 1914. 19 Despite this, the British population in Lagos remaine d rather small, just over 250 at the end of the 15 Ibid. and Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 256 259. 16 Olukoju, The "Liverpool" of West Africa , 1. The Yoruba War intensified slave trading, but also sent thousands of former slaves fleeing the area, many of whom settled in Lagos to escape the fighting. See The Journal of A frican History , 46:3 (2005): 379 Failed Ransom Negotiations in West Africa, 1730 The Journal of African History , 53 (2012): 25 44 and Mann, Marrying Well , 11 17. 17 See Mabogunj e, Urbanization in Nigeria , 246. Exports grew from Â£62,000 to Â£885,000 while imports grew from Â£78,000 to Â£830,000. 18 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 14 ; and Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 248 249. 19 Ibid., 14 16. Lagos would remain the capital of Nigeria until 1991 when it was moved to its current location at Abuja.
56 nineteenth century, meaning the demand for labor in the growing economy needed to be filled by Nigerians , a trend that continued throughout the colonial period . 20 The growth of the city as a trade center, repl ete with docks, wharfs, roads, and railways, meant a continual search for labor by the British. As Saheed Aderinto notes, infrastructural development of Lagos as men were needed as manual laborers in a variety of works. 21 By 1920, infrastructure in terms of roads, railroads, and the port had dramatically increased, leading to an influx of Nigerians and British to Lagos. As business grew, so did the city. 22 At that time, Lagos was the largest single 23 As such, the promise of employment opportunities in Lagos exerted a strong pull for Nigerians from the hinterland , where work wa s increasingly scarce . 24 By the early to mid 1920s, the community had grown beyond the island , and to meet the need for housing for British officials the swampy areas of two other nearby islands, Ikoyi and Victoria, were drained and developed as the princip le European area s. 25 Even these new, segregated neighborhoods could not compensate for the rapid population growth. In 1921 there were roughly 99,690 persons, and by 1931 the 20 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning, 56. 21 Aderinto, Saheed, When Sex Threatened the State (University of Illinois Press, 2014), (20 September 20 15), 28. Also Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 249 252. 22 Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 251. 23 Ibid., 253. 24 Ibid., 261. 25 Abosede George, Making Modern Girls: A History of Childhood, Labor, and Social Development in Colonial Lagos (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014), 22. And Bigon, A History of Urban Planning, 152.
57 population had risen to well over 126,000, a growth of 27% over the decade. 26 The g overnment census projected actual population was actually much larger, and recorded closer to 178,000 by 1935. 27 Segregation of Europeans was a major factor in the against unsanitary urban conditions in Africa. 28 As the older Lagos neighborhoods of Yab a and Apapa grew 98%, and Surul ere and Ebute Metta over 68% over the same decade. 29 So, b y the early 1900s, Lagos had five distinct yet permeable neighborhoods. The first was Isale Eko, which w Just to the south of Isale Eko was Olowogbowo, an area granted to Saro (freed slaves) immigrants. 30 their schooling and conversi on to Christianity in the schools of Sierra Leone, which allowed many to staff the newly created colonial administration bureaucracy in the late nineteenth century . 31 They were in a better position to take advantage of the new opportunities created by legit imate commerce, property rights, and the rise of the 26 NAI COMCOL 1 739 Vol 1 (paperwork leading up to) and Vol 2 (the actual stats) Census 1931 Lagos Colony Population and Statistics 27 Letter of J. Cauchi, Lagos Medical Officer, COMCOL 1 739 Vol 1 (paperwork leading up to) and Vol 2 (the actual stats) Census 1931 Lagos Colony Population and Statistics 28 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 145 153. 29 NAI COMCOL 1 739 Vol 1 (paperwork leading up to) and Vol 2 (the actual stats) Census 1931 Lagos Colony Population and Statistics 30 The Saro people were migrants from mostly Sierra Leone that had been once themselves been slaves but of Yoruba or Nigerian origin. They were mostly sold throu gh Lagos in the early part of the nineteenth century, and then captured by slave squadrons patrolling West Africa. Once recaptured from slave vessels, they would be taken to Freetown and educated, with many becoming ministers and Christians. When the Briti sh took over Lagos, Saro people found steady employment as clerks, teachers, and officials. George, Making Modern Girls, 23. The Saro population first came to Lagos starting approximately in 1852, when the first Yoruba emigrants from Sierra Leone came back , all of whom were 143. 31 Mann, Marrying Well , 17 18.
58 colonial state. 32 Just to the east was the Marina section of town, which became the economic headquarters and business district where one found the banks, customs offices, warehouses, and wharfs. 33 The Marina also was home to British colonial officials before the reclamation of Ikoyi and Victoria Island, as well as the various churches and their mission schools. 34 Further east was the Portuguese section or Popo Town , which became an enclave for form er Brazilian slaves, known locally as Amaro, who like the Saro, descended from Nigerians taken into slavery. 35 Lastly, to the far east of the island, where roughly 70% of the population lived, were the areas known as Epetedo, Lafaji, and Oke Suna. These nei ghborhoods were home to people who had once migrated from the northern hinterland of Lagos, from places like Abeokuta, Ibadan, and Ijebu , usually without the proper connections or kinship relations to secure land in Isale Eko. 36 At the turn o f the century, therefore, while the ethnic composition of Lagos was more than 50% Yoruba, of which more than 8 dialects of Yoruba were spoken , Lagos consisted of a heterogeneous population of indigenous Yoruba, immigrant populations 32 Mann, Marrying Well Annexation of Lagos, 186 Journal of Economic History, 40 (1980). 33 George, Making Modern Girls, 23. Also Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 47. 34 The various churches included Wesleyan, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and C.M.S. George, Making Modern Girls, 24. 35 Mann, Marrying well, 16. There were an estimated 3000 Amaro in Lagos in 1866. Through trade, intermarriage, and patron client relationships, Amaro and Saro integrated into Lagosian society, and their shared heritage became less important by the turn of the century. 36 G eorge, Making Modern Girls, 24.
59 (Saro and Amaro ), British, and other N igerians living in distinct urban areas within the city. 37 Even f rom 1861 before it became the official capital , the British used Lagos as the seat of government and trade in the region and as the base from which they extended their influence into the Yoru ba hinterland to the north. Lagos Island was a dangerous place for Europeans to live because of its poor water drainage and low elevation, making it susceptible to diseases such as frequent outbreaks of malaria. 38 As own of Lagos is certainly one of the most 39 Many Europeans shared the image of Lagos as an unhealthy and dangerous place for Europeans as set out by Burton, and in fact the West Coast of Africa was called th noted, the death rate of Europeans in the nineteenth century in Lag o s was five to ten times the national rate in England, allowing Saro and Amaro immigrants to fill positions in the colonial administration due to a la ck of British settlers . 40 Burton felt that in order to 41 Even so 37 Historical Dimensions in Urban and Sub found in Ade Adefuye, Babtunde Agiri, and Jide Osuntokun (eds.), History of the Peoples of Lagos State (Lagos: Lantern Boo ks, 1987), 168 169. The majority dialects of Yoruba listed by Akere include Awori, Egba, Oyo, Ife 38 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 14. Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria , 258 259. 39 Sir Richard Burton, Wanderin gs in Africa V.2 (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1863), 240. 40 Mann, Marrying Well , 15. Mann shows that in England the death rate was roughly 7 per 1000, while in Lagos for young men in at was closer to 71 per 1000. 41 Sir Richard Burton, Wanderings in Africa V.2 (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1863), 241.
60 young and thriving place , would become a great city . 42 However, as late as the mid 1930s Lagos still had a reputation for uncleanliness and unsanitary conditions and was widely known as a dangerous place for Europeans . 43 . With the rapid growth of the population outlined above, space on the island was at a premium, and the growing congestion led to unsanitary conditions and epidemic disease. 44 The British on the island feared what they saw as the unsanitary actions and lifestyles of the Nigerian s and oth er non Europeans in their midst. Rather than settle on the mainland, which they deemed to be similarly infested with sickness and malaria and thus also too deadly for white settlement, the British decided to cordon off an area of the island and segregate t hemselves from the Nigerians. A similar strategy had been employed in other British colonies and Freetown in Sierra Leone and Accra in the Gold Coast. 45 With this goal in mind, t hey set out to drain the swamps around the island, and much of the urban planning that took place after 1900 had health and sanitation at its core, like the various Slum Clearance Schemes of the 1920s 40s. 46 The post WWI era saw a new generation of colonial administrator whose focus was on the health, hygiene, and safety of people, especially 42 Ibid., 235 241. 43 Bigon, A History of Urban Planning , 131 44 Ibid., 145. A.G. Hopkins argues that that the British conception of property rights, which the Yoruba had none, was one compelling reason for the intro duction of legitimate commerce. Doing so weakened the position of the Oba of Lagos, whose main source of wealth in the nineteenth century before British Marrying Well, 11 17. 45 Residential se gregation was a cheaper policy for colonial officials, especially when it came to city wide urban expenditures. It was much cheaper to focus that money on the European section of town. For a detailed look at the planning that went into colonial Lagos, see Bigon, A History of Urban Planning, especially chapter 2. 46 Ibid., 131.
61 the Europeans, of the city. Although there were only roughly 300 Europeans in Lagos 1901, that number grew to over 1200 by 1931. 47 Added to this was the increase in the Nigerian population of Lagos as migrants flooded the city in response to the growth of industry, trade, and shipping companies. 48 The rapidly growing Nigerian population heightened colonial fears of disease and overcrowding. Thus, colonial governments across British Africa supported segr egated spaces for Europeans and Africans, especially in urban landscapes where there was closer contact , because of the fear of disease transfer . Health was paramount, and developing healthy bodies that could survive was key. and Colonialism: The Cult of Imperial Sportsmanship The Imperial Administration that came to Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth century was predominately composed of men who had studied in the British Public School system. 49 Through the early twentieth century, th e British had developed a robust sporting culture centered on the values and importance of a healthy body as a prerequisite for a healthy mind. 50 Sport in school instilled the desired traits of responsibility, leadership, initiative, and integrity -all cen tral tenets of what the British 47 Akin Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria (London: University of London Press, 1969), 264. In 1931, British persons made up the majority of Europeans (1,053), with French (37), Germans (34), and Syrians/Lebanese (134). 48 As will be discussed below, the overall population of Lagos increased from 73,766 in 1901 to 230,256 in 1950. Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 262. 49 For a detailed look at the role of sport in British Public School s and its effects on British society and British imperialism, see J. A. Mangan, Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School: The Emergence and Consolidation of an Educational Ideology. (London: F. Cass., 2000), J. A. Mangan, A Sport Loving Soc iety: Victorian and Edwardian Middle Class England at Play (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006). J. A. Mangan, Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism: British Culture and Sport at Home and Abroad, 1700 1914 . London: F. Cass, 1988). 50 Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies , 15:4 (1983): 313 335.
62 into the students . 51 These men were seen as ideal candidates to run the empire , according to Lord Cromer : the system of education adopted at our [British] Public Schools . . . is of a nature to turn out a number of young men who are admirable agents in the ex 52 In fact, Sir Ralph Furse, the man in charge of recruiting for the position of Colonial Administrator or District Officer from 1910 to 1948, looked for young men with ath letic distinction from among the graduates of Public Schools because of his belief that they would be best prepared to rule the empire because they had been taught character through sport . 53 The young men who ventured into service around the British Empire were thus sporting men, active young men, endowed with good health, high character, and fair abilities 54 Historian Anthony Kirk Greene, himself a former colonial administrator in Bornu d with the stamp 51 Anthony Kirk Sport in Africa (New York: A fricana Pub. Co., 1987), 83. 52 Earl of Cromer, Modern Egypt Elite Imperial Administration: The Sudan Political Service and the British and the British Public School The Internatio nal Journal of African Historical Studies , 15:4 (1982): 672 673. 53 Kirk , 93. Kirk Greene describes him as the father of the colonial manner and see Robert Heussler, Yesterday's rulers: the making of the British colonial service (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1963), especially cha pters 3 and 4. And for the effect of Furse on a Nigerian Colonial Governor, see Robert Pierce, Sir Bernard Bourdillon: The Biography of a Twentieth Century Colonialist (Oxford: The Kensal Press, 1987), 5 19. 54 Ibid.
63 55 The ethos of sport that had been instilled in these administrators was then passed on , since they believed that through sport, colonial officials could teach Africans the proper skills and traits, and most importantly , cultivate proper character. Sport and the character building provided by sport beca me more important in colonial thinking in the interwar period , as concerns over health melded with concerns over bridging the cultural gap between British and Nigerian. Indeed , the majority of colonial administration, as well as missionaries, and businessm en , came from this sporting tradition and brought ideas about sport and character to Nigeria. Several , like Douglas J. Collister (Chapter 3 ), Jack Farnsworth (Chapter 5 ), and Donald Faulkner (Chapter 5 ) had a profound impact on boxing in Nigeria. The Briti measures to en sure that their bodies were in the best condition for surviving Nigeria. 56 The colonial climate was a continual concern for the colonial administrator and expatriate in L agos. Part of the reason that colonial administrators were chosen from the ranks of British college and university sporting athletes was the belief that they would be better leaders in the colonies if they were able to prove themselves on the sporting pitc h and fields , but another reason was that these men were perceived as 55 Kirk 84 and 85. As sport became a more important aspect of the collegiate experience, especially at the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities, sport was not only an acceptable tool for physical well being, but also shaping a strong moral character. The ex ample of Oxford and Cambridge were copied by other schools in Britain, including the emphasis on sport. The British believed that sport developed moral characteristics in young boys and adolescents that would ensure their successful transition into adultho od and prepare them for life. Through sport, young men could learn the valuable skills and traits like courage, team work, discipline, adherence to the rules, and 56 Speaking about eastern Nigeria, George Basd en noted that the West Coast of Africa, especially Among the Ibos of Nigeria , 35.
64 being in their peak physical condition, best suited for the health challenges of the African climate . 57 Many of those officials that came to Nigeria had been athletes in Britain. For example, in the province of Bornu in Northeast Nigeria, several District Officers in succession were former school athletes. T.E Letchworth, who became District Officer of Born u in Northeast Nigeria in 1920, was himself a former Cambridge rower. 58 D.G. Milne, who came to Bornu in the 1950s, was a lacrosse Blue, while Anthony Kirk Greene was a Blue in fives. 59 Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of Nigeria from 1919 to 1925, was also an av 60 Clifford, while in stamina became leg 61 It was reported in all the local newspapers, that Sir James Robertson, who became Governor of Nigeria in 1955, was an avid sportsman while at school at Oxford. 62 Furthermore, colonial administrator s and governors were known to promote sport in their territories. 57 Kirke 84 87. 58 Ibid., 101. 59 Oxford and Cambridge where the practice originated in the early to mid nineteenth century. Fives is a 60 Harry Gailey, Clifford: Imperial Proconsul . London: Rex Collings, Ltd., 1982. 9. 61 d sport an ardour to succeed in everything which he profound love for all sport, but especially football. Quote found in Lady Lovat Alice, The Life of S ir Frederick Weld: A Pioneer of Empire (London: John Murray, 1914), 4. 62 Several articles detailing his life were to include his success at sports while at school at Oxford. For Transition in Africa: From Direct Rule to Independence: A Memoir (London: C. Hurst, 1974).
65 After becoming Acting Lieutenant Governor of Northern Nigeria, one of John squash court. 63 Edouard Girouar d, who became the first Governor of Northern Nigeria, 64 As contact with the British increased in the nineteenth century, Nigerians continually encountered British men who had their own preconceived notions about sport and the primitiveness of African versions of sport. As graduates of the character, and education that would have an important im pact on the development of modern sport and the educated elite in the entire Nigerian colony and Lagos specifically. Western Schooling, Character, and Manliness As Kristin Mann argues, Christianity and western education followed Saro and Amaro immigrants t o Lagos and created a class of black educated elites in Lagos who saw an important value in educating their youth . 65 European education had been introduced to Lagos by missionaries, many of them educated Saro themselves , as far 63 Anthony Kirk The Cultural Bond: Sport, Empire, Society (London: Frank Cass, 1992), 187. 64 Anthony Kirk : Sir Percy Girouard, Neglected Colonial Governor Affairs , 83:331 (1984): 212. Although Girouard (1907 1909 in Northern Nigeria) was not known himself as an exceptional sportsman and did not win distinction in sport at school, he did see the valu e in sport and supported it thoroughly when was a colonial governor in Nigeria and Kenya. Girouard however was selected before WWI, the moment that AKG describes as the turning point in the selection of athletic colonial administrators. 65 Mann, Marrying We ll, 18.
66 back as 1842 when they arrive d at Bagadry. 66 In fact, it was several educated Saro who started some of the first Lagosian missions and schools. James White and Thomas Babington Macaulay, both Saros, founded two of the earliest schools and churches. White founded the first Church Missio n Society (CMS) church and primary school in 1852, while Macaulay founded the CMS Grammar School in 1859. 67 While they serv ed primarily the Saro and Amaro community at first, by the close of the nineteenth century these schools and church congregations incl uded the local Yoruba. By 1884, Lagos had twenty four primary and five secondary schools, educating 1,861 and 156 students respectively. 68 By 1912, there were 201 primary schools and 7 secondary schools in the whole of southwestern Nigeria, teaching approxi mately 14,000 and 800 students respectively . 69 Missionaries had a monopoly on education in Nigeria with very little government oversight. Even as late as 1942, missionaries controlled 99 percent of schools in Nigeria, and had educated 97% of all Nigerian st udents. 70 As Kristin Mann notes about the nineteenth century, this resulted in an educated Christian subculture in Lagos political, and economic role in the city in the twentieth ce ntury . 71 They understood and imitated English dress, customs, and activities. They also enjoyed English leisure 66 Thesis) University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1. 67 Mann, Marrying Well 142 143. 68 Mann, Marrying Well , 18. 69 Ibid., 70 James Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1960), 113. Coleman argues that few, if any, literate Nigerians had any schooling outside the missionary schools as late as 1945. 71 Mann, Marrying Well , 28 29 .
67 pastimes, especially sport. 72 Many learned and developed affection for these sports during Azikiwe , who we shall see had a major influence on boxing (Chapter 3 ) . 73 the schools for all children . Moreover, there was a lack of government support in creating new ones. E ven as late as 1947 there were still complaints about the lack of educational facilities for Lagosian children . A Dr. Maja called a meeting at Glover Memorial Hall . He complained that Lagos was backward and lamented the fact that at that time there were only 10 secondary schools in all of Lagos , all owned by the missions and /or the government. He also note d tha t 4,215 kids were trying to gain admission to schools in 1944 , in 1945 there were 4444, and in 1946 were 4144 ; of these only 887 were admitted in 1944 45 . 74 In 1946, he continued, at Kings College 850 boys took the entrance exam and only 25 were admitted. Q ueens College had 1208 girls take the exam and only 30 were admitted. Lagos Government School had 800 applications and only one was admitted. He concluded that a new, well planned national school system was needed to replace the failed system established t wenty years prior. 75 72 Ibid., 19. 73 For example, Nnamdi Azikiwe noted in his autobiography the enjoyment he had for school sport days. (discussed in Chapter Two) was an avid sportsman. Hogan Kid Bassey, future featherweight champion of the world remembered his love for soccer during and after school. 74 NDT 30th January 1947. 75 Ibid.
68 The schools built in Lagos and across the British Empire were modeled on those found in England in the nineteenth century , and therefore held the same values and priorities as their predecessors in England . One important aspect of this was the colonial education system the issues of health and sanitation in the classroom and through a strong curriculum of sport s in schools . 76 The resulting design, known as , a the nineteenth century . 77 Saheed Aderinto argues that the colonial administration and missionaries that came to Lagos gendered school and society, preparing boys and girls for different prospects and roles. 78 Boys were pus hed into school competitions that focused on public display , like sports, to prepare boys for a life in the public sphere , while girls were taught skills for a life of domesticity. 79 The effect, as Lisa Lindsay notes, was to create a male gendered public s pace after WWII, a topic further discussed in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of this study . 80 The major schools in Lagos all subscribed to , s tudents into houses for living and sports. This was done for many reasons: it tau 76 Sir George Guggisberg, governor general of the gold coast from 1919 to 1927 and an avid cricketer, wrote a booklet on colonial education policy. Guggisberg claimed that no amount of education was proper unless character training was front and center. Se e Kirk 77 Image of Colonial Manhood in the British Mind: British Physical Deterioration Debates and Colonial Sporting Tours, 1878 Canadian Journal of Histor y of Sport 23:2 (1992): 54 71 . 78 Children and Childhood in Colonial Nigeri an Histories (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 11. 79 Ibid. 80 eleza and Cassandra Veney, Leisure in Urban Africa ( Trenton: Africa World Press , 2003 ), 105 124.
69 , and pride in the school, all traits that could later be expanded to the city and colony as a whole. 81 College, modeled after the London sc in which the house s of the school competed against one another , starting in 1917. 82 The CMS Grammar School had six houses, named after Crowther, Stanley, Livingstone, , and in ter were eagerly attended events on the school annual calendar. 83 School athletic competitions became a popular city pastime, frequented and supported by British and Nigerian elite s. 84 The presence of popular and importan t persons within the government, or Nigerian no ta bles, at these events were meant to show the importance of sport to the people and to the development of Nigerians as a whole. Governors were also known to hand out trophies and awards at school sporting day s, and their 81 Middle Class Educationalists, Missionaries and the Diffusion of Adapted Athleticism The International Jour nal of the History of Sport , 27: 5 (2010): 905 936. Also see Kings College 19 th Annual Sports NDT 20 October 1936. T wo houses Hyde Johnson and Mackee Wright. It was a crowded event and the police band played throughou t. The Governor was in attendance and handed out prizes. And Third Annual Athletic Sports NDT 23 October 1936 . A good number of prominent Europeans and Africans attended as reported by the newspaper. 3 houses in competition: Oluwole, Freemans, and Aggrey. Acting Director of Education presented the cup and special thanks was given to a Mr. Porter who started the initiative 3 years prior to start an athletic competition at the school to develop character in the stu dents. 82 Kings College 19 th Annual Sports NDT 20 October 1936. 83 University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1990, 47 8. 84 NDT 28 December 1940. A big crowd of Europeans, Africans, and Syrians to watch the inter house competitions. The four houses ts were well contested, including the Crawling Races for Kindergartens and Obstacle races for junior boys. The Tug of See NDT 25th November 1940 4 houses at the school and 19 events were contested. It was attended by the Oba Alaiyeluwa the Alake and the Resident of the Province, E.G. Hawkesworth. The best event for viewers was the Indian Club Race . The four houses Agbebi, Agboola, Edens, and Lumbley.
70 speeches often praised the good work in cultivating character, uplift of race, and discipline in youth. 85 For example, the Katsina Middle School Annual Athletic Competition in 193 6 was attended by the Emir of Ka t sina who distribute d prizes . It was also watched by the Emir school children, district heads, chiefs, councilors, and prominent Euro peans and Africans. 86 Trophies and Shields for competitions between schools , some dating back to the early 1900s, were also hotly contested and the matches eagerly attended. 87 The 1930s saw an unprecedented rise in schooling in Lagos , but despite this the low rate of school admittance and widespread adult illiteracy were still major problems reported throughout the interwar and post WWII era newspapers. 88 It w as estimated in 1940 that out of a gross population of seven million in Nigeria, less than 240,000 were registered for any school, roughly 1.1% of the population. 89 T he colony was slow to implement educational services and only a small percentage of colonia l Nigerian children attended schools, the majority of which were located in Lagos. The graduates formed the Nigerian and Lagosian educated elite that had gr own up during and after , who 85 Examples of these were found throughout the 1930s until independence. 86 NDT 28 October 1936. Urling Smith Shield contested. The teams represente d were the N.A. Workshops, Geological Survey, N.A. Police, Medical 87 The Rouden Shield, contested in Oyo between the Anglican school and Baptist school dates to 1900, Peace Challenge Shield was donated to Calabar school s in 1919, and the Clifford Shield for Wagner, Sport in Asia and Africa: a Comparative Handbook . (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989), 254. 88 NDT 18 November 1940 . Articles about the spread of education, the need for adult education facilities at night, and efforts to eradicate adult illiteracy were a weekly feature in newspapers after WWII. 89 Ibid.
71 moved from Old Calabar to Lagos to attend school at the age of 11 in 1943, recalled : Here I went to a big primary school, which I enjoyed very much, particularly because I could take part in proper sports. 90 Former amateur boxer Olu Moses, who atten ded St. school. We participated in all sports. Sport was done side by side with acade 91 Education , in terms of sports and the values the y promoted, was especially emphasized for the white children of administrators and expatriates. For example, a 1935 article in the Nigerian Observer pointed out the need for special care for the next generation of colonial administrators, on whom Our hopes and future salvation and progress of the race are centered . 92 There was a concern that the se children were growing up without the proper lessons for ely. We however cannot deny the fact that a sportsman's spirit is one that a great majority of our people have yet to learn. If they have it, for the good of the race, it is best that they exhibit it, fully and squarely." 93 This next generation needed the lessons of the sporting field since they transcended into everyday life, creating a Christian lifestyle of honesty, "love, peace, long suffering , meekness, and above all faith. " 94 If the white race was to survive and not degenerate, in Nigeria and elsewhere , the article warned that the 90 B assey, Bassey on Boxing , 4. 91 Interview by Bamidele Ajayi with Olu Moses, Surulere, Lagos, September 16, 2015. 92 Nigerian Observer 6 July 193 5 (Weekly Sunday Publication). 93 Ibid. 94 Ibid.
72 ideological and physical lessons of sport, which had elevated the British to their current position, must not be forgotten. As several scholars have noted, the colonial government attempted to direct education to not only tra in civil servants and farmers, but also as a form of sociopolitical control. 95 T he government the European style colonial education were based on the development of the economy and the subsequent needs for labor and administrators . 96 With so few whites in the colony, many important positions in the colonial administration were staffed by educated Nigerians in the late nineteenth century . 97 However, after the turn of the twentieth century, racial barriers to employment began to take hold and many e ducated Nigerians were limited to lower level white collar jobs like bookkeepers and clerks. While t he colonial government in Nigeria recognized and took advantage of the schools that educated their administrators and bureaucrats , it did not dispense funds for the creation or development of education in the colony . T hus the burden was placed on missions and laypersons to create, staff, and run schools until the early 1950s. 98 The lack of direct government oversight also allowed for a wide variety of curricul a to be taught in Lagos . H owever, the colonial government in Nigeria stressed that the purpose of education 95 1959 found in Adebayo Oyebade (ed.), The Transformation of Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Toyin Falola (Trenton. NJ: Africa World Press, Inc.), 47 72 and for a similar case in Tan British Colonial Period, 1919 Tanzania Under Colonial Rule (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1980). 96 47 72. 97 For example, in 1881, the Civil Establishment employed 45 Nigerians and only 11 Europeans. See Mann, Marrying Well, 20. 98 1 18.
73 and threatened that the school would be closed down if that criteria was not me t . 99 The sports were also decided on the basis of whims of the teachers and available coaches in the area. Throughout the 1930s and coach who was a f ormer boxer and an avid boxing fan. That program attracted several young men like Nigerian Middleweight Champion Reggie Williams , as discussed in Chapter 3 . 100 Naturally , these privately run school s w ere not free nor cheap for parents, and the number of students admitted was always far smaller than those wanting to be educated. It was not until a series of Acts and commissions post 1945 that educational development began to come under the direct purview of the colonial government. 101 Primary educa tion was not made mandatory or free until 1957 . 102 Beyond the fact that the available space in schools could not accommodate the population of Nigeria, t he education system present through WWII was too heavily involved in teaching Greek, Latin, the Classic complained the West African Pilot ( WAP 103 Edited by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the WAP believed that schools in Nigeria should involve 99 62. 100 West Africa Magazine January 1953. 101 For information about the Butler Act 1945, Richards Commission 1946 a nd Educational Ordinance 1948, s 1980 6 9. 102 Ibid., 8. NAI 957 1959. Although free education, many private schools still operate in Lagos to this day and continued at the time to charge fees. 103 WAP 7 A pril 1941.
74 104 To the WAP , this meant more physical fitness education for youth : Physical fitness is one phase of the development of youth today which is receiving attention everywhere in the world. Boys and girls are encouraged to make their bodies hard and sound by exercise, 105 The paper recognized that i n order to do so, schools need help from the community, who should donate trophies and cups for competitions, as well as bring their physical expertise to coach the youngsters, 106 The implication is that t he growing youth o their bodies as well as their minds, and physical fitness through sport and training was deemed indispensable by certain sections of the Lagosian population. As will become clear in Chapter 3 , this period be gan the linking of citizenship, health, and sport with boxing. By the early 1940s, s fitness, and as such we admire their efforts to develop their brawn in the same way as they develop their mental capacity for the onward march of this great Dependency to 107 104 Ibid. Many of the early editorials and columns were written by Azikiwe himself. Azikiwe required a high Editor had to possess the London sta ndard was so high that any spelling mistakes by his workers were fined two shillings, six pence deducted from each pay packet. See Dayo Duyile, Makers of Nigerian Press: An Historical Analysis of Newspaper Development, The Pioneer Heroes, The Modern Pres s Barons and the New Publishers . (Lagos: Gong Communications (Nigeria) Ltd., 1987), 142. 105 WAP April 7 1941. 106 Ibid. 107 Ibid.
75 during this time , Lagosian schools also wanted to do their part and take physical education seriously. 108 In 1937 the , complained that too often schools in Nigeria impose d proper men. 109 Physical education was needed, and the Principle was happy to announce that the ege, Lagos, was scheduled to introduce a second football team and a cricket team, for the teams to play ten games of football, as well as twelve for cricket. 110 At the C.M.S. Grammar School, Lagos, health and physical development went hand in hand. Like King were given top priority, [and] helped to foster their sound physical development as a necessary step to training t 111 Being on a sports team or other school society not only promoted social cohesion and friendship among the pupils, it also 112 Several Nigerians who would play an important role in the promotion of boxing came from this educated elite. For example, Curtis Crispin (C.C.) Adeniyi Jones (1876 1957) was a trained doctor 108 NDT 12th April 1937. 109 Ibid. 110 Ibid. 111 School specifically chapter 3 and quote from 47. 112 Ibid., 48.
76 who later became the medical examiner for the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control after 1949, as well as the medical officer at many fights around Lagos from the 1930s. 113 Furthermore, i ntercollege competitions were seen as not only useful but desirable for the growing generation of Nigerians : The inter college meetings between Middle Schools of the Yoruba Provinces and the Husse y Shield Competition between North and South have demonstrated in most striking manner the extent to which these periodical Athletic meetings for students are capable of building up in our citizens of the future both real sporting spirit and the strong phy sique which means so much to a rising country like ours. It must be therefore most welcome the news that the experiment that has proved so successful in the Yoruba provinces is now being made in the Warri Beni area. 114 Physical Education, Manual Labor, and S port Leagues The molding of character, as seen above, was important to the selection of discourse in the 1930s and 1940s. Physical activity and manual labor , as well as sports , together could develop the proper character in youth. Consequently, there was a call for a revamped vocational training that had increased emphasis on physical education. In educating our children to become leaders of tomorrow, they should be taught that Riting Rithmetic , and Religion (which should develop their Personality, preserve their Health, cultivate their Intellect, and mould 115 As Physical education and participation sports , as perceived by 113 Adeniyi Jones was listed by Kristin Mann as one of her 200 educated elite in Lagos. Mann, Marrying Well, 128. 114 School Sports NDT 12 June 1937. 115 Labour WAP June 9 1941.
77 the British and the Nigerian educated elite, was integral to developing health and character. 116 However, by the 1940s manual labor was considered a lesser form of employment than clerical and civil administration work in the eyes of many Lagosians. 117 In response, m any of the la rger European corporations, like the United Africa Company, or government funded jobs, like the railroads or the police, developed their own sports clubs for employees. 118 These clubs began to play against one another in the late 1920s , and the creation of t he Lagos Amateur Football League facilitated inter employment competitions. The 1930s saw the growth of popular , work based sporting leagues in Nigeria, but they were still in their infancy. The Nigerian public began to attend football matches in larger nu mbers throughout the decade , b ut it was not popular with Lagosian fans at first. By 1937, there were even complaints that football and cricket matches were not well enough attended by Lagosians. Many of matches were in fact canceled due to lack of spectato rs. 119 Crowds would become dissatisfied due to factors like poorly played matches and ignorant referees, leading to smaller audiences after word of mouth dissuaded potential fans . 120 Football remained popular especially for the elite and the British , therefore , but during this time the sport was plagued by growing pains. 116 WAP 25 August 1941. 117 Ibid., and Zik WAP 9 th June 1941 . Azikiwe gave a series of lectures during 1941 attesting to the fact that manual laborer should be more pri zed in the eyes of society than the clerk or civil servant. 118 Many of these associations began sport clubs after WWI ad were a major tool during the interwar years and after WWII in recruiting workers. 119 Ranji WAP 24 th November 193 7. 120 NDT 22nd Sept ember 1936. Article in sports section that decries the dissatisfaction of the crowds at
78 Other traditional British school sports became more popular as spectator sports during the interwar period as a growing number of Nigerian elites graduat ed from the western style school s . Even after they left school and began careers in various fields, their attachment to their schools and school sports continued. Many Nigerian males join sporting compet itions. Part of the agenda of these Old was to play football and cricket, pursue other athletics, and practice swimming in other words, participate in fo otball, cricket, field hockey, and Cross Country races . 121 With the various influences from British culture, especially as it was transmitted through the school system , sporting institutions began to take shape during the interwar period thanks also in part to the steady promotion by colonial administrators and educational institutions. But one cannot forget that the Nigerians themselves, the ones playing the sports, had the most important role of all. Their demand for more sports cubs, facilities, and compet itions pressured the govern ment into promoting more sport. Health and Sport Regardless of the views of the British that came to Lagos and Nigeria, sport and pastimes was pa rt of the reason why European sport was readily adopted. Beyond the enjoyment of the sport and games, however, sport played several important social expect less fans and less interest in league soccer. This question will plague the league and should hire former soccer players to be refs. 121 Ranji WAP 24 November 1937. Many Nigerians believed that tennis was not a masculine sport, one that was better left for old men and women.
79 functions, from social interaction and building friendships to a way to gain stature , and fame, local or re gional. The reasons one chose to play was not a major difference what applies to one nationality applies very much to the other in the sphere of sports 122 To Basden, sport was one form of cultural transfer that could go health of those w 123 Within Lagos, the educated elite described by Mann played an important role in the diffusion of sport in early Lagos, and it was through schooling in the early twentieth century that the foundations for many sports and sports leagues were laid. Although these currents of cultural transmission, specifically British ideas about health, sport, and character , were circulating in Lagos between the wars, there was no guarantee that they would diffuse to Lagosians nor that they would accept them wholeh eartedly. Other historians have argued that the diffusion of the messages of colonialism did not always happen as the colonizers imagined, nor could the message be free from adaptation by Africans. The argument here is not whether the ideas permeated into Nigerian society, but rather recognizes that colonialism brought with it many cultural transfers and focusing on the ways that these took root. The colonial ideas like sportsmanship w ere in fact adapted to suit African needs, in this case towards a muscula r c itizenship, the subject of Chapter 4. The Cult of Sportsmanship that came 122 Basden, Among the Ibos , 136. 123 Ibid.
80 on the backs of the colonial administrators, muscular missionaries, and British expatriates might not have been apparently widespread at first, but it was nonetheless present in Lagos. As health and sport became intertwined in the minds of colonials, and was taught to Nigerians in schools and disseminated through newspaper s and sports clubs, the ethos of sport began to gain traction. As a new literate and educated generation of Nigerians came of age, the lessons learned from sport and how sport should be used to train the leaders of a new Nigeria played a more important role in their lives. The creation of the ideal the language and values of sport and sportsmanship. By the early 1950s, the sport that brought all of these currents and issues together was boxing.
81 CHAPTER 3 LAGOS, BOXING, AND THE GROWTH OF INTERCOLONIAL BOXING Prewar Boxing and Lagos As we have seen in Chapter 2 , the British education system produced sports centered colonial administrators, as well as missionaries and expatriates. Once this educatio n system was implemented in Nigeria, British ideals regarding sport, especially sportsmanship and character, impinged on indigenous ideals of health, manliness, sanitation, and citizenship. This chapter examines the factors that started the fusion of these two groups of ideals together to form a more welcoming environment for boxing in the late 1930s, which later allowed boxing to be the most popular sport in Nigeria by the end of the 1950s. T he Great Depression and the mass migration of young men to Lagos, the growth and spread of daily newspapers and advertisements featuring boxing, the increased visibility of boxers and clubs in Lagos, and lastly the rise of an educated Nigerian sporting class brought up in British styled schools together paved the way fo r the post WWII success of boxing. These developments can be illustrated through the lives of two figures: Nnamdi Azikiwe and and popular sport in postwar Lagos. Three things needed to happen in order for box ing to be successful in Lagos: Firstly, newspapers needed to be available as a platform to disseminate informatio n about local and international boxing, including the heavyweight championship reign of African American Joe Louis. Next, a local Nigerian had to become the beacon of boxing, an example of the well shaped men that boxing produced and an encouragement for
82 o ther Nigerians to take up the sport. That beacon was Reggie Williams, whose size and stature represented the strong Nigerian man best able to survive the rigors of urban living. Lastly, boxing needed to link itself to national pride and progress through in ternational competitions. The intercolonial tournament against the Gold Coast in 1938 focused popular attention and linked boxing to the strength and progress of Nigeria as a nation. These three conditions were met after 1936, marking a turning point for b oxing representative of these larger processes: Azikiwe as an editor and owner in newspapers which focused on human interest stories and sport, and Williams as a boxing idol. By exami ning their careers during this time period, we can see how each in turn facilitated the spread of boxing and brought together the currents discussed in Chapter 2 , namely character, sportsmanship, and health, through a discussion about boxing. Although they were not successful during the interwar period in making boxing popular, their work in this time period made sure that after the war these currents came together through boxing. Moreover, their efforts and presence in Lagos had a marked impact on ideals o f masculinity and nationalism. The chapter begins with an overview of Lagos during the Great Depression, then looks at struggles of boxing in the interwar years up to 1936. It then focuses on the work of Azikiwe and Williams after their arrival and elevati on in status in Lagos in 1936. In order to understand Azikiwe the content of newspaper production in Lagos during this time through his concentration on sport and health, along with an increased visi bility of boxing and boxers , in the content he printed in his newspapers, as shown through the example of the number of
83 stories he printed about boxer/boxing champion Joe Louis. Moreover, Azikiwe creating Zik e ethos and culture of boxing. The chapter moves on to a discussion of Reginald Williams as the first role model of boxing. His large, muscular stature reshaped ideals of masculinity in the city and made a visual link between fitness, health, and boxing th at solidified after the war. His participation in the intercolonial boxing tournament in 1938 had lasting effects on local ideals of boxing, masculinity, and nationalism that were interrupted but not abandoned during the Second World War. Lastly, the chapt er looks at the way boxing was promoted during the war and how boxing was linked to national pride and duty. The Interwar Years, the Great Depression, and Nigeria After the First World War Lagos became the economic and political epicenter of the newly amalgamated Nigerian colony . 1 With such a change came an influx of peoples, both Nigerian and British, to the city. As mentioned in Chapter 2 , the city of Lagos grew r apidly during the 1920s and 1930s, from roughly 99,960 persons in 1921 to over 175,000 in 1935, despite of (or because of) the Great Depression. 2 Moreover, the number of Europeans in the city grew from 300 in 1901 to over 4,000 in 1931. 3 As 1 See Ayodeji Olukoju, The "Liverpool" of West Africa: the dynamics and impact of maritime trade in Lagos, 1900 1950 African Economic History , 20 (1992), 119 135; Pauline Baker, Urbanization and political change: the politics of Lagos, 1917 19 67 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974). 2 George Abosede Making Modern Girls: A History of Childhood, Labor, and Social Development in Colonial Lagos (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014), 22; and Liora Bigon , A History Of Urban Planning In Tw o West African Colonial Capitals: Residential Segregation In British Lagos And French Dakar (1850 1930) (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009). 3 in Fourchard and Albert (eds.), Security, crime and segregation in West African cities since the 19th century (Paris: Karthala, 2003), 263 286.
84 Ayedele Olukoju were the social costs of trade: population explosion, high cost of living, scarcity and inadequacy of housing, unsanitary living conditions, and the educational backwardness of her yout 4 All of these problems of rapid urbanization were exacerbated by the Great Depression. Destitute migrants traveled to Lagos in search of a refuge and employment to pay taxes or social obligations. But those that arrived there found a difficult situatio 5 Lagos was a commercial hub of international trade and not dependent on agriculture, and thus employment opportunities in Lagos were greater than the rest of the country, not to mention that Lagos was by far the most modern city during this era. 6 According to Fourchard and Mabogunje, the continual flow of migrants from the hinterland meant that Lagos remained a predominantly male and youthful city into the 1950s. 7 In fact, mostly due to and 1600% between 1900 and 1963. 8 Throughout the 1930s and until Nigerian 4 Ayedele Olukoju, 132. 5 Akin Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria (London: University of London Press, 1968), 2 61. 6 5 Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 26I. Fourchard, Invention of Juvenile Delinquency in Nigeria, 1920 60 Journal of African History , 47 (2006) and Its Aftermath in South Eastern Nigeria, 1928 African Economic History , 34 (2 006), 69 102. Naanen, states that Lagos was the only city before the war that had electricity in the colony. 7 Fourchard, Invention 118. Mabogunje, Urbanization in NIg eria , 265 . 8 The Journal of Business and Social Studies 1. 2 , ( 1969 ) , 117 132.
85 independence in 1960, Lagos and other cities grew in siz e as rural laborers migrated in increasing numbers to urban areas. 9 Part of the reason for the movement of men to cities in search of wages was the introduction of direct taxation on the whole of Nigeria between the wars. As Naanen revenue but also to drive out 10 By the end of the 1920s, according to Naanen, a rudimentary system of direct taxation had been implemented, mostly through a p oll tax. 11 According to the British, and especially Lord Lugard, first Governor shortages. In order to pa y their taxes, which were only collected in cash, workers increasingly engaged in market production in its various forms, while also earning cash to pay the tax on imported colonial goods. 12 This situation was not without hardship nor was it accepted withou t resistance, as the payment of direct cash taxes caused 9 er War Lagos, Nigeria Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development. 1988, vol. 17, 2/3, 229 258. Waterman estimated that these migrants formed the core of the African working class during the interwar period. By 1926, there were 5800 permanent government employees, Population 124 126. 10 re 82. 11 Ibid . 12 Ibid, 82 3.
86 1929. 13 Nevertheless, despite the conflict over trying to integrate taxes into colonialism, the interwar period did a lso see the increase in young men migrating to urban areas searching for income to pay for taxes and imported goods. 14 This process was exacerbated by the Great Depression, which not only deflated export prices, but also inflated imported goods while not af fecting the rate of taxation, meaning extra hardship for Nigerians. The Great Depression hit Nigeria relatively hard in some sectors. Nigeria was, by and large, dominated by an export based economy primarily in palm kernels/oil, cocoa, and groundnuts. Acc ording to Ayodeji Olukoju , the price of palm oil dropped 600% between 1929 and 1934. 15 In fact, all exports took a sharp decline: the total value of exports in 1929 was roughly Â£17,000,000 but by 1938 had dropped to approximately Â£9,700,000. 16 With prices fl uctuating downward, Nigerians grew more groundnuts and cotton to sell in order to survive hardship, pay taxes, maintain pre Depression income levels and fulfill social obligations. 17 As Moses Ochonu has shown, during the Great Depression Nigerians were the 13 Falola and Adam Paddock, The Women's War of 1929: a history of anti colonial resistance in eastern Nigeria (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2011). 14 For more information on the taxation system and its dist ribution in Nigeria, see re 83 pest brand of cigarettes was increased by 150 percent, spirits 447 percent, while grey baft, used for clothing, increased from 1d to 2d per lb. The Women's War represented a dramatic outcome of this combination of produce price failure, the timing of that failure, and 15 Ayodeji Olukoju, , 170. The price dropped from 29/10s to 4/5s over that time period. 16 Michael Crowder, The Story of Nigeria (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 263. 17 Ayodeji Olukoju, The Liverpool of West Africa , 170.
87 colonialism afloat. 18 According to Ochonu, as the colonial government pursued a heavy taxation policy, many young men resorted to migration within and away from Northern Nigeria, including seeking wages i n Lagos on the docks or other industry. 19 With Lagos being the principle home of many industries and British companies like the United Africa Company and Holt and Co., Lagos and other urban areas swelled wit h unemployed men seeking work. On top of the many expatriate firms reduced their staffs, adding to the numbers of jobless men roaming Lagos in search of work. Olukoju adds that the lower prices for agricultural produce similarly forced many farmers to lay off w orkers. 20 A report on the unemployment situation in 1931 remarked immigrants from the but of a steady cash income p 21 As Olukoju found in his study of Lagos, during this time it was not simply the lure of the modern city that pulled migrants to 22 The need for cash to pay ta xes and to satisfy social responsibilities drove 18 African Economic History , 34 (2006), 103 145, 138. 19 Moses Ochonu, Colonial Meltdo wn , Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009), 90. 20 Olukoju, Liverpool of West Africa , 176 77 21 NAI CSO 26/4 09512 vol. VIII, Colony Annual Report, 1931, para 32. Found in Olukoju, Liverpool of West Africa, 194 22 Olukoju, Liverpool of West Africa , 196.
88 many young men, both married and unattached , to the cities like Lagos , Ibadan, and Abeokuta. As is common in times of economic hardship, crime in Lagos, and especially youth crimes, went up considerably as the pressures from economic and social survival took their toll and the city swelled with migrants. 23 The rise in petty crime and counterfeit money was a continual problem from 1931 onwards in the colony. 24 This increase in crime, coupled with the large numb er of homeless and destitute young boys and men in vement, the subjects of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 . 25 The need to reform these criminals, as wel l as prevent others from becoming criminals, moved some British and Nigerians towards sport as a solution to this growing problem. As discussed in Chapter 2 , s port was though to teach discipline, hard work, respect, and sportsmanship to youth, all of which would combat the bad traits associated with juvenile delinquency. However, this solution tended to be used more after 1945 when the fortunes of Lagos and the economic situation turned for the better. Nevertheless, the increase in juvenile crime fueled the belief that urbanization was producing a deviant form of manhood and that the future of Nigerian men was in jeopardy. 23 30, to 2537 in 1945 47. The convictions per year increased from 30 to 845 over the same time period, fueling the idea t hat youth crime was on the rise because they were socialized improperly in the city, and thus not becoming proper men. 24 Olukoju, Liverpool of West Africa , 199. Also see L. poverty, urban crime and crime con trol: The Lagos and Ibadan cases, 1929 1945 in S. Salm and T. Falola (eds.), African Urban Spaces in Historical Perspective (Rochester NY, 2005), 291 319. 25 Fourchard, Making Modern Women .
89 When discussing the Great Depression, or any economic hardship for that matter, scholars can tend to focus on the economics of the situat ion and lose sight of the fact that regardless of hardship, people want to have fun and require entertainment. Lagos was no different. Despite the Great Depression , sporting entertainment in Lagos was a regular feature, especially amateur football, cricket , and secondary school sports. During this period, after hours sporting clubs began to spring up in Lagos, organized around industries such as railroads, the United Africa Company, and other government posts. These clubs served the leisure pursuits of empl oyed Nigerians and were supported by their industry employers. 26 At this time, boxing was not yet a popular form of entertainment, and therefore it was not seen as something worthwhile for companies to promote in their sport clubs. In addition, boxing shows were more expensive to attend than football matches, and as a result, boxing was still the sport of elite Nigerians and British expatriates, not of the common worker. This started to change after 1936. Difficulties in Tracking the Rise of Boxing It is dif ficult to pinpoint when boxing emerged in Lagos. As John Blacking notes, the sources available to historians for sport in colonial Africa are slim and often very difficult to find. 27 Since most sports related issues were handled by civilians and not the gov ernment, they do not readily appear in the archives, nor did they take up 26 For example, see Lisa Li ndsay, Putting the Family on Track (Ph.D. Diss., University of Michigan, 1996), especially Chapter Six. 27 Colonial Af William Baker and J.A. Mangan (eds) Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History ( N ew York: Africana Publishing Co. , 1987), 4 . Blacking argues that part of the problem with sources lies in the fact that anthropologists and colonials were not always interested in sport and play of African societies, and neither were colonial officials.
90 considerable space in the paperwork for the running of the colony. 28 While the exact genesis of boxing in Nigeria is unclear, the 1930s was the decade within which several currents came together, specifically the rise of sport as an integral part in the standards of health and education, as discussed in Chapter 2 which ope ned a space for boxing to develop. The drive to promote boxing rather than other sports can be seen coalescing in the debates over masculinity, character development, urbanization, juvenile delinquency, education, and ideals of sportsmanship. Despite boxin g clubs existing in Lagos from the early 1930s, the cost of attendance and the difficulty convincing Nigerians that boxing was a useful sport were obstacles in the way of its ultimate overwhelming popularity. Many boxing clubs, Clubs, or boxing focused clubs, staged tournaments or promotions, but had a difficult time gaining adherents beyond European expatriates and elite Nigerians. While this situation was no doubt exacerbated by the economic difficulties of the Great Depressio n, many young Nigerians who migrated to the city had never seen boxing before and most likely did not want to waste money on a sport they had never seen or played. Watching a promotion was expensive, far more so than other sports in Lagos like cricket and soccer. Since boxing promotions did not seat thousands of fans, the cost of attendance was higher in order to pay expenses. Thus the tournaments that were held were not well attended, and neither were they held in a regular fashion. Moreover, the exigencie s of the Great Depression curbed the number 28 At the Nigeria National Archives in Ibadan, only two folios deal exclusively with boxing. The first folio is a collection set up to purchase a trophy for Hogan Bassey, who then became champion of the world, NAI COMCOL 1 15 3, 4631/3296/C.402, NBBC Public Collection 1957. The second folio deals with the government recognition of the Nigerian Boxing Club. NAI COMCOL 26 Series 1, 43588, Nigerian Boxing Club Lagos.
91 of tournaments that boxing clubs could stage due to the cost of putting on the show, and the high probability of losing money. Even more problematic was the lack of boxers to stage tournaments, since many were st ill in the beginning phases of their training and understanding of the sport. But the most important hindrance to boxing beyond the financial aspects was the aesthetic appeal other. Many Nigerian boxers often commented that their parents were against them becoming boxers in the late 1940s and 1950s because they saw no social value in the sport. 29 championships. 30 Part of the apprehension for parents was that unlike colonial Western education, boxing did not bring with it social or economic mobility. For example, Carolyn Brown noticed that Eastern Nigerian Colliery workers spent considerable sums to pay for the education o investing in scholarships during this and future eras, while not doing the same for promoting sports since it was assumed it would not pay off in the end. 31 Education in Western style school s was seen as a more valuable investment of time and money, 29 Interview with the Professor Olu Moses, Jerry Okorodudu, May/June 2012 and 2013 Lagos, Nigeria. 30 See Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Boxing (1963) and Adeyinka Makinde, Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal , (2001 ), 11. 31 : African miners, culture, and resistance at the Enugu government colliery, Nig eria. (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 182.
92 while sport was nothing more than play. 32 Although parents objected to boxing, not only in the 1930s but to the present in Nigeria, as the 1930s progressed a new generation of colonial school educa ted Nigerians with experience in its sporting ethos emerged. As was the case in other colonial cities, with them came a desire and a demand for more sports during leisure time. 33 Fighting was not seen as altogether useless, at times it was even necessary in a West African Pilot ( WAP ) in Lagos in the late 1930s, the titular character was an adept fencer Fencing and Boxing. M oral: If you 34 It is clear that fencing came first a sophisticated upper class sport, with defined rules and an air of civility -whereas the for all fight, without gentlemanly conduct or rules. As one can see from the cartoon, the boxing begins once all civility has left the competition. Many Nigerians found European boxing to be much the same, not a civilized import but a brutal contest with no cultural rele vance. Fighting was a last resort. As the Depression continued, and crime and unemployment took their toll, a crisis of masculinity formed in the city. Sport was seen to alleviate such concerns. For example, as the Nigerian Observer a general interest in sports 32 Ibid. 33 For example see Lisa Lindsay, Putting the Family on Track ; Peter Alegi, Laduma!: soccer, politics, and society in South Africa, from its origins to 2010 (Scottsville, South Africa: Universit y of KwaZu lu Natal Press, 2010); Laura Fair, Pastimes and politics: culture, community, and identity in post abolition urban Zanzibar, 1890 1945 (Athen s: Ohio University Press, 2001); Phyllis Martin, Leisure and society in colonial Brazzaville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), to name a few. 34 WAP , (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan 7 1938.
93 and consider them necessary to the growth and expansion of not only the physical life of any community but essential to the fostering of good feeling amongst the various 35 Manhood itself was al men! Be strong in character! Honesty pays, everywhere and anywhere. It matters not 36 The lessons of sport transcended the playing field and ring and were necessary fo r the development of character in the city. While the benefits of sport in general to the development of proper manhood were already perceived, the usefulness of boxing specifically was not yet appreciated by the Nigerian public. This would all change in 1938, with the emergence Figure 3 1 . Cartoon of Ferdinand in the WAP . After Ferdinand tries fencing, the competition turns to punching between foes. WAP January 7, 1938. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. 35 Nigerian Observer , (Lagos, Nigeria), July 27, 1935. 36 Ibid.
94 Similar to other African communities during this time, Lagosians took to creating and running boxing and other sport clubs as an entrepreneurial venture. 37 In fact, sports entrepreneurship was one of the few avenues that Nigerians could enter, since many other busines s ventures were either dominated by or restricted to Europeans, like import/export trade. 38 As Makinde found, the first boxing clubs were run not by Europeans but by Nigerians. One of the very first clubs to open in Lagos was the International Boxing and Sp Davies himself was a boxer and a manager in the 1930s, and claimed that he had fought all over Europe and America for over twenty years, where he met other black boxers like Senegalese World Champi on Battling Siki, Nigerian Tiger Flowers, and American Harry Wills. 39 His reputation for being a boxing coach and mentor attracted local boxers to his club for lessons and training. His stable included an eclectic group of boxers, many who were local favori tes, including Nigerians Bomb Dawodu, Al Okonkwo, and Sierra Leonean Wellington Coker. 40 However, before 1936, boxing clubs were few and far between and there were neither eno ugh boxers nor clubs to stage regular competitions which might arouse 37 e rise of African boxing on the Witwatersrand, 1924 International Journal of the History of Sport 28:1 (2011), 47 Internat ional Journal of African Historical Studies 35:1 (2002): 39 60. For a detailed look at the entrepreneurship of Nigerian boxing promoters and Moses Ochonu (ed ,) Entrepreneurship in African History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). 38 Ayodeji Olukoju, Liverpool , 169 176. 39 M akinde, Dick Tiger , 15 . 40 Ibid.
95 interest in the sport. Most did not have proper equipment or even a ring, focusing more on the health and training of their members than on punching, sparring, or competing. 41 A 1937 arti cle in the WAP as I know, boxing in Nigeria is suffering from fever. The reason for this is apparent. It may either be that boxing authorities have lost their interest in the fame or that they are 42 Those at the center of Lagosian boxing were not seeing the results they desired. The blame was placed squarely on the promoters of boxing for not dr awing crowds. The attendance at shows was small and the influx of new boxers was slow to materialize. This changed after 1938, when the blame shifted to the Nigerian fans themselves. Regardless, promoters decided that in order for boxing to catch on, more shows and exposure were necessary. Boxing shows and tournaments in Lagos before 1938 were haphazard and infrequent. By 1936, after a lull in the number of local boxing promotions, the Lagos Boxing Club began staging monthly competitions including a popular show on 11 August 1936 in an effort to drum up support for boxing. 43 An interesting tactic to elicit support was to advertise which prominent white officials were to be present at the event to show that the British at least found boxing a worthwhile form o f entertainment and 41 To NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Nov. 5, 1936. This particular tournament was held in order to make money for new equipment for the club. 42 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937. 43 Boxing at Metropole NDT (Lagos, Nigeria ), Aug, 12, 1936. Dawodu was out of shape. Yo ung Bassey lost a tooth in an accidental head butt and had to retire in his match due to excessive pain. Bob Savage beat Paul Akuson when Akuson fouled 3 times and was disqualified. The fans booed and felt cheated from a good show, according to the news co verage.
96 sport. 44 Another tactic was the use of well known venues. Many promotions before the gatherings, dances, and by the end of the decade , boxing. 45 Having the promotions outdoors led to some issues with inclement weather. Some tournaments were canceled due to rains that made the ring slippery and dangerous to fight. 46 Despite the rain and with the advertising of the well known personalities in attendance, box ing shows started to attract more people. The Lagos Boxing Club also began running ads to promote their club and 47 But the newspaper promotion allowed for many that did not have the means to attend in person to at least read about the results of the matches in detail. 48 The ads would include 44 To NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Nov. 5, 1936. This particular event was watched by Commander A.V.P. Ivey at the Hotel Metropole. 45 Ibid. 46 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) July 16, 1937. The ring was too slippery and only a small crowd came due to the weather. The six fights that night featured Jim Samuel, Jackie Louis, Kid Richard, Billy Petrolle, Red Ayuks, Jack Davies, Teddy McGowan, Joe Stephens, Darkie Brown, and London Kid (Ghana). 47 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Nov. 13, 1936. Attending this promotion were such notables as Vice Admiral F Tottenham, and the event was supported by Commander A.V.P. Ivey, the Director of Marine. The matches included Strawweight Kid Richard vs AC Petrolle, Middleweight Stoker Thorne vs Stoker Jones, Waterweight Engine Room Artificer Harris vs Able Seaman Gibson, Middleweight Joe Spencer vs Bobby Keegan (Nigerian), Light Heavy Mechanican Rogers vs Stoker Bannis ter. Cost of Admission for Ringside seat was 3/ , unreserved seats 2/ . 48 NDT the event in whi ch Bob Savage draws Paul Akusan. In the flyweight fight between Kid Arthur and Jonney Bassey, Kid Arthur fought bravely but lost on points. Red Ayuk compelled his opponent, Kiddy Layeni, to Williams next met Kid Howard. Howard was a new comer to the local ring but proved to be a rather plucky and stubborn fighter. Unfortunately for Williams, he had not recovered from the injury to his middle finger during a recent practice and all the time he was fighting, his right hand was in a bandage in the glove. That he even took to the ring at al l that night was indeed a proof of his pluck and sportsmanlike spirit, and in spite of his injury he managed to come off a deserving winner however, accused of t oo much clinching to get away from the heavy attack of Williams. The big fight of the night was Bob Savage and Paul Akusan who were both vociferously cheered by the crowd. Akusan
97 details such as the fact that Bob Savage and Paul Akusan were both vociferousl y cheered by the crowd at a promotion on November 1936. Akusan was the lighter but 49 It must not be forgotten though, that these early shows and events, like when the HMS Amphion sent crew members to fight against the Lagos Boxing Club in late 1936, were 50 Boxing shows were still infrequent and their lack of expos ure to Lagosians hindered the development of boxing. But as the reporting of boxing increased, so did talk of the fights themselves, the fighters and their styles, and debates over who was going to win. The catalyst for change in boxing attendance and popu larity occurred with the arrival of Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik) to Lagos, and his subsequent creation of a sporting newspaper culture in Lagos through his newspaper, The West African Pilot ( WAP ). The popularity of Azikiwe -that is, the growing urban sporting class -combined with Azikiwe arrival of the WAP in 1937 sparked a newspaper war whose comp etition fueled a rapid expansion of the newspaper industry. 51 Following Charles Ambler, I add that on top of his courage, pertinacity, rd round when he tried to balance himself at the ropes and his arm was caught under the top rope. He managed to continue and felt no ill effects, so the paper sa ys, and finished the fight, a testament to his courage and sportsmanlike character. 49 Ibid. 50 Friday Nights Show NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Nov. 16, 1936. 51 Fred Omu, Press and politics in Nigeria, 1880 1937 (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Human ities Press.,1978), 245.
98 the political critiques of these newspapers, another driving innovation that propelled and sold newspapers in Nigeria was the reporting on sport and leisure. 52 At a time before radio was widespread in Nigeria, most Nigerians relied on newspapers and word of mouth to learn of local and international sporting news. During the late 1930s, in part because of the newspaper battle between the WAP and the NDT , sport, boxing, and newspapers matured and the popularity of boxing rose as a result. Newspaper Wars: The Daily Times, Lagos, and the WAP By analyzing how Africans read and contextualized sporting news, we can get a better grasp of how newspapers impacted what Ambler African cit ies, like boxing. 53 By focusing on the consumption of newspapers, rather than the production, we can gauge how African audiences wanted news that focused on leisure, entertainment, and sport and their importance to life in the city. 54 Readers increasingly tu for information that could be shared and debated with friends. In fact, reading, as Luise White notes, may not have been a silent or personal affair, as newspapers were frequently read aloud : 55 Nigeria was no different and by the 1930s, an emerging class of clerks and educated Nigerians eagerly consumed, discussed, and debated news and sports. 52 The International Journal of African Historical Studies , Vol. 35, No. 1, Special Issue: Leisur e in African History (2002): 119 136. 53 Ibid. , 120. 54 Ibid 55 Luise White, Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa (Berkeley, 2000), 252.
99 Before 1926 there was not one permanent daily newspaper in Lagos. 56 The creation of The Daily Times (henceforth NDT ) in 1926 was one of the major reasons for the increased popularity of sport in Lagos the late 1920s and early 1930s, although that was not the intent of the founders of the paper. The NDT was, in the words of Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region, 57 As Fred Omu argues, from 1926 onwards, daily newspapers were enthusiastically consumed by Lagosians, with the nine new daily newspapers between 1926 and 1936 selling roughly 10,000 copies a day. 58 The NDT was the most popular daily newspaper from the end of the 1920s, selling at its high point in 1936 roughly 6,000 copies a day. 59 Lagosian dai ly newspapers started to report more regularly on sporting events, although they mostly focused on white European sporting activities like cricket, football, or horse racing. As such, the NDT gave very little to no photographs of sport. The 1937 arrival of Nnamdi Azikiwe and his new newspaper The West African Pilot dethroned the NDT to Omu, where the WAP 60 As Pauline Baker argues, the WAP changed how newspapers were operated in Nigeria, with the focus on social equality and human interest stories that drove newspaper from 56 Omu, 85 86. 57 Obafemi Awolowo, Awo: the autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Cambrid ge: University Press, 1960), 82. 58 Omu, 85 86. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid, 240.
100 61 Similar t o Nigeria in the 1930s, one of the major factors in the spread of sport, and boxing, in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the increased circulation of newspapers devoted to sport. 62 Philip Zachernuk argues that the WAP stemmed mostly from its appeal to an increasingly educated class of clerks and an enlarge d class of primary school graduates who could read. 63 In addition , I argue that this class of clerks and educated Nigerians was also exposed to British school sporting culture and clamored for more information about local and international sports in their daily news. The WAP began in November 1937 with an initial circulation of 5,000 copies. 64 Within two months this number grew to over 6,000 a day, and by the end of the first year the WAP was selling over 9,200 copies a day. 65 By 1938 the WAP twice that of its leading daily competitor, the NDT , and thrice that of the Daily News . 66 It became the widest circulated pape r in West Africa by the 1940s, amassing a staggering 61 Pauline Baker, Urbanization and Political Change: The Politics of Lagos, 1917 1967 (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), 79. 62 Elliot Gorn locates the spread of boxing through the newspapers and how newspapers were integral in reporting the sports of the d ay. See Elliott Gorn, The Manly Art: Bare Knuckle Prize Fighting in America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986). Also see Thomas Hietala, The fight of the century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and the struggle for racial equality (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharp e, 2002). 63 Philip Zachernuk, Colonial subjects: an African intelligentsia and Atlantic ideas . (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia., 2000), 92 3. 64 Azikiwe came to Nigeria after initially being an editor in 1937, the African Morning Post published an essay by union leader I.T.A. Wallace colonial government and the Vatican too harshly, causing a civil suit of libel against Azikiwe . He was convicted, but later acquitted on appea l. Toyin Falola, The History of Nigeria . (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999), 87. 65 Omu, 264. 66 Ibid., 268.
101 20,000 copies a day. 67 As Baker notes, in 1921 only 10% of the Lagosian population were literate, but by 1951 more than 48% were literate. 68 But Lagosians were not the WAP Azikiwe set up the WAP in four other cities after 1940. 69 Carolyn Brown found that after 1937 the WAP meant that Azikiwe ship outside Lagos. 70 No doubt this educated class enjoyed the WAP 71 Yet, political commentary cannot be the lone cause of the rise of the WAP . Indeed, the WAP also appealed to this new educated cla to understand how the WAP became so popular, one must understand the motives of its driving force, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and h ow his love of sport and sportsmanship guided his newspaper production. Nnamdi Azikiwe was an avid sports fan and participant from his childhood. He was a former amateur boxer and passionate boxing supporter. During his studies in journalism in the United Stated in the 1920s, he boxed as an amateur and even tried his hand at being a professional. Although he gave up boxing after being knocked out, he enjoyed the sport immensely and believed that boxing would play an important role in 67 Baker, 80. 68 Ibid., 81. 69 Omu, 245. 70 Carolyn Brown, We Were All Slaves , 180. 71 See ment for Nigerian Nationalism Between Black American Literature Forum 12:3 (1978), 84 91.
102 the development of men in Nigeria. 72 He believed that sport, like life, had rules one must obey, and that sportsmanship and honesty were linked to success in all aspects of life, especially politics. 73 To that end, Azikiwe sponsored many sporting events by donating trophies and built athletic and football stadiums around Lagos and its environs in order to spread the ethos of sportsmanship to all. Two of his most lasting creations were instrumental in the spread of boxing. One was The West African Pilot ( WAP ), created by Azikiwe in 1937 , which consistently featured articles about boxing matches and more importantly, pictures of boxers, right from the very first edition. The second was the multiethnic sporting clubs known as the and spread his message of sportsmanship across Nigeria with every club that opened. 74 For Azikiwe , and many like him, sport for youth, male and female, was needed to uplift the race to its full potential. 75 The lessons learned in sporting situations transcended those found in the classroom. Having recently come from the Gold Coast (present day Ghana), where boxing was popular in the 1930s, he was disappointed that boxing had not taken hold with Nigerians as it had in the Gold Coast . 76 In order to change this, Azikiwe decided to focus 72 Nnamdi Azikiwe, My Odyssey; an Autobiography (New York: Praeger, 1970), 404. 73 Ibid. 404 and 414 416. 74 Azikiwe, My Odyssey, 407. Azikiwe opened his first club in mid 1938. 75 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , Forward; and Azikiwe, My Odyssey , Chapter Nine. 76 Azikiwe, My Odyssey , 406. For the history of Gold Coast (Ghana) boxing, see Emmanuel Akyeampong, ccra: Warfare and Citizensh International Journal of African Historical Studies , Vol. 35, No. 1, Special Issue: Leisu re in African History (2002), 45; root (1920 The International Journal of the History of Sport , 28:15 (2011), 2142 2158.
103 his sporting section of the WAP on the exploits of black athletes at home and abroad. This emphasis on black athletes can be seen in the first seven editions of the WAP , in 77 Included in this list of boxing pictures was African American Boxing Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, whose picture was a frequent feature of the WAP in the first year and throughout his career into the late 1940s . It is reasonable to assume that this was influenced by not only Azikiwe love for the sport, but also because boxing was the only sport where black athletes made large sums of money, had international exposure, and were world champions. Just as Emmanuel Akyeampong found in his study of boxing in the Gold Coast , the international success of Joe Louis was paramount to the diffusion of boxing in Nigeria , as his example showed the heights that black athletes could attain. 78 Joe Louis, Boxing Idol Two important additions to newspapers that further fu eled Lagosian interest in boxing was the fact that African American Joe Louis was Heavyweight Champion of the World, and that advertisements depicting sports and health now included boxing. The 77 West African Pilot , 26 Nov 1937 2 Dec 1937. 78 60, 45.
104 Figure 3 2. Domingo Bailey, Nige rian Flyweight Champion in 1 937. P ictured in the very first edition of the West African Pilot , WAP Nov. 25, 1937. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. inclusion of more pictures of athletes and boxers in the newspapers made boxing more visible in colonial society. Moreover, the directing of advertisements at Africans, and the use of sporting and boxing themes to sell products, also resulted in the diffusion of boxing to a wider audience. This section will look at both Louis and advertisements to show how after 1937 through WW II, boxing became more ingrained and present in Lagos, as well as in the minds of Nigerians. As mentioned above, from the start of the WAP , Azikiwe included pictures of the African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis, who held the title from 1936 79 Commenting on American society, Eldridge Cl 79 rgivable Blackness Documentary and The Great John L.: Emperor of http://www.boxing.com/the_great_john_l._ emperor_of_masculinity.html
105 boxing ring is the ultimate focus of masculinity in America, the two fisted testing ground 80 This type of homage to boxing was not located solely in Am erica, but was present in many countries in Europe and especially Britain. By the 1950s, boxing would hold a 81 Paving the way in adulation of the prizefighter was Louis, who showed Nigerians an example of a famous, healthy, muscular idol. Figure 3 3 . WAP . WAP Nov. 25, 1937. Courtesy of the National Archiv es of Nigeria. Louis as champion was an inspiration to many Africans and Nigerians. 82 As the NDT 80 Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (Random House, 1968), 85. 81 A Companion to American Sports History , (Hoboken: Wiley, 2015), Chapter Twelve. 82 Several interviews of boxers from the 1950s and 1960s credit Joe Louis as one of their inspirations. Interview with Olu Moses and Abraham Adeyemi Jones, Lagos, Nigeria, May/June 2012 and May 2013.
106 83 Fu ture occasions that Joe Louis was his personal hero, for his good works inspired Africans and African Americans alike. 84 In fact, Bassey told reporters in interviews that he wanted to fight at Madison Square Gardens in New York where his childhood idol Joe Louis used to fight. 85 As the WAP he was the heavyweight champion. He was my idol. He was the idol of all Africa. I 86 appearance in Lagosian newspapers and films. Nigerian Dick Tiger, future World Middleweight Cha mpion, recalled watching films of Louis when he was young and being inspired to fight like him. 87 Furthermore, Azikiwe and the WAP made sure that readers paper. 88 His fights were shown in Nigerian theatres, and his ability to dress in expensive or high class clothing and be seen with whites, made him an example of the social heights one could attain through boxing. 89 Reggie Williams, Nigerian boxing champion 83 Heavyweight Champion: A Private in the US A rmy NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) July 4, 1942. 84 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing . 85 WAP April 13 1957. 86 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) April 13, 1957. 87 Makinde, Dick Tiger , 11. 88 WAP (L agos, Nigeria) December 7, 1937. 89 Pictures of Joe Louis were frequent in Nigerian newspapers in the 1930s. For example, see NDT 17th July 1936 To days Pictures section of pictures included a Pi cture of Joe Louis in tank top and gloves
107 during the interwar period, remarked that Nigerians might one day be good boxers for that Nigerians are good boxers. The proof is as follows: Major Premise: American Negroes [like Louis] ar e good boxers. Minor Premise: Nigerians are Negroid. 90 The importance of Louis as a ground breaking role model cannot be underestimated and his impact on the Atlantic world of boxing is discussed further in Chapter 6 . Figure 3 4. One of the first photos of Joe Louis appearing in the WAP. The caption WAP December 7, 1937. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Sport , Health, and Advertisements in Newspapers The WAP ushered in a new wave of newspapers, and with it the possibility to advertise to a new class of educated Africans. At the same time, as sports like boxing took on more importance in Lagos after 1937, advertisements began to use the theme punching announcing his recent defeat at the hands of Max Schmelling. And then below is a picture of Max Schmeling in boxing trunk. 90 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Dec 17, 1937.
108 of sports to sell health and other luxury products to Nigerians rather than simply whites. Products like Andrew Liver Salts, for example, began to showcase Africans as the main characters of their ads, focusing on the idea that taking such products could aid in the rejuven ation of sapped energy. Ads using boxing and sport in this time period were combining the more modern ethos of sport with older ideals of health in the colonies , creating an image of the ultimate body best able to survive and thrive in the colonial African setting. The ads steadily changed to include more ads directed towards Nigerians, and yet used the same language and rhetoric as it did for whites: that African bodies were being sapped of energy from an unforgiving environment, that strong bodies were th e defense for the tropical climate, and that sporting success depended on such products. A s Timothy Burke demonstrates, products like Lifebuoy Soap, among others, continually used the narrative that success at work followed from being healthy and strong m en to sell products. 91 However, unlike ads directed to whites, these new ads directed at African consumers continually linked their products to a new urban African , and yet carefully never promised make them equal. 92 Building on this, I argue that these successful men also wanted enough energy to participate in sporting competitions and activities after work, something that advertisers picked up on in the 1930s. This theme and rhetoric in ads was consistent in all Ni gerian newspapers well into the 1960s. 91 Timothy Burke, Lifebuo y Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption and Cleanliness in Colonial Zimbabwe. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), 150 158. 92 For a comparable example, see Timothy Burke, Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women , Chapter 3 and 99.
109 M any ads throughout the colonial period used sport to sell products from tonics to bicycles to toothpaste to energy drinks all with the goal of promoting health and vitality to combat the debilitating effects of th e tropics. Boxing was already a theme for selling products to whites in Nigeria. For example, in the 1930s, advertisements in Nigeria for Mentholatum were accompanied by pictures of ex World Flyweight boxing n (Figure 2 5 ). Wilde, from England, was well known to British officials and elite Nigerians. In fact, a famous boxer from Lagos in the 1940s named himself Sammy Wilde after Jimmy, adopting his last name as sign of respect as well as associating himself wi th his attributes. 93 Jimmy Wilde endorsed Mentholatum as having the ability to cure colds, but also as and irritation. Another ad depicting boxing was also run the 1930s for Andrews Salts, a tonic sold widely in Nigeria and West Africa desig impuritie and perspiring colonial administrator looks through a window to see a very fit, very muscular white male punching a speed bag and seemingly happy and full of energy. Like the Mentholatum ad, this ad also links the healthy body to sportsmen, while simultaneously endorsing boxing as a worthwhile sporting pursuit to keep fit and build character. Nigerian males did not wholeheartedl y accept all the rhetoric of the British at face value. C oncerns over money and status, as well as finding a suitable woman, remained 93 For a more detailed explanation of the importance of the naming culture of boxers, especially in Nigeria, see Chapter Three. The impact of Sammy Wilde in Nigeria and later Liverpool is the subject of Chapter Four.
110 Figure 3 5. Advertisement for Mentholatum featuring well known British Flyweight Champion Jimmy Wilde. Wilde also appear ed in several films on how to box NDT July 27 , 1935 . Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Figure 3 6 . Advertisement for Andrews Liver Salts featuring a white, muscular, fit boxer. He is being watched by an out of shape and what appears to be out of energy colonial administrator. NDT October 3 , 1936. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria.
111 central t o manliness in the interwar years. Advertisers knew this and thus played on Why are some men always the centre of attraction admired by women sought after by friends singled for promotion at work? It is because they are vibrant with personal magnetism and vitality. They keep the inner fire of radiant well being steadily glowing. Their fine figures, their sparkling eyes and high spirits all w ell from the abounding life and energy which make them so attractive. They have found that the secret to glowing health is a regular course of Clotabs. 94 Clotabs described the envy of many men for someone they possibly knew and someone they themselv es wanted to be. But a s m e n they also felt they had to attain a muscular body, and local advertisements started more and more during the war years to focus on the male physique while advertising their products. Clotabs in 1940 started showing shirtless Africa n males with large muscles in their ads. By taking two pills, the ad the chest to manly 95 Figure 3 7. Ad for Clotabs found in the 1930s and 1940s in Nigerian newspapers. An example of the changing shape of ads during this time as con cerns over health and manliness . NDT Jan uary 20, 1941. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. 94 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) August 15, 1936. 95 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Nov. 11, 1940. Underline in original.
112 Azikiwe believed his amateur boxing and amateur sports background as a youth and student shaped him into man. 96 Physical fitness was a major concern in interwar Britain, and some of that anxiety came into Nigeria, especially as a new educated middle class was growing and losing its physical fitness. Azikiwe felt that t oo much education for the mind and not en ough for the body was taking its toll on Nigerian manhood : may look all right in his office or on change, but he is not the person who would be 97 Neither t he business man nor Nigerians working as civil servants or in office jobs in Lagos were living up to the ideal male physique, much less could represent the Nigerian race. The growing demand for sport and sports clubs was the social response to this concern. 98 In order to survive the city, and succeed in life, physical fitness was paramount to a rising generation. Azikiwe felt sport, and boxing in particular, [ed] to be the only obvious means of securing Fitness which is really a matter of will as well as body, of moral effort 99 Even King George VI of Britain himself said to his such athletic organization with the spirit of co that our bodies are the instrument s with which we have to work. They too, need 96 Azikiwe, My Odyssey , Chapter Nine. 97 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Apr 13, 1938. 98 Ibid. 99 Ibid.
113 100 The body was the second component of education in that it must also be trained, like the mind, and its classrooms were the fie lds, pitches, and rings. Soon, the boxer would become the epitome of physical fitness. During the 1940s advertisements such as the Clotabs ads were using boxing to promote products for health directly to Africans. Another example was an advertisement for M which ran throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, depicted two Africans boxing in the ring, and a close to 101 Although interesting and ironic that a boxer whose face is punched and is therefore less likely to have a full set of teeth was used to advertise toothpaste, a white and clean full set of te eth was part of the ensemble of a healthy body, and something that was a physical signal of class difference , as lower classed Africans were less likely to have clean or full set. Figure 3 8. Ad for Maclean Toothpaste using a boxer. NDT Jan uary 7 , 1942. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. 100 Quoted in Ibid. 101 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), December 24, 1940.
114 Advertising promoted boxing stars and heroes as much as it did the product. success to the modern man to increased consumption . As mentioned before, a star who resonated with many Nigerians was American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis. Starting in the early 1940s, Joe Louis was the center of bicycle ads for drawn in caricature, but his likeness was well known in many part s of Africa through his fight films and appearances in the newspaper. 102 His picture in the Dayton ad was of him on the bike in a suit and tie, thus linking him to modern d ress and demonstrating how his stature and fame allows him to consume modern products. Figure 3 9. Ad using a caricature of Joe Louis . This was used to sell bicycles in British c olonial Africa. Daily Service , September 23, 1949. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. 102 Interview with Abraham Adeyemi Jones , June 2013, Lagos, Nigeria. Jones used to keep pictures of Louis. Also, as mentioned above, Dick Tiger and Hogan Bassey both idolized Joe Louis before they s tarted boxing.
115 Athletic Clubs At the same time that newspapers and advertisements were bringing boxing to a wider audience, local sports clubs were springing up all over Lagos . By the late 1930s, large corporations and activities for workers that would uplift their minds, harden their bodies and foster 103 In fact, the Railways formed a football club in 1936 to comp ete in the Lagos African Football Association. 104 Azikiwe himself felt firsthand the ethnic tension in Nigeria when he returned to Lagos in 1936 and was denied entry into the Yoruba Tennis Club on the basis of his Igbo ethnicity . 105 Nevertheless, Azikiwe want ed to promote sportsmanship and his club s hopes that in the course of time, its existence will make it possible to set up championship Cups and Prizes that will b e competed annually by Africans, and people 106 ZAC s ) companionship, camaraderie, and co and felt that sport was one place where such barriers could be overcome through sportsmanship and character. 107 As the WAP has also the furtherance of the spirit of fellowship and sportsmanship not among the 103 Lisa Lindsey, Putting the Family on Track , 310. 104 Ibid., 312. 105 Azikiwe, 406 407. 106 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Apr. 4, 1938. 107 WAP (Lagos , Nigeria), Apr. 13, 1938.
116 108 A major problem was the inter tribal tensions in Lagos, something th at would hinder and trouble Nigerian politics to the present , but especially important to the buildup to independence in 1960, the subject of Chapter 8 . Azikiwe , in his importance of cultivating physical efficiency as we as Africans, 109 Notice the rhetoric being used by Azikiwe , linking the mental emancipation from colonialism with the need for physical effi ciency. In Azikiwe when sports promotion, news, and clubs were in their infancy, such a distinction lacked a standard bearer, or in other words, a local Joe Louis who epitomized these ideas in the flesh . Luckily for Azikiwe , he did not have to wait long, as in 1937 another Nigerian Azikiwe , also promoted boxing for both the physical and mental benefits, and because boxing shaped proper men. Reggie Williams Williams was the face of boxing in Lagos before the war and as such he influenced perceptions of the male body and masculinity, as well as helped popularize boxing. Furthermore, since he was one of th e most skilled boxers in Lagos and had no equal in Nigeria, he clamored for matches against boxers from the Gold Coast to prove his mettle. To Nigerians at home these matches were seen as much more: as a way to 108 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Apr. 4 1938. 109 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Apr. 23, 1938.
117 measure which colony had progressed faster an d which was producing stronger men. These boxing competitions became more frequent during the 1940s and 50s, and the first one in 1938 set the precedent for using boxing as the gauge of Nigerian progress, manhood, and pride. was one of the most well known Lagosian boxers before the Second World War, and through him Lagos had its first real local boxing star a fierce competitor, a gentleman, and an avid spor tsman. 110 learned proper techniques, tactics, and the British style of fighting that depended on gentlemanly conduct in the ring. 111 finer points that were necessary to becoming a gentleman honest y , sportsmanlike conduct , and humility . In fact, Williams would later immigrate to Britain during WWII and height and sculpted muscular physique. He could b e seen running around Lagos Island in the interwar years with a 112 indefatigable. Every evening at 5:15 pm I see him having practices with a few members of his Club. He is the Charles Atlas of Nigeria. His physical culture arouses physical 113 He actively advocated 110 WAP (Lagos , Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937. Williams started boxing in the late 1920s and was, by the mid 1930s, the head trainer at the Lagos Boxing Club. 111 Straight Left ag Journal of Historical Sociology 24:4 (2011), 428 450. 112 early in the morning before work, however Williams and his friends ran after the workday was over. 113 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937.
118 other Lagosians and Nigerians the value of boxing for young men, its use for racial uplift under opp ressive colonialism, and the importance of physical training to improve what 114 By building healthy, strong, muscular bodies through boxing, Williams believed that Nigerians would achieve a sense of manhood presently l acking. He tried repeatedly to get Lagosians to come and watch his fights and training session s in order to drum up excitement for the sport, announcing open sessions in the WAP . For example, t he Lagos Boxing Club staged a boxing display for Lagosians in N ovember 1937, which included some exercises, shadow boxing, and exhibition matches for all to see. 115 naturally arouse 116 They then had two exhibition matches that were good displays of the science and strength of boxing. 117 Williams believed that the only thing stopping boxing from becoming popular was its lack of exposure, and so he wanted to get as mu ch press and people watching his training and fights as possible. Williams was interested in promoting boxing for reasons that went beyond those do this better than ot her sports. Reggie Williams was praised for his efforts to grow boxing in Lagos by the WAP : 114 West Africa , Jan. 12, 1952. 115 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Nov. 30, 1937. 116 Ibid. 117 Ibid.
119 Reggie Williams is a darling. He has spent sleepless nights brooding over how he might train strong men in his land. Creating strong men would make them able to end ure the rigors of the city as well as life in general. But it would also inspire men to take better care of their bodies. 118 Notice how this quote links city living, health, and strength together with the help of boxing . Williams knew from experience that in order to survive and thrive in the city, men needed to be stronger physically, a strength he felt was best achieved through training for boxing. B ut b y 1937, boxing had not taken hold as Williams, Azikiwe , and others hoped, either from lack of demand from fans or lack of quality coaches. 119 Azikiwe wrote an article in December 1937 lamenting the lack of coaches and calling for those known for coaching to step up their efforts. To Azikiwe and Reggie Williams, manhood. 120 Since there were few trained boxers in Nigeria, Williams was unable to fully test how good he was as a boxer, so the Lagos Boxing Club decided to reach out to the Gold Coast for an intercolonial tournament. As boxing was not as popular in Nigeria as it was in the Gold Coast see how far Nigerians had come than to fight against its sister colony? Nigerians had for many years complained that the Gold Coast was setting the p 121 Sport was 118 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937. 119 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937. 120 Ibid. 121 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), July 11, 1942.
120 a convenient test to determine supremacy between the colonies, and boxing tournaments b etween the two became tests of strength, manhood, and national pride. Intercolonial Boxing with the Gold Coast African Intercolonial sports competitions between Nigeria and the Gold Coast had been competed by whites, at least for cricket , since 1928. 122 Foot ball, another popular Intercolonial match sport , had been part of the competitions since 1935. 123 The importance placed on Intercolonial sport matches increased in the 1930s and took a more important role after the Second World War as the colonies not only competed for sporting glory, but also for independence. The NDT noted in 1937 that, in terms of might be taken one day unawares, either by Accra 124 B oxing therefore was a symbol for the strength and vitality of a country, or in this case a colony, when matched against on e another. To lose to a smaller colony than Nigeria would be shameful and a stab at Nigerian manhood. 125 As boxing became more pronounced in Lagos, and stars like Williams wanted to test their boxing skill, a tournament was set against the Gold Coast in Marc h of 1938. The WAP 122 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) April 9, 1937. The majority of matches and competitions taking place were team sports and contested by mainly whites up to the early 1930s. Colonial administrators from each colony would engage in po rting contests, sometimes against their travel of these athletes, as well as secure their job upon return. For example, Assistant District Officer John Bl air sked for 9 days off in 1929 to attend a cricket match in Accra, and it was granted by the government. NAI COMCOL 1 748 Interprovincial, Intercolonial and International Sports. 123 Olajide Aluko , Ghana and Nigeria, 1957 70: A Study In Inter African Di scord (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1976), 48. 124 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Dec. 17, 1937. 125 Ibid.
121 126 The tournament s the Gold Gold Coast boxer Chocolate Kid in 1937. The WAP entertain no doubt that he will give a good account of his class anywhere in West Af 127 The tournament also featured undefeated Nigerian heavyweight Bob Savage a tten, the unvanquished Gold Coast Heavyweight , heavyweight boxer from Liberia. Lagosians heard several reports of the upcoming tournament from the moment the contract was signed: Mr. Adisa Olatunji Williams, the manager of Bob and Reggie, who returned from Accra last Thursday by the Apapa with the contract , said: ard of boxing on the Gold coast is very high. It being the National Sport, the people are very keen on it and it is greatly encouraged . 128 Lagos boxers felt as though the Gold Coast National better organization, which included in the 1930s a boxing board of control. The Gold Coast also had the support of the Governor Sir Arnold Hodson, who himself was a boxer of renown, and local Gold Coast chiefs, the for the Inter Colonial boxers in Accra, with a speech from Sempe Manche, a Ga chief. News of the fight, because it was an important contest between the colonies, elicited interest in boxing. Even the training regimes 126 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan. 22, 1938. 127 Ibid. 128 Ibid.
122 building up to the fight were big news. local point of interest to boxing fans, both black and white, since Bob Savage, the 129 According to the paper, young boys boxing now a presentative of this paper while he watched him 130 Williams was these fights got about than any other time 131 In the build up to the 1938 Inter c olonial boxing tournament at Accra, many of the reports centered on the physicality of boxing, but also the enhanced and desirable physical body of the Nigerian boxer as an ideal body . The muscular toned bodies of Williams and Savage were consistently referred to in reports about the tournament, highlighting how desir able such a physique was for many Lagosians. For instance, one repo rt stated that covered with profuse perspiration gleamed like black marble, in the reflection of the 132 129 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Feb. 4, 1938. 130 Ibid. 131 Quoted in Ibid. 132 Ibid.
123 brought his well 133 These boxers were making Nigeria proud, both for representing Nigeria as a colony, and for representing them as ideal muscular men. Ac cording to one report in the WAP , impressions from the start, Reggie, by his forceful handshakes and Bob Savage by his 134 Notice the allusions to the strength of both, one in a handshake, the other in his physique. Their athletic training was also admired by newspaper reporters and those that watched their training sessions: grace, ease, and above all, speed, will put any champion school girl 135 A s concerns over the weakness of the black race and lack of national strength grew louder, the ability to take punishment and persevere, even at outstanding odds, was a laudable quality. Bob Savage was known in boxing circles. 136 To be able to do so at a high level, like Williams and Savage were attemp ting to do, would bestow national pride on Nigeria. Leading up to the fight, many believed this was the chance for Nigeria to land a significant win against their colonial act 133 Ibid. 134 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Mar. 10, 1938. 135 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Feb. 4, 1938. 136 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Feb. 17, 1938.
124 and that is, that he is fighting for the glory and honour of our dear country Nigeria, and 137 The downfall of so many sportsmen before when competing against the Gold Coast was that they were selfish in their pursuit , according to the writer 138 Because national pride was at stake it was necessary for Nigeria to win in order to live up to their ideal. Boxing against the Gold C oast after 1938 retained this appeal to both the manhood of the colony, but also the pride of the nation, as discussed in Chapter 6 and Chapter 8. But since Nigeria had lost on several occasions in the recent past to the Gold Coast , winning was necessary for pride but also for place it may seem, Nigeria is developing an inferiority complex when it comes to Inter Colonial 139 The sports editor of the WAP wanted Nigerians T o realise the destiny of Nigeria in the realm of Sports . . . With a teeming population which hovers around twenty one million, it is puzzling that Nigeria has not been able to produce a first rate Inter Colonial team which 140 Nige ria was the larger colony in terms of geographical size and population, and should by those very facts defeat the Gold Coast handily in every sport. But that was just not 137 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria ) Mar. 1, 1938. 138 Ibid. 139 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Mar. 5, 1938. 140 Ibid. The reporter mentions the humiliating loss at football 4 0 in 1935 at the Jubilee match at Accra. The year before Nigeria had won but it was not a convincing w whic h the GOLD COAST
125 the case in the late 1930s and defeats in football and especially boxing were taken a s proof that Nigeria was not as manly, developed, or sophisticated as the Gold Coast . When they left for the Gold Coast , Azikiwe let the readers know that these men were going to bring glory to Nigeria, especially Reggie Williams , man of 141 That boxing was in fact something that African and African Americans had been doing, and doing well, was something of a novel idea for many Nigerians, so much so that Azikiwe readers, that Neg 142 Azikiwe went on to discuss famous boxing champions who he hoped would inspire Nigerians towards boxing. Unfortunately for Nigeria, both Williams and Savage lost their fights in the Gold Coast . 143 excellent performance which 144 In the coming weeks, several reports of the tournament were printed, including round by round accounts of the fights. Adisa Williams , no relation to Th underbolt Williams, also wanted to let the Lagosian public know of the reception and performance of the Nigerian boxers. He wrote that e ven though the Nigerian boxers did not win, Lagosians need not be sad since they represented the country well. Adisa fel t t hat the whole show was a success and Nigerian boxers did a 141 Inter WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Mar. 5, 1938. 142 Ibid. 143 WAP WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Mar. 23, 1938. 144 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Mar. 23, 1938.
126 145 146 The 147 After the tournament, there was a surge in the number of boxing shows in 1938 and 1939. For example, the Lagos Boxing Club staged several tournaments at the Glover Memorial Hall, including one in May 1938. What made this event interesting was that the buildup to the event featured a list of notable pe rsons who would be attending, a common advertising practice for social events. This gave boxing legitimacy as a worthwhile entertainment for those in the city to attend and be seen. The contest had in attendance G.C. Whiteley, the acting chief secretary of excitement and thrills for spectators : ing from the elaborate preparations being made, it would appea r the Club is determined that the show shall lack none of the 148 As boxing seemed to be turning a corner in terms of popularity, the Second World War broke out in Europe, drawing Britain and by association its colonies into the 145 Adis WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) Apr. 26, 1938. 146 Ibid. 147 Ibid. 148 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) May 18, 1938.
127 Figure 3 1 0 . Ad for a boxing show . WAP May 14 , 1938 . Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. fray. Leisure pursuits, like sports and especially boxing, were minimized, but not abandoned. T he war did bring to the fore several questions about the manhood of the colony, as the draft and the need for soldiers to defend Britain exacerbated concerns of race weakness. Boxing continued during the war, as events were held in support of the war effort and boxing itself was used as a training regime for the soldiers, which further linked boxing to national pride and ideals of healthy masculinity. Boxing in La gos During WWII and its effects on Manliness The fact that boxing had been part of the Nigerian colony for more than 10 years at the start of the war and was not, according to the Europeans in the city, attracting more Nigerian patronage, was just as troub ling for colonial officials as it was for Williams and Azikiwe . In 1940, the NDT ran an editorial lamenting the lack of enthusiasm by Nigerians for the sport and its effects on Nigerian manhood: Somehow or other, boxing as a form of sport does not seem to take on very much among the general masses of the sporting public of Nigeria, which is definitely a pity, when it is considered that as a means of developing perfect physical balance and vigour, accurate judgment and
128 scrupulous fairness in dealing with an opponent, there is nothing to beat it in the world of sports. 149 As European notions of sport and its usefulness were met with opposition or indifference from the Nigerians, the fact that boxing was not gaining traction was disturbing. There was no doubt to colonial officials and Europeans in general that boxing was one of the best sports for personal self improvement, discipline, and physical well being. It was also a sport that could help in another perceived problem the loss or degeneration of manhood am ong Nigerian urban males. 150 were more like mentally and physically, and thus not real men , which separated them from Europeans. 151 As Carolyn Brown saw with Enugu Colliery workers, they could at once be seen both as and as workplace. 152 For colonial officials brought up in the era of sports, manhood was molded and forged through sporting prowess, as noted in Chapter 2. The war had brought out the need for not only physically fit men, but also those with strength and courage and toughness. Even though Nigerians had not yet taken to boxing, it was becoming more popular. Those who stake their belief in this noble sport [boxing] and are convinced that the rising manhood of Nigeria has much to gain from it, are not 149 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Oct. 31, 1940. 150 Ibid. 151 See Brown, 152 Carolyn Brown, and Igbo Notions of Masculinity in the Nigeria Coal Industry, 1930 Miescher (eds.) Men and masculinities in modern Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 156 174.
129 discouraged in their effort to bring its claim forcibly before the sporting public of Nigeria. Several attempts have been made in this direction, and the Nigeria Boxing Club is bravely carrying on the tradition. 153 Although new ideas about Nigerian manhood were rising, many believed that boxing should play a major rol e in supporting this. As sporting prowess, masculinity, and health were becoming intricately linked, and the war raged on, a sport like boxing with its physicality and war like aggression was considered a remedy for these qualities lacking in the Nigerian population. The NDT lamented the lack of healthy men in Nigeria at a become somewhat trite , but for all that it is still as true as when it was first uttered, and if any countr y is badly in need of healthy bodies as well as sound minds, it is a young and 154 Here again we see the link between health and citizenship, that the future of the colony required more men the likes of which boxing shaped. The quote also alludes to a growing country, one growing up that needed shaping. Boxing was supposed to cure one of the most important problems facing Nigeria at the time a lack of manhood among the rising generation. In an article describing one of the war time fundraising tournaments, the NDT expressed hope that the male community, much in need of the attributes to be gained from boxing, would eventually embrace the sport. 155 The article made it clear that by supporting the sport (and war effort), one was al so promoting healthy Nigerian men, who would then become better 153 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Oct. 31, 1940. 154 Ibid. 155 Ibid.
130 workers and citizens because of their healthy bodies. Support and promotion of boxing was thus linked to the overall development of boys, men, Lagos, and the country as a whole. Building on t his, promoters staged tournaments and promotions in aid of the war, with the proceeds donated to the war effort. sporting events, with soccer matches as well as boxing tournaments. 156 On Oct ober 31 st funds for the British war effort, thus linking civic and national duty in wartime to boxing. The event featured known Jackie Brown of Ibadan, as well as being patronized by the Governor, Sir Bernard Bourdillon. 157 The inclusion of the Governor as the patron of the event not only made clear the event had t as well. The promotion was dubbed as 158 T he tournament was a financial success. The audience members were warned from the thought that they are aiding a worthy cause, they can also rest assured that they are going to see a first class display. Both the officials of the Club and the proprietors of the Royal Hotel have left nothing undone that is possible to them to m ake 156 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) match between the Olubadan XI (Ibadan) and Lagos Town council, with Azikiwe as a linesmen. The African Pictures Co. sponsored the event and invited both teams to the movie after the match. 157 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Oct. 29, 1940. 158 Ibid.
131 159 Included in the fight card were Jackie Brown. 160 With tickets starting at 3/ , the tournament raised Â£11/8/ af ter paying expenses. 161 Also, in November 1940, the Marine Boxing Club held a boxing tournament which raised more money than most other charities at the time . In fact, the Â£ 11/4S/2D, which was almost double the Â£ 6 that the Army Charity Football match at the Rex Cinema grounds raised. 162 a spectator sport was not catching on with the Lagosian population. That was not blamed on the European popul ation , our leading men give their support and patronage to the sport [of boxing]. It has come to our knowledge that a number of them have been specially appealed to in connection been asked to patron ize the event and refused, sho ws the distrust of boxing especially public support has hitherto been denied Boxing as a form of sport in this country, we refer to in particular the African public . 163 Befor e the end of WWII, the usefulness of boxing amongst the African population was still in question , with the exception of some 159 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Oct. 31, 1940. 160 Ibid. 161 Ibid. 162 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) Nov 1, 1940. 163 Ibid.
132 members of the Nigerian elite . Boxing was not frequented as heavily by mainstream Nigerians as it was by the European population, a nd seem ed to be the purview of the African elite. One reason for this was the lack of government support. Despite Governors attending boxing matches and tournaments, not one Governor to date had given his patronage to a boxing club. 164 On November 24, 1944, the Lagos Boxing Club sent a letter to the new Governor of Nigeria, Sir Arthur Richards, seeking his patronage for the club and recounting the good deeds that it ha d done for the colony. 165 Richards had promised to support the well being of the colony and cl ubs that promoted such an end , and so the Club felt he would be willing . The letter was from Eugene Akerele, the that: We have been inspired and encouraged by your promise t o support any scheme which may be of material benefit to the Nigerian community and we have considered too well the encouragement which your post as Chief Patron of the above named club will give to the sporting enthusiasts and the boxing world of Nigeria . We are also aware of your great interest in sports and we sincerely hope you will encourage this club by accepting the Honourary Post of Chief Patron of the Nigerian Boxing Club. Then we shall be able to compare our status with the Gold Coast Boxing World . 166 The note was passed on to the Sub Inspector of the police who ran a background check for the Governor to determine the feasibility of becoming the Patron of the club and if purely 164 Boxing clubs in the United Kingdom had wealthy and elite patrons who supported them and p romoted them as well. Having a well known patron brought legitimacy to the club. 165 NAI C SO 26 26/5 Series 4 The Nigerian Boxing Club 166 NAI CSO 26 26/5 Series 4 The Nigerian Boxing Club
133 167 A memo from the Police recorded that they had spoken with local boxing aficionado Douglas J. Collister . 168 Collister told the Police that in Lagos the boxing was not up to par nor suitabl y organized. He attended some bouts but found them not good. Collister recommended not giving them his patronage because of the current state of affairs. Collister said he was planning on creating a board that would be linked with the Na tional Union Boxing Club in England. The Governor, after reading the report, followed Collister government, to boxing. 169 Not Quite Ready Col lister Boxing Club. Although boxing had made considerable strides throughout the interwar years, it was still lacking the necessary government and public support. The end of WWII woul d bring about a new sporting atmosphere in Lagos, one in which the currents of opinion and the fledgling structure that began in this interwar period could solidify into the phenomenon of boxing. The work of Azikiwe and Williams did not bear fruit before t he war, but afterwards their emphasis on character, health, and sportsmanship through 167 Collister , manager of th e West African Cold Storage, Lagos and Mr. D. E. Faulkner, the Colony Welfare Officer and it is now being run at the African Sailor's Inn at no. 42, Collist er was stationed in Port Harcourt and started a local board of control there to put boxing on a sound footing. 168 Douglas J. Collister would later become the first chairman of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Con trol. His influence and importance is discussed in Chapters Four and Five. 169 NAI CSO26 26/5 Series 4 The Nigerian Boxing Club. The folio also Mentions that the Railways has its own boxing club and that ZAC has a boxing wing at this time.
134 boxing took hold. Moreover, ideals of masculinity in Lagos showed a change as conversations over the ideal body and the qualities of the ideal man were reshaped into the ideal of a healthy muscular sporting body
135 CHAPTER 4 MASCULINITY IN POSTWAR LAGOS, 1945 1953 A Whole New City The Second World War ushered in a new era for boxing in Nigeria. Boxing before the war emphasized footwork, skill, stamina, and amateurism, as represented by the 1 The decade after the war dancing style of fighting, hard punches and knockouts in the ring, show boating, and the creation of a flashy persona, all of which was connect ed to a focus on prize money as opposed to mere respect. This shift in boxing mirrors larger changes within Lagosian society, which like the change in boxing, were prompted by the influx of male migrants and the return of soldiers who had participated in a masculine, sporting culture. This segment of the population focused their attention on making money and upward mobility, and they influenced the gendering of public space, which became male centric, based on physicality and masculine aggression. This new, urban lifestyle encouraged, and was encouraged by, the growing popularity of cowboy movies, sports clubs, bars and nightclubs, edgy music, and a new type of market literature that motivated a can do attitude. I argue that boxing represents both an importa nt lens through which to examine and an important tool in the linking of masculinity, nationalism, and health, and the emergence of a new urban masculini 1 Amateur boxin grew out of the amateurism movement of the late nineteenth century Britain. See for example J.A. Mangan, Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism: British Culture and Sport at Hom e and Abroad, 1700 1914 . (London: F. Cass, 1988).
136 Old School to New School: Boxing from 1945 to 1949 Althoug h historical shifts are never clear cut and the old school style of boxing lingered through the 1950s, I argue that this period of time marked a noticeable deviation to a new school style of boxing. As previously noted, prior to the war, boxers adopted the British stand up style of boxing , which focused on soun d technique, proper footwork , and crisp punches rather than knockdowns . 2 Pre war boxers were also primarily motivated by the prospects of internal development, character training, and boxing for the s ake of the art. Waxing nostalgically after the war, the Sports Editor of the NDT remarked that, pillars of the old edifice. Kid Davies fought in his days in America and England. Mr. Cowan in We st Africa smote the fistic air from Nigeria to Dakar. 3 These former boxers were worth emulating, the article wrote, for their skill, ability, and character and their ability to represent Nigeria abroad. Domingo Bailey, the flyweight champion of Nigeri a, had learned to fight from Cowan and Davies, and as one article noted, he was part of the pioneer group who made the old Hotel Metropole (Now Royal Hotel) a storm centre 4 Due to the lack of payment, promotion, and competition, h owever, Bailey chose not to fight or defend his title after 1947. 5 marked the end of a boxing era the end of the old school . 2 Journal of Historical Sociology 24. 4 (2011): 428 450. 3 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Aug 4 1949. Also see Makinde, Adeyinka 2004. Dick Tiger: the life and times of a boxing immortal. Tarentum, Pa: Word Association Publishers., Chapter 1 on the interwar boxing scene in Nigeria. 4 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Aug 4 1949 . 5 Ibid.
137 Beginning in 1945, a new school of boxers and boxing emerged who were more interested in fighting rather than boxing. These boxers valued knockout power, fast punching, and dancing rather than sound footwork and crisp punching. Boxing in Lagos 6 cared little for carefully calculated moves and a sound defense and instead carried out a haphazard offensive that was solely intended to achieve victory. 7 Near the end of 1948, the opening of the Colony Bo xing Club in Lagos staged a promotion to display its new members. But they were cautious and warne d boxing fans of what to expect: promised a high scientific show. In fact, no boxing club locally has ever reached that height. Boxing in Nigeria h as yet to be dev eloped but our boys can always g ive you 8 In addition to an unrefined approach to boxing, the new school boxers also appeared to be more interested in entertaining their audience rather than all owing the audience to merely observe their skill. In 1949, boxer Slugger Chocolate told the NDT that in a recent oyle (Israel Boyle) lost due to a lack of focus on the fight itself. Boyle had tried to dance and amuse the crowd rathe r than confront his opponent. Slugger vowed not to make the same mistake in his upcoming fight with 6 "Royal Hotel Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jun e 30 1947. 7 ibid. A lso on the card Blackie Power kno cked out Tiger Bruce. Capt JS Stocker and Mr Chani and Bob Savage were the judges, Dr BJ Ikpeme was the medical officer 8 Sports Editor, NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Sept. 28, 1948 .
138 Young Panther. 9 their individuality and to get the crowd involved. Boxers no longer expec ted their audience to remain passive. Instead, they understood the experience of boxing as a form of exchange between the boxer on stage and the audience below. Nigerian boxers appeared to be shaping the sport to fit their interests and ideals, moving fart her away immediately acceptable to all. For example, in one article, Douglas J. Collister condemned up and coming boxers for their dancing and jok ing around the ring, labeling their conduct unprofessional and unsportsmanlike. A consequence of this development was that many British and elite Nigerians turned away from the sport. However, even as boxing lost some of its original patrons, the new style gained a following from the importance in the Nigerian social events but the little that boxing enthusiasts have been able to do in organising this popular sport has so 10 11 The unsophisticated nature and the playful charm of boxing after t he war resonated with a segment of the population who required a physical outlet and heroes with which they could identify. 9 Sports Editor , NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Feb . 5 , 1949 . 10 "Tonight's Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), June 27, 1947. 11 Ibid.
139 WWII Africa and Training Soldiers The shift from scientific boxing to fighting was partly a consequence of the training that Nigeri an soldiers received during the war. British commanders trained their troops using boxing to instill courage, bravery, and character. The introduction of boxing and a sporting culture to Nigerians in the armed forces served to elevate boxing from an outlie r to an accepted athletic exercise and sport. When Nigerian soldiers returned home after the war, they brought with them a love for sport, boxing, and more generally, physical displays of manliness. It is within this context that we must place the developm ent of a new style of boxing. As several scholars have noted, WWII was a watershed moment in colonial history. 12 African colonies were not a far off periphery in the war, but an integral dimension of the global struggle for democracy. African resources con tinued and nourished the British war effort, while also supplying workers and soldiers that fought in places like the Middle East, Burma, and Europe. By May of 1945, more than 375,000 African soldiers had fought for the British, including over 90,000 from Nigeria. 13 As the daily lives of Africans by colonial powers and transformed social and economic 12 For example, see Judith Byfield, Preface, in Africa and World War II, edited by Judith A. Byfield, Carolyn A. Brown, Timothy Parsons, Ahmad Alawad Sikainga (Cambridge: Cambidge University Press, in Lisa Lindsay and Stephen Meischer, eds. 2003. Men and masculinities in modern Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 13 The Journal of Modern African Studies , Vol. 6, No. 2 (Aug., 1968), 129. Also see David Killingray, Fighting for Britain: A frican Soldiers in the Second World War (Rochester: James Currey, 2010), 46. According to N.J. Miners, All told, Nigeria supplied 121,652 men for the British war effort. N.J. Miners, The Nigerian Army 1956 1966 (London, 1971), 239.
140 14 When Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, the British turned to Nigeria, and West Africa generally, for labor, food, and resources such as coal, tin, and palm oil, and soldiers for combat. 15 Nigeria also raised a significant amount of money for the war effort. In fact, Gloria Chu ku estimates that Nigerians contributed approximately Â£211,000 to the Nigeria War Relief Fund. 16 Michael Crowder claims that Nigerian contributions for the British War Effort reached Â£409,255. 17 As such, Nigerians in the armed forces as well as at home played an integral role in the war. The use of boxing in the armed forces can be traced back to WWI. During WWI, the British used boxing to train soldiers for combat because the sport encouraged f ast reflexes, courage, and quick thinking, and because it offered a suitable training technique for the bayonet. 18 the same 19 Furthermore, 14 Byfield, Preface, xvii i. 15 Ibid, xix. The fall of Singapore meant that the British were deprived of tin, palm oil, and cocoa. Also see Killingray, Fighting for Britain . 16 Second Worl Gendering the African Diaspora: Women, Culture and Historical Change in the Caribbean and Nigerian Hinterland (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010). Â£211,000 in 1945 has the ec onomic power of Â£39,520,000 in 2015. https://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ (2016) accessed May 5 2016. 17 History of West Africa (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 610. 18 H.F.S. Huntington, Boxing, The Physical and Ethical Value of (Lecture), Royal United Services Institution, Journal, 65, (1920: Feb./Nov.), 493 502 19 Huntington, H.F.S., Boxing, The Physical and Ethical Value of (Lecture), Royal Unite d Services Institution, Journal, 65, (1920: Feb./Nov.), 493 502. Major Huntington spoke of the inclusion of boxing in . . . but so far as boxers are concerned a man requires courage to take a beating and still come up for more. The next thing is self denial and discipline. In the boxer you want considerable discipline; he has to give up smoking and drinking and live
141 military c ommanders also saw that boxing promoted discipline, helped soldiers expel and encouraged physical fitness. 20 Armed forces officials also saw sport as a means of social control. Boxing was already popular with West African recruits at the start of the war, especially those from the Gold Coast, but participation by soldiers depended more or less on the willingness of officers to promote it. 21 Sport became a sanctioned activity within the King's African Rifles (KAR) an d Royal West African Fighting Force (RWAFF) in the 1930s, yet no two units were the same in terms of what games they played and what sport was popular with soldiers. 22 Boxing was a part of the RWAFF and its training before and throughout the war. 23 This an abstemious life and do what his trainer tells him . . . the next thing is to keep yourself fit . . . y ou see 20 Killingray, "Fighting for Britain," 101. Timothy Parsons . The African Rank and File: Social Implications of Colonial Milit 1964 ( Portsmouth: Heinemann , 1999), 123 . Throughout Sub Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History (New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1987), 114. As Parsons found for officers in the King's African Rifles (KAR), sport was a way to ensure that a soldier spent his pent up energies on something wholesome rather than women and alcohol. 20 21 Killingray, "Fighting for Britain," 101. 22 Parsons, African, 123 118 119. Although sport was important in the lives of Nigerian soldiers during the war, the ability to play sports and professional training were not reasons why Nigerians joined the armed forces, nor was it a tactic of recruitment by the British. Recruitment of Nigerian soldiers came from a number of ethnic groups, but none more heavily recruited than the Hausa did. The recruitment of Hausa soldiers, long thought to be a martial race, was the norm until 194 2, when recruitment in Nigeria opened up to others. So pervasive were Hausas in the Nigerian armed forces up to 1942, that Hausa was the lingua franca of the RWAFF, only changing to English during WWII. As Kilingray notes in his study of African soldiers in WWII, Nigerian soldiers enlisted in the army for a whole host of reasons. Several examples were found of men joining for jobs, which were scarce during the Great Depression and early war period, or to escape forced labor in tin mines or on farms. Howeve r, overwhelmingly Nigerians entered the war for adventure. Colonial propaganda in films and pamphlets appealed to young men to join for adventure, serve the empire, and to the war and an important aspect of their service and definition of their manhood. 23 123. Clayton also displays a picture of a session of boxing instruction at the West African Army Physical Train ing Centre in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1942. Boxing was not introduced in the Kings African Rifles until the 1950s. See Parsons, 124.
142 mult i functional aspect of boxing motivated commanders of British Armed forces in Africa to adopt boxing as a training tool during World War II. 24 Since boxing was an equal opportunity sport, the reception of boxing among Nigerian soldiers was fairly positive. In her examination of sports in the segregated United States armed forces during World War II, Wanda Wakefield explains that African American soldiers used athletics as a source of confidence, to defy racial stereotypes, contest military inequality, and ex press their masculinity. 25 Boxing played a similar role among Nigerian soldiers, providing a democratic space within which Nigerians could fight and even defeat white opponents. 26 It thus comes as no surprise that b oxing during WWII became popular game wi 27 Scholars such as Ahmad Alawad Sikainga have noted that while the political ramifications of World War II have received significant scholarly discussion, the social aspects of the war need more detailed study. 28 We can begin to fill in the details of this aspect by considering the role that boxing played in connecting physical skill and entertainment. In addition to assisting in the training of Nigerian soldiers for combat and providing a democratic space for segregated troops, boxing also served as a form of amusement. The armed forces often put on championship tournaments in Lagos that 24 116 121 25 For more information, see Wanda Wakefield, Playing to Win: Sports in the American Military, 1898 1945 (Albany: SUNY Press, 1997). 26 Roy Ankrah, My Life Story (Accra: The West Afr ican Graphic, Co., Ltd., 1952). 27 Parsons, African Rank And File, 124 . 28 Africa and World War II , edited by Judith A. Byfield, Carolyn A. Brown, Timothy Parsons, Ahmad Alawad Sikainga, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 501.
143 attracted many fans. Competitors came from armed forces bases across Nigeria, including Borgu, Kaduna, and Zaria, to name a few. For example, Ro 29 He had begun to box at the age of 15, and as he wrote in his [in the armed forces] to continue to learn boxing from man y champions and b oxing experts, 30 Nigerian boxer soldiers like Ankrah were a curiosity due to their speed and stamina, as well as their ability to fight bare footed, and as a result, they captured the attention of the wider boxing world. One Ankrah fought at a pace seen seldom in a British ring. The whole time he was showing a boxing spirit typical of the RWAFF. Ankrah's extraordinary speed, energy and toughness are causing quite a lot of people to prophesy very big 31 As Killingray notes, the entertainment that Nigerian boxers offered made the tournaments held by armed forces very popular affairs, and as a result of the high attendance, they raised a lot of money for the war efforts . 32 More significant for the topic at hand, these tournaments also helped to change popular perceptions of boxing as a useless British sport to one of national importance winning the war . When Nigerian soldiers returned home after the war, they continued to box and attend boxing shows and tournaments. Ankrah himself would go on to become the British Empire Featherweight Champion in 1951. World War II thus channeled the 29 "Gold Coast's Roy Ankrah to Box in Lagos" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), March 21, 1947. 30 Roy Ankrah, My Life Story , 2. 31 "Gold Coast's Roy Ankrah to Box in Lagos" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), March 21 1947. 32 Killingray, Fighting for Britain, 242 3.
144 brutality of combat into the civility of boxing, and the sport of boxing could replicat e the aggressiveness and physical aspects of war during times of peace. In addition, the use of boxing as part of the armed forces made boxing more acceptable within Nigerian society, not only as a form of entertainment but also as a model of masculinity. be defeated through strength in order to protect the weak, and soldiers fought for those unable to fight for themselves. Within this context, Bishop S.C. Phillips, a former bo xer, bully and fighting him, in order to rescue the weak from suffering, I expect [he] would be manly 33 similar to an evil army, was justified and morally right. 34 As the war came to a close, the valorization of soldiers and the growing approval of soldiers as boxers e ncouraged others to try their hand at boxing and replicate the matches that had enjoyed so much success among the populous . Post War Africa, Nigeria, and Development The Lagos that Nigerian soldiers returned to was not the same city it had been prior to t he war. The colonial government had assumed new orders and new objectives, marking the introduction of an era of development in Nigeria that historians have dubbed the Second Colonial Occupation. British officials sent hundreds of technicians 33 DS (Lagos, Nigeria), September 22, 1 945. Emphasis Added. Phillips, who became a Bishop of Lagos, was known locally as the Fighting Parson for both his critiques of social evils and because he was a former boxer. In 1953, he had a change of heart about boxing, and is the subject of Chapter Seven. 34 Ibid.
145 and experts t o Africa in order to make the colonies more efficient and thus more politically, economically, and socially in order to extract as much wealth as possible to rebuild Britain. A 35 Due to the significant role that Nigeria had played in the war effort and the suffering its people endured as a result of the war, including inflation, scarci ty of goods, and poor living conditions, soldiers and civilians alike expected rewards. 36 The British invested in the improvement of education and the industry, skill, 37 In fact, the British government instituted a ten year plan, developed and passed by the Nigerian Legislative Council and colonial government, that allocated over Â£7 million for social services like educat ion and teacher training, and for opening more secondary schools, as well as over Â£10 million for health and medical facilities. 38 As Falola and Heaton and its development , yet since oversight on the use of funds by the British was lax, most of the money went unused. 39 In general, British efforts to develop existing 35 Toyin Falola, Develo pment planning and decolonization in Nigeria , (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1996), 22. 36 Falola, Development planning , 22. 37 Papers on Colonial Affairs, no. 3. London: H.M.S.O., 1944, quote found in Falola, Development planning , 50. 38 Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton, A History of Nigeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 146 7. See also Falola, Economic reforms and modernization in Nigeria , 58 61. 39 Most of the money in fact went towards agricultural production at the expense of indigenous industry, which continued to suffer. For more information about the economics of the postwar period, see Ayodeji
146 infrastructures or establish new ones in Nigeria and to better the circumstances of its people were simply not enough. Scholars such as Olusanya have demonstrated that Nigerian soldiers came back 40 They had enjoyed a steady wage in the armed services, and upon their return, they wished to maintain a higher standard of living. 41 Such a goal was not easy to achieve since jobs were scarce in the provinces and the standard of living was lower in the villages. 42 In addition, even though the colonial government enacted legislation in 1945 that demanded that ex serviceman constitute at least 10% of a company employees, such jobs rarely paid more than 1/ per diem. 43 This stood in stark contrast to the 1/9 and 3/9 per diem they earned during the war. 44 Although economic prospects were dismal in any location, few veteran Nigerian soldiers wanted to return to their villages since there was nothing there to attract them. Instead, they stayed in cities like Olukoju, The "Liverpool" of West Africa: The Dynamics and Impact of Maritime Trade in Lagos, 1900 1950 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2004). and Olufemi Ekundare, An Economic History of Nigeria , 1860 1960 (New York: Africana Pub. Co., 1973). 40 Olusanya, Servicemen in Nigerian Politics 41 Ibid., 238. 42 Ibid., 241. More so than anything else, at least for this chapter, Africans experienced heroism and were capable of acts of heroism, valor, and courage just as much as Europeans. This created what Olusanya servicemen in Nigeria, but approximately 73,000 were employed, adding to the discontent with ex acrifice. 43 Akin Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria (London: University of London Press, 1969), 261. The Employment of Ex Servicemen Ordinance, No. 48 required all companies with more than 10 African employees to register with the government, and then abso rb ex servicemen until their workforce was at least 10% African veteran in composition. 44 Falola, Development Planning , 43.
147 ser vice in the armed forces that a life of farming would not satisfy. 45 Adding to this influx of soldiers, Lagos continued to attract a large number of migrants to the city. Although farming and agricultural work remained a lucrative business in Nigeria after the war, it did not provide enough jobs or wages to those suffering in an economy still feeling the effects of the Great Depression and World War II. As a result, many made their way to Lagos, the economic center of the colony, in the hopes of finding wor k. Inundated with soldiers and migrants, the population of Lagos grew from 126,000 in 1931 to 230,000 people in 1950, an impressive rate of 3.3% per annum . 46 The young men who constituted much of the population growth arrived in Lagos with dreams and goals to better their lives, but their numbers made attaining those dreams culture of individualism, as [each] person sought the means to survive and climb up the 47 Wi thin this context, the boxer in Lagos came to symbolize the struggles of those in the city, and the success of the boxer climbing the ladder of local rankings was imitative of those climbing the social ladder. As a result, many young soldiers and migrants came to identify with the boxers they observed. They were attracted to the idea that any man, regardless of social status or birth, had an opportunity to fight and win if he worked hard enough. 45 Servicemen in Nigerian Politics, 226. 46 Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 257. 47 Falola, Economic re forms and modernization in Nigeria, 1945 1965 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2004), 13.
148 Incoming migrants and soldiers were also attracted to boxing due to the changing urban culture. As Falola argues, the cities favored the new class of educated elites because of their access to jobs, money, and influence. 48 And, although many people struggled to make ends meet, they longed to emulate the lifestyle of the elite. The money that boxers could win in matches offered an opportunity to fulfill this goal. In the late 1940s boxers could expect to earn 5 shillings a round, much higher than unskilled laborers or soldiers could earn in the same time. B y 1954 , boxe rs demanded no less than Â£1 per round. 49 the late 1940s and early 1950s, he routinely fought for a lump sum of Â£2 a fight. 50 For perspective, the Nigerian median annual income in 1950 51 was Â£34 , a sum that could be earned, if the boxer was good enough, after four fights. 51 Furthermore, even through 1954, unskilled manual laborers made roughly 4 shillings a day ( approximately a pound a week) meaning one 8 round fight at a pound per round was the e quivalent of 2 months labor. 52 S ince many boxers in the boom years boxed on average every 2 3 weeks, and sometimes more frequently than that, a boxer was able to make significant 48 Falola, Economic reforms , 14 5. 49 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), August 15, 1954. 50 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), June 17, ty of Wyoming, accessed November 11, 2015, http://www.uwyo.edu/numimage/currency.htm 51 Kilby, African Enterprise , 3. According to Kilby, Â£34 was the average for the Western Region of Nigeria (of whi 52 NDT , August 18, 1954. A proposal for a minimum wage of 5 shillings a day for manual labour was rejected in House of Repr esentatives.
149 money themselves. 53 The elite vision of leisure included the proliferation of s ports clubs and athletic competitions. Boxing thus allowed young men to engage with elite culture, and the values the sport emphasized complimented their own while earning enough money to pay for a better life. Thus, the combination of a growing population of young men and their post war economic circumstances and social values served to boost the popularity of boxing, enabling it to overcome its initial difficulty in gaining adherents. New Optimistic Times and Muscular Citizenship The end of WWII ushered in an era of tenacity and individualism in Lagos that at once encouraged an interest in boxing and was encouraged by the values inherent in boxing. Boxing became a part of the gendering of public space in Lagos. In her examination of postwar trade unions a nd football clubs, Lindsey noted that public spaces in Lagos became more male centric, since men dominated the public sphere through union participation, social clubs, and sporting clubs/participation. 54 This was not by accident, as Saheed Aderinto contends that the colonial state played a part in experiences, education, and sport. 55 Boys were pushed into sports at school, whi ch assertion, physical play, and prowess. 56 I add to this argument by 53 Fighting once a month for a year meant a boxer could receive 96 pounds per year, nearly 3 times the median average income in 1954. 54 Southweste Leisure in urban Africa (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003). 55 in Saheed Aderinto (eds.) Children and Childho od in Colonial Nigerian Histories (New York: Palgrave, 2015), 12. As girls colonial society. 56 Ibid., 12.
150 showing how this new male public sphere was based, in part, on the new physicality and masculine aggression as displayed in boxing, sport, and entertainment like cowboy m ovies and instilled through school sporting culture. Paralleling and supporting this, after WWII Nigeria experienced a shift similar to what occurred in the United States from 57 Influenced by these circumstances, sports and the institutions surrounding it provided a channel through which an aggressive, male centered physical Muscular Citizenship . 58 Muscular Citizenship , the linki ng of a physically displayed masculinity to membership in the political body, was a response by young men to the new realities of education, and labor in the postwar city. Th ere was also a rise in nationalist feeling, leading to a strong link between the strength of Nigerian men and the perception that they should be able to rule themselves. As Luise White notes, debates about wide postwar obses 59 Much of the literature about masculinity in African has focused on the colonial fixation of modern men and marriage as a way to curb the male politicization of migrants. White argues, was equated by the political 60 African women and a steady 57 A Companion to American Sport History (Malden, MA: Wiley, 2014), 496. 58 Lindsay, Trade Unions and Football Clubs 59 Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa, 178. 60 Ibid.
151 domestic life for men, according to the colonial thinking , would keep them complacent and away from the pull of political action. 61 Due to the arri val of so many soldiers and migrants searching for work, however, women who might make potential wives were not readily available, and colonial leaders believed that men needed other outlets through which to release pent up energies. Consequently, much of the energy of the colonial government went to curbing the political culture of migrant men in the cities. 62 Similar to the idea that male sexual energies needed to be replaced in order for men to function normally and productively, unmarried men needed to e ngage in sports in order to aggression, in addition to the desire to enjoy elite forms of leisure, the valorization of martial leadership, and the growing number of spor ts clubs in Lagos and other cities shaped the urban Nigerian male culture. attitude after WWII. Action was the new expectation for male Nigerians, not signing petitions and waitin g patiently. This is reflected in the newspaper articles and comments about the policies of the colonial government. For example, H.R. Abdallah wrote a letter to the WAP passed the age of petition is the age of action plain, blunt and positive 63 Abdallah wanted action from the British as well from Nigerians who were unsure of the rising nationalism and calls for independence. Nigerians like Abdallah 61 Lindsay, Putting the family on track 313 . 62 178. 63 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) , February 10, 1949.
152 believed that anythin g was possible in the postwar world for the ambitious, hard working man. Many young men who eventually chose to box also felt infected with such an optimistic spirit, like future champions Dick Tiger and Hogan Bassey. 64 This perception was supported further by the trend of Onitsha Market literature. 65 Obiechina argues that this was a unique ly African literature, immensely popular in the postwar cities, written in English, and consumed entirely by Africans. 66 With the rapid growth of literacy and availability o f printing equipment after the war, mass production of these chapbooks, as this literature was commonly known, was for the first time possible and desirable. This literature merged old traditional cultural norms/ideals/ethics with the aggressive, individ ualistic values of the contemporary urban society. 67 As Karin between rural and urban (with the associated pairs traditional and modem, indigenous and Western); between urb an danger and urban pleasure; and around the nature of 68 According to Barber, the Onitsha Market Literature depicted the urban setting as a utopia for young aspirations and upward mobility. 69 Young men and women of t he postwar city were less convinced that fate existed, and that they were in fact the shapers of their own destiny. 70 Even more 64 Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Boxing (London: T. Nelson, 1963) and Makinde, Dick Tiger . 65 Emmanuel Obiechina, An African Popular Literature (1973). The first chapbook was printed in 1947. 66 Ibid. 67 Ibid. 68 African Studies Review , Vol. 30, No. 3 (Sep., 1987) , 49 . 69 Ibid., 51. 70 DS (Lagos, Nigeria ) , September 8, 1945.
153 indicative of the emergence of a forceful masculinity, the authors of this literature chose pseudonyms that emphasized strength a nd advancement: Speedy Eric, Strong Man of the Pen, Highbred Maxwell, and Money Hard. 71 These names portray an expertise but also an exaggeration of skills or masculinity in order to convince others to take their advice. Boxing was part of this shift, and like the Onitsha authors, Nigerian boxers chose extravagant names and titles to promote their style, strength, and personae. 72 The NDT professional boxers that we come acro ss astonishing pseudonyms such as Sleeping Morris, Tony Baby Day, Hollywood Terror, Super Human Power, Tiger Jack Buffalo. Some even adopt Hollywood film star cowboy names like William Boyd, Billy the Kid, 73 Other famous boxers with extravagant ring names included Bad Medicine, 99 Horse Power, Atomic Destroyer, Slugger Chocolate, Johnny Fears No Fall, Dead Rain, Merciless Devil, Stormy Weather, Homicide Black the list goes on. The importance of these names was twofold; it was a way skill, strength, and courage, while also eliciting excitement in fans to see them fight. Linking their ring personae to famous boxers or cowboys who they had seen in movies (discussed below) was part of claiming and displaying their toughness, ruggedness, and manliness in public. 71 Obiechina, 13. 72 Walter LaFeber, Michael Jordan and the new global capitalism (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999). 73 Horatio Agheda, "The Nigerian Boxer and His Name," NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) , December 27, 1953.
154 Boxing was part of a larger shift in Lagos and Nigeria in terms of celebrating rugged individualism, which was highlighted by the changing scope of entertainment. One of the biggest impacts on this was the spread and popularity of movies in postwar Lagos, specifically boxing and cowboy movies that explicitly celebrated the individual and his ability to triumph through fighting, tenacity, and violence. Post War Entertainment Begins Movies and Boxing Th e war changed sport and especially boxing into a more acceptable and desirable form of entertainment, and despite (or perhaps because of) its violence, one that was sought after and attended in large numbers after the war. Boxing and other aggressive sport s mirrored other forms of entertainment in the city, especially movies, which exploded in popularity . 74 T he most popular films shown in Nigeria through the post war years were American Westerns . 75 As Brian Larkin noted, cowboy films in Northern Nigeria like Ride Em Cowboy 76 The colonial government recognized this popularity and combined education al films about agriculture, for example, with films about sport and cowboys to attract larger audiences 74 For information on the spread of Western culture through movies in postwar Africa, see Charles The American Historical Review , Vol. 106, No. 1 (Feb., 2001), pp. 81 105. 75 The International Journal of African Historical Studies , Vol. 35, No. 1, Special Issue: became the most popular films and were so widely shown that, by the end of the Second World War, for 76 Brian Larkin, Signal and Noise: Med ia, Infrastructure, And Urban Culture In Nigeria . (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 87 89.
155 to the former . 77 Larkin also pointed out several examples of colonial reports that children 78 Cowboy films were widely attended by large sections of the population, with no clear class distinction in the movie goer . One of the reasons the rugged independence displayed by the c owboys th wanted to imitate, which included fighting, bodybuilding, and martial arts . 79 Cowboy movies 80 Like boxing, cowboy movies provided young men with a 81 One response to curbing such violence was to get youth off the streets of Lagos and into more constructive leisure pu rsuits like sport and boxing. Many in Lagos blamed the American Western movies for not presenting a worthy archetypical man to emulate and called for movies with strong, moral male role models who could instill character in youth moviegoers. 82 Jean Jacoby, a lecturer at the Ibadan Grammar School, reported that since so many Nigerians 77 Larkin, Signal and Noise , 87. 78 Ibid., 90. 79 Ibid., 138, 168. For a comparable case, see Hortense Powdermaker, Coppertown: changing Africa; the human situatio n on the Rhodesian Copperbelt on the Zambezi, pp. 103 117, and Didier Gondola, Tropical Cowboys: Westerns, violence, and masculinity in Kinshasa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). 80 Gondol a, Tropical Cowboys , 2 3. 81 Ibid. 82 part 2, NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) , Feb. 9, 1951.
156 attended movies i t was important that these films be of educational quality for youths and present lessons that would translate to the postwar world. 83 Even before the popularit y of American Western movies, Nigerian s in Lagos were exposed to c owboy culture and ideals through the newspapers. In fact, the WAP ran a daily cartoon in the late 1930s which depicted heroic cowboys prevailing against vill 84 Moreover, during the groups, where they learned cowboy songs, dressed as cowboys in uniforms (similar to soldiers), drank palm wine, drilled and mar ched in parades, and performed at local ceremonies and parties (see figures 3 1 and 3 2). 85 As P.E.H. Hair described in 1950, the various Lagosian cowboy groups had been in existence since the 1930s, and their 86 I n other words, learning to be soldiers and to fight. Cowboys would drill like soldiers, whom they also wanted to emulate since, 87 Further linking cowboy movies to boxing was the fact that fight ing was inherent in the films, something that many men found exciting. Hortense Powdermaker found that men liked the fighting scenes immensely, and several men commented that they learned to box because of 83 NDT (L agos, Nigeria) , Feb. 8, 1951. Jacoby remarked in 1951 that 8 out of 10 Nigerians went to the cinema on a weekly basis. 84 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria) , Dec 1937 . 85 History in Africa , V ol. 28 (2001), pp. 83 93 86 Ibid, 91. 87 Ibid, 91 2.
157 cowboy films in Northern Rhodesia. 88 Cowboy groups, Captains often fought one another using their fists for honor, pride, and respect. 89 Although dismissed by elders and elites as the misplaced energy of ruffians, the ideals and images of cowboys, soldiering, and boxing became l inked in the minds of many Nigerian youth for several reasons. All were foreign imports, all had a degree of physicality and adventure, all had uniforms and most importantly, all praised courage, strength, discipline, health, and honor. For Nigerian youth, the fighting in the cowboy movies and in interclub altercations mirrored the boxers in the ring and those famous boxers they saw in boxing movies and championship replays. Beyond the American Westerns, another movie genre popular in Nigerian cinemas w ere boxing films. Between the late 1930s and early 1950s, boxing films were a regular feature in Nigerian cinemas , both fiction and non fiction . 90 In fact, boxing championship fight replays , like those featuring the Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, were a frequ ent showing and eagerly attended. 91 Moreover, t he British Council sponsored films on amateur boxing training in an effort to promote the values of amateur boxing and health, along with discipline, courage, and character, to young Nigerians. Future World Mid dleweight Champion Dick T iger remembered watching 88 Powdermaker, Coppertown . 89 91 2. 90 For example, boxing films like Golden Boy, Kid Galahad, Gentleman Jim, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, City for Conquest, Body and Soul (all films from the 1930s and early 1940s) were shown in Nigerian cinemas in the postwar years. 91 Interview with Abraham Adeyemi Jones, May 2012 , Lagos , Nigeria and Olu Moses June 2012 , Lagos , Nigeria.
158 Figure 4 NDT , April 28, 1949. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Figure 4 NDT , April 28, 1949. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria.
159 fights in theatres in Aba, Eastern Nigeria, specifically to watch and learn from his stance, footwork, and his tactics. 92 W hen asked why and how he started boxing in great [boxing] Negroes like Henry Armstrong, [World Heavyweight Champion] Joe Louis and 93 This dissemination of black boxing heroes like Louis and the rugged Hollywood cow boy figure would meld together after the war, when news, movies, and even advertisements using boxing began to rise and take shape. So close did they become that boxers, as mentioned above, adopted fighting names like Texas Kid or Small Montana to emulate the fighting cowboy in their boxing. As another example of the ties tragically passed away in 1952 from a boxing incident , was also a member of a local cowboy group, and the g roup led his funeral procession through the streets of Lagos. 94 As the media portrayed both the boxer and cowboy as individuals who were above all rugged, tough, courageous, and willing to fight, Nigerian youth gravitated towards this representation of a ma n, his actions, behaviors, and self made tough persona. The attractiveness of this model was compounded by the exigencies of the postwar city, where competition for resources, money, jobs, and women was intense and could lead to violent altercations. As bo xing began its merger with the violent urban youth culture, it was aided by the expansion in boxing clubs, tournaments, and company 92 Makinde, Dick Tiger , 11 . 93 Ibid. 94 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria) , August 14, 1952.
160 sports clubs founded by men like Azikiwe (as discussed in C hapter 3) that began to offer boxing to its middle class employee s. Moreover, sport clubs, Boy Scouts, and appeal and simultaneously the reach of the sport. Clubs, Companies, and Boxing Men migrated to Lagos for jobs not only to pay taxes or fulfill colonial aspirations for employment and labor, but, as other scholars have noted, more importantly for the simple need to secure enough money for marriage. 95 As marriage and purchasing land were integral steps towards relieving dependence on fath ers and kin, and thus being considered an adult, cash from wage labor in cities expedited the process and 96 As noted previously, the postwar period saw the expansion of employment opportunities in Lagos that attr acted many young men to migrate to the city . Once in Lagos, they interacted with a colonial and company system of labor that had changed after WWII. Companies and government saw the social welfare of Nigerians as an important part of maintaining loyalty, d iscipline, and worker morale. 97 The postwar era in Lagos saw the expansion of companies interested in the Companies like the Railways and the United Africa Company expanded their sports and 95 Stephen Meischer, Men and masculinities in modern Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 140, and J. D.Y. Peel, Ijeshas and Nigerians: the incorporation of a Yoruba kingdom, 1890s 1970s ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Pres s , 1983), 118 9. 96 Peel, Ijeshas and Nigerians, 118 9. 97 Lindsay, Putting the Family 318.
161 recreation clubs for employees to enjoy in their leisure time, hiring coaches, building development of industrial men to shape their bodies for work, an d as a way to curb politicization of their employees. 98 Nigerians enthusiastically engaged in such organizations, and indeed had had a cultural tradition of organized sports before colonialism. As John Blacking notes, sports like wrestling, dancing, gamblin g, and board games were all popular with Yorubas and Igbos, and inter village competitions were widespread pastimes. 99 Thus, as Lindsey and others argue, sport and athleticism in ment 100 What changed was the sports played, the league infrastructure available, and, increasingly after WWII, an enlarged audience of sports fans willing to pay for such entertainment. Regardless of their motives, the move to Lagos an d urban life also brought many men, some for the first time, in contact with European sports like boxing. Postwar Lagos for youth (Chapter 5 ) , as well as clubs attached to employment, like Railways Athletic Club, or clubs accepting members whether employed or not. After WWII, these all had 98 Ibid. that sports were encouraged as a part of employe e welfare efforts, which it was hoped would he lp 99 Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History (New York: Africana Publishing Co, 1987). 100 Lindsay, Putting the Family on Track 311.
162 years was the shift towards professional boxing, and with it the ability to earn significant money fighting in the ring. Although Railways and some other companies had created clubs and sporting teams before the war, it was often because of the demands of African workers themselves for more teams, equip ment, and training in the sports. As Lindsey found with Railway workers, the demands came from mainly demobilized soldiers or those who recently graduated from the school seeking to replicate the athletic culture. 101 Companies saw sports as a constructive wa y for Nigerian employees to let off steam and divert excess energies. For employees, sport was a way to interact and socialize with peers, network, and most importantly, provided recreation in response to the tediousness of work. In many cases, workers use d these clubs to gain access to employment or as avenues to European patronage. 102 Lindsey found that on many . 103 Thus, beyond the civilizing effect and inculcation of ideals and character that sport should provide, Nigerians themselves saw value in sports for their own upward mobility, skill development, personal pride, and even fame. Joining a company sport provi ded camaraderie, established connections, and provided a space for socialization, but in many cases also gave Nigerians access to sporting equipment, training, coaching, league competitions, and exercise for health. 101 Ibid., 313. 102 Ibid, 318. 103 Ibid, 315.
163 As discussed above, Lindsey has argued t hat the postwar period saw the gendering of public space in Lagos and other Nigerian cities towards a male public sphere. 104 reinforced the idea that bodily prowess and self control , teamwork, leadership, and 105 I argue in addition that the male physical gendering of public space was influenced by the notio n that an individual male was required to have a strong, muscular body for success in the public spaces of the colonial city, his job, and politics. Boxing was part of many of these new company sports clubs , and Nigerians opened boxing clubs in response to growing demand. Moreover, older sports clubs like those formed by companies or those formed by the Social Welfare Office ( discussed in Chapter 5 ) also began to offer boxing to its patrons. The N DT noticed the growing enthusiasm for boxing: was in existence and entertain ing the public with boxing contests, but the year 1946 opened with a pleasing array of new comers of outstanding ability from some new boxing teams such as the I 106 In 1946, there were only five amateur boxing clubs, but this number grew to over 30 by 1950. Although no formal organization for competitions existed, inter co mpany and club tournaments gave employees and club amateurs a chance to test their skill, mettle, and 104 See Lindsay, Trade Unions 105 Lindsay, 323. Also see Lindsay, Trade Unions 106 Kid Richards, "Plans & Advancement of the Imperial Boxing Cl ub" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), June 11 , 1947. Kid Richards was the Manager of the Imperial Boxing Clubs
164 courage while promoting the company or club. Although these clubs grew in size, boxing still struggled to gain adherents. The newspapers in early 1946 co mmented that the organization of boxing left much to be desired. Lack of organization was one culprit in the lack of boxing popularity. As the NDT noted, the Nigerian social events but the little that boxing enthusiasts have been able to do in organising this popular sport has so enliv ened interests and enthusiasm. 107 Nevertheless, by mid 1947 public interest was starting to change and coverage of boxing was become a more regular feature in the newspapers and radio of Lagos. Despite the increased promotion of boxing in clubs and companies, boxing had trouble in the late 1940s convincing the larger public of the good of the sport. What was missing was a central organization, a boxing board of guarantee purse money, and link professional Nigerian boxing to international standards. In the minds of many British and Nigerian elite boxing fans, without a boxing board of control, boxing would never be able to est ablish a solid fan base or public enthusiasm. The creation of such a board in 1949, discussed below, was the turning point for boxing in terms of legitimacy and paved the way for boxing to represent m uscular c itizenship in the 1950s. Calls for a Boxing Board of Control Boxing was having trouble crossing cultural lines, as pointed out in an editorial in 1947 in the NDT lies not with the people who are trying hard to make it interesting but with the public in 107 "Tonight's Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), June 27 , 1947.
165 108 He went on to in the new postwar world boxing was need ed to shape youth into men. Maxie Williams surmised that it was contact with a growing number of Europeans during the war that 109 Even st ill, when thinking about why young men decided to forgo a boxing career, Maxie noted that: The attitude of the public as a whole leaves much to be desired. The body is willing but the soul is weak. I have met many young men who [would] like to become boxer s but they dread that they might lose some teeth. . . Others feel that they cannot just allow somebody to kill them. Others again say that they cann ot fight without getting money. 110 The danger inherent in boxing was great, especially since there was no board of control, no medical checks, and improper equipment and rings. Added to that was a lack of financial reward, and money was an important motivation to participation for many Nige rians. Character development and love of the sport, the ideals the British sought to instill, were not enough to attract a large following. Calls were made in the newspapers to have boxing aficionados like Douglas J. Collister , locally known as Deejaysee /D JC, to create a board to fix the problems currently faced by Lagosian boxers, managers, promoters, and fans. Many British complained that the reason for a lack of Nigerian support for boxing was that boxing shows in the late 1940s were not of good quality and often turned into 108 Maxie Williams, "Boxing in Nigeria as I see it" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Sept 16 , 1947 . 109 Ibid. 110 Ibid.
166 wrestling matches in the eyes of some spectators. During an Inter Provincial Boxing Tournament between Ibadan and Lagos in July 1947, Battling Boyle of Lagos, who was winning the match, was disqualified when he threw his opponent to t he ground. 111 At the same tournament, the NDT heap. Such fighting names like Bill Killer and Lion Chaser merely exaggerate the boxing 112 Although the names w ere clever, they did not represent the talent that boxing fans wanted to see, with the exception of Young who is the darling of the boxing fans style. 113 Nevertheless, boxing remained outside of many Nigeri acceptable European leisure activities because of the dangers associated with the sport, and because the quality of local boxing matches did not meet the standard found in films. This prompted calls for the creation of a board of control to place boxing on a sound footing, and attract government patronage and public interest. set up an amateur board of control , but it seems this meeting led to the decision to create a profe ssional boxing board first . 114 The first recorded meeting of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBBC) was on July 7, 1948 at the office of Harold Cooper of the Public Works Department. The Board of Control , finally inaugurated in 1949, 111 "Inter Provincial Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), July 8, 1947. 112 Ibid. Parry won when Battling Boyle pushed him down and won on a DQ. Jessi Smart outpointed Sucker Lamidi. Jackie Bruce the captain of Ibadan club lost to Young Panther and was cheered loudly. "Young Panther is really a boxer full of promise." 113 "Inter Provincial Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), July 8 , 1947 . 114 "Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 9 , 1948.
167 ameliorate d sever al problems that plagued boxing. One such problem included having too many self declared champions and no regulation of the award of that title . Many boxers had claimed to be Nigerian champions in their weight class simply by the fact that they were undefeat ed in their province or even Lagos. Bombardier Akerele , a former boxer, complained in the NDT in 1948 that even though more Nigerian boxers there was nothing legitimate about them until titles were recognized by a Boxi ng Board of Control. 115 assumed that all titles with the exception of the flyweight title now held by Domingo 116 The NBBC set out to correct other initial problems that plagued boxing in Lagos and Nigeria. As Collister 117 The problem was both the high cost of tickets as well as the low standard of the boxing. As C ollister and tickets sold at a fairly high price, but in many cases the tournaments have failed to mea sure up to a very high standard. 118 Even though the NBBC stabilized boxing and ga ve it a legal and legitimate footing in Lagos and Nigeria, it did not have an immediate effect of making the boxing scene in Lagos better. By May of 1950, Collister held a 115 Ibid. 116 "Boxing" NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 9 1948. 117 Deejaysee, NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Oct . 10 , 1949 . 118 Ibid
168 on 119 Collister complained that the boxing promotions and the current standards for boxing itself were d sagg ed at several promotions. 120 People want ed to see a Collister the control of boxing was to encourage the youth of Nigeria , particularly in Lagos, to learn the sport properly from the start, to develop real champions, and to provide the pu One way to do this was to promote champions in each weight class, and to have NBBC recognized champions. Collister had wasted no time in setting up the NBBC, however his time in Nige ria was rapidly coming to an end. After over 30 years in Nigeria, primarily in Port Harcourt and only later Lagos , Collister was set to retire in 1951, barely 2 years after the creation of the NBBC. In his honor, the NBBC decided to create an annual champi onship tournament called the Collister Belt Tournament, similar to the Lonsdale Belt in England, for in Nigeria. 121 The first annual tournament was held January 1951, when Collister could still be present before he retired back to Liverpool. As a NDT , Deejaysee 119 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), May 15 , 1950. 120 Ibid. Another change would be to have 3 minute rounds up to 12 an d championship fights going 15 rounds. 121 Ringside Commentator , Collister NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 3 1951; Ringside Commentator Colli ster NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 13 1951.
169 Collister 122 There was also a strong debate over who should win the ti . the man who could hit the hardest and receive punishment the most or to the man who displays, to the admiration of fans and judges alike, the finer points of the leather 123 energy jumping around a saddening sight to watch the antics of the boxer under the im pression that he is giving a thrilling exhibition of footwork, leaps and bounds all over the ring, all his picturesque but unnecessary efforts serving little purpose except to waste his own 124 These descriptions are telling since they n ot only highlight the tastes and desires of British and elite Nigerians for a type of boxing, but also shows how the Nigerian fighters themselves were internalizing and making boxing their own by incorporating their own styles, dancing, and showmanship. The debate over style and proper boxing was continually featured in the newspapers. For the British, rplay of attack and defense , move and countermove, stratagems and wiles to deceive and penetrate the parry and the guard, calling out all th e ingenuity of each contestant; the quick and agile mind matc hing the quick and agile muscle that the joy of a real good bout is found to lie. Not a mere scrap between two sluggers lacking defensive skill that is of no more interest than a dog 122 Ringside Commentator Collister NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 13 1951. 123 Collister NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 18 1951. 124 Ibid.
170 125 Yet these scraps between sluggers with their hard punching and brute force were some of the more popular matches for many Nigerians. 126 It was the fast paced punching and dancing style that attracted a wider Nigerian audience to the sport and it was these aspec ts, to the dismay of many elites, that they cheered for the most. The average fan wanted knockouts, and newspapers frequently mentioned knockouts, how the knockout happened and even went as far as to say that despite no knockouts, a tournament still provid ed good boxing. 127 While many elites believed that Collister , the fans showed their displeasure at such a decision and booed when their favorite did not win. 128 Collister Belt For Sluggers? The creation of the Collister Belt to select the best professional boxer of the previous year ended the early postwar era of boxing. By 1950, boxing was much different than in 1945 boxing had the support of the colonial government, had a new Boxing Board of Control, and was a mainsta across the city. Boxing was an important part of the spread of spectator sports and leagues in postwar Lagos as it connected the currents discussed in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 , like character, health, and citizenship. More importantly, it was integral to the 125 Ibid. 126 Sensational NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Feb . 6 , 1951. 127 Inter NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 8 , 1951 . 128 Out Prospects for the Collister NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 24 , 1951. The writer also mentions that the governor present ed the belt , and that Messrs. Lynch, Foreman, Wardill , Farnsworth, and Fatayi Williams were judges, and that Messrs. Hackett, Powderley , Richards, and Azikiwe were referees.
171 creation of Muscular Citizenship, linking the strength, health, and character of the boxer to the vitality of the nation and the ideal citizen. As the expatriate British citizens and elite Nigerians tried to shape t he types of boxers and styles of boxing that would be acceptable, Nigerian boxers and fans had different ideas. While the Collister remained extremely popular well into the 1950s with the likes of Salau Chiko, Blackie Power, and Dick Tiger. Nigerian boxers melded traditional ideals of creativity, dancing, le, shaping their own ideal of muscular c itizenship through boxing.
172 CHAPTER 5 THE BOXING BACHELOR SUBCULTURE: BACHELORS, JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, DONA L D FAULKNER, AND AMATEUR BOXING Emergence of a Bachelor Subculture As explained in Chapter 4 , Muscular C itizenship, the melding of health, character, sports, and the nation into a new urban definition of manliness, emerged in response to the circumstances of WWII, the return of soldiers, and the rise of sport. In addition to soldiers and educated Nigerians, however, muscular citizenship was also appealing to a n emerging bachelor subculture. The intense economic competition, crowded living conditions, poverty, and growing sports culture of the post WWII colonial city created a bachelor subculture primarily comprised of young, uneducated, unmarried, and unemployed male migrants who valorized aggressive displays of violence, strength showcased through the male body, and contests of skills and sporting prowess. Many of these men drifted towards youth gangs and became, in the eyes of the colonial state, juvenile delinquents . At the same time as this development was taking place and within the societal context that understood sports as the answer to creating good citizens, Donald Faulkner established th to combat the problem of juvenile delinquency. 1 1 and the Invention of Juvenile Delinquency in Nigeria, 1920 60 Journal of African History , 47 (2006), 115 mbling and Loafing, Pimping for Prostitutes, and Picking Pockets'': Male Juvenile Delinquents on Lagos Island, 1920s Journal of Family History 35 (2010); George, Abosede. "Within salvation: girl hawkers and the colonial state in development era Lag os." Journal of Social History Conflict and Delinquency: A Eras 10 (2008); Abosede George, Making Modern Girls: A History of Childhood, Labor, and Social Development in Colonial Lagos (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014).
173 Donald E. Faulkner came to Enugu, Eastern Nigeria , in late 1937 as the new Assistant Director of Prisons. T rained as a Social Welfare Officer in Britain , Faulkner was an avid s portsman and boxer who believed in the importance of sport in the development of youth into men. He also took control of the Enugu Reformatory School, a rehabilitation center for juvenile delinquents to learn useful skills and trades. Faulkner instituted a strict regimen of discipline and character building primarily through sport, similar to what he had experienced in his own upbringing and education in England. During the war in 1941, Lagos was in the midst of a perceived increase in crime, prostitution, and juvenile delinquency , and Faulkner was hired to study the causes of this rise in juvenile crime. He found that Lagos contained hundreds of wayward, homeless youth living in the city and joining gangs. His recommendation was to create more leisure activ boys to learn the traits of amateur sportsmen to curb their deviant behavior and prepare them for productive and law abiding lives in the city. 2 prompted the colonial off ice in London to appoint him as the first Social Welfare Officer in the British Empire. Himself a product of the Boys Club movement in Britain, Faulkner copied that one of the primary sports to teach boys and young men character, discipline, sportsmanship, and courage tools to survive the urban environment. By 1952, the Boys Club Movement had spread across Nigeria. 2 Although not discussed here, but equally important, Faulkner also found in his study the problems of wayward young girls that drifted towards prostitution. For more information, see Abosede George, Making Modern Gir ls .
174 The Boys Clubs used boxing to instill character and a sen se of direction within these young men in turn absorbed and adapted the sport into their bachelor subculture. In this manner, boxing offered an appropriate avenue by which unestablished youth could express their sense of manliness. The s pread of boxing growing popularity of boxing among boys and young men that made up the bachelor subculture spurred on the creation of the Lagos Amateur Boxing Association (LABA), the precursor to the Nige rian Amateur Boxing Association. W ith the establishment of amateur boxing as a regulated sport came national championships for young men as another avenue for social connections and local fame. The Boys Club Movement , therefore, created the backbone for amateur boxing in Lagos. This chapter thus detours from the history of professional boxing to development of amateur and professional boxing, but also underpinned the bachelor subculture of boxing and masculinity within Nigeria. Masculinity in Nigeria Emergence of the Bachelor Scholars have identified that in precolonial and colonial Yorubaland p rior to the 1930s, three broadly defined forms of masculinity overlapped: adult, elder or senior, and 3 Among the Yoruba, until a man could afford bridewealth and marriage, he was still considered a child dependent on his father and unable to claim adult status. In the early twentieth century, membership in a kin group, the organization of family 3 Meischer, Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 139.
175 compounds, and the independence of young men revolved around control of labor. You ng men were dependent laborers who would work for their fathers or other kin members in order to secure funds necessary for purchasing land and bridewealth, and Until a man was married, he was unable to access land from the family compound nor w as in life was his first marriage. 4 After marriage, a man could set up his own farm, land, and secure dependent labor. He also was the head of the household in relation to his wife ( or later wives) and children. 5 The introduction of colonialism and wage labor had a profound impact on this system as money became the principle form of exchange for bridewealt h after WWI . The cost of bridewealth skyrocketed in response to the introduction of cash. As Lindsay noted, in Ondo province in the 1930s, bridewealth costs often exceeded Â£14, or the 6 Young men in search of money to finance social obligations or marriage, or to purchase land now mig rated in larger numbers to colonial cities like Lagos where they could find jobs and thus lessen their depend ence on their fathers. Urban wage labor manhood, to pay the bride price for marriage, and t o acquire cash to pay entrance fees 4 Karin Barber, I could Speak Until Tomorrow: Oriki, Women and the Past in a Yoruba Town (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 216. 5 Lindsay, Money, Marriage, and Masculinity , 140. 6 Ibid. 140.
176 7 The ability of young men to attain cash through co period of their juniority and changed the dynamics of the traditional payment system and the role of elders . 8 This was not unique to Yorubas, as wage labor also had a profound impact on colonial Igbo societies towards the southeastern part of Nigeria as young men were no longer dependent on r access to land, women, and resources. 9 Men in growing numbers migrated to colonial cities for a host of reasons, but one significant motivation was gaining access to wages in order to fulfill social obligations in their quest for manhood, adulthood, and marriage. The colonial city was a place where African men, young and old, were faced with competing standards of masculine behavior, including the cult of Victorian and Edwardian sportsmanship brought with the colonizers . These new standards impacted how Nigerian elites claimed status and power during the early years of colonialism , which in turn shifted gender roles, generational conflict (elders power over women and marriage. 10 As Kristin Mann noted, the economic, social, and political life in Lagos can be perceived at the turn of the twentieth century as Nigerian men and women began to 7 Brown also notes that these Big Men had their own dances, cl othing, and titled societies to challenge the traditional village elder system. It was the possibility of regular wage systems of the twentieth century that changed this because access to money meant more junior men could now try to use colonial wage syste , 40. 8 J.D.Y. Peel, Ijeshas and Nigerians: The Incorporation of a Yoruba Kingdom, 1890s 1970s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 118. 9 Class Mascul inity in the Nigerian Coal Industry: The Initial Phase, 1914 International Labor and Working Class History , No. 69, Working Class Subjectivities and Sexualities (Spring, 2006), 38 9. 10 Ibid.
177 11 However, the elite Nige rian men all had access to money, resources, and women, allowing a smoother transition into manhood. Other scholars have demonstrated that wage labor contributed to the development of other masculinities. Beyond changing the speed of attaining adulthood th rough traditional markers like marriage , wage labor also adapted conceptions of masculinity towards labor pride. Mann argues that elite masculinity in Nigeria at the turn of the century was determined and contested through access to newly available mediums of colonial commerce, colonial economy, and colonial religion. Mann studied a new type of African, a Christian educated colonial worker (clerks, traders, lawyers, doctors) that drew power not from traditional sources (land, wealth in people, clientage) bu t from the colonial state (education, job, money). 12 In addition to Mann, Carolyn Brown argued that concepts of masculinity and honor were tied to consum e western goods allowed 13 Lindsay argues that Nigerian working class masculinity after the war, as she found with Railways workers, displayed and defended their right to being men through their new 11 Kristin Mann, Marrying Well: Marriage, Status, And Socia l Change Among The Educated Elite In Colonial Lagos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). 12 Mann, Marrying Well. 13 Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003).
178 role had been before colonialism (and the war) the purview of women. 14 Several scholars have noted that post war masculinity underwent some significant changes and have shown how dynamic the p eriod actually was for those in Nigeria, especially wage laborers. Throug h this lens, these scholars primarily examine d those that were employed, which was only a small portion of the population. According to Mabogunje, by 1951 over 67% of the population o f Lagos was below 25 years of age, many of whom were not engaged in wage labor, were unemployed, or were too young to work. 15 In addition to the other masculinities that scholars have pointed out, the circumstances around W W II created a particular new urban based masculinity that emerged not through labor but through unemployment, juvenile delinquen cy, and gangs, as well as the popularity of cowboy movies and sport . This unique subculture of masculinity emphasized aggression, physical strength, skill , and being seen for boys and young men . But officials viewed the men displaying this masculinity, who were generally unemployed and unmarried, as a threat to the state. The rise in crime and gang activity in Lagos prompted the gov ernment to hire Donald Faulkner to solve the problem and to channel that masculinity into something more effective for the state. It was through his prescription of sports and clubs that young men found a vehicle through which to express this masculi nity. see how he implanted a colonial model shaped 14 Lisa Lindsay, Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria. ( Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2003). She also argues that the while men argued for breadwinner wages based on European conceptions of the family , the reality on the ground was in fact much different. 15 Mabogunje, Urbanization in Nigeria, 250 255.
179 within the environment of Lagos through which young men could shape t heir own masculine identity. Young men had create d t heir own culture of masculinity from the ir experiences and the circumstances of the city. As Glaser noted about youth gangs and masculinity in South Africa: In middle class culture, for instance, professional skills, intellect and earning capacity are emp hasised, whereas physical skill and strength tend to be emphasised in working class culture. Common to all versions of masculinity, however, is male assertiveness and fierce inter male competitiveness alongside relatively passive, domestically oriented fem ales. Most forms of masculinity also involve a need to control and be 'in control', whether intellectually or physically. 16 sport , and especially boxing, an important vehicle for young men to display their toughness, sk ill, and manliness. As Anne Mager saw in a similar case in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, sports clubs for boys and young men were sites of rivalry and aggressive behaviors developed in part to counteract stifled urban and rural masculinity. Moreover, Mager found that masculinity was scarce resources, all aspects of the economic circumstances of post WWII South Africa and colo nialism. 17 The Nigerian case was similar to the one studie d by Mager. The experiences of war, depression, and intense economic competition in Lagos over resources, women, and money infused sports competitions with important social and psychological meaning in terms of masculinity. Being good a t sport was an avenue for 16 C. Glaser, 'The Mark of Zorro: Sexuality and Gender Relations in the Tsotsi Subculture on the Witwatersrand', African Studies , 51, 1 (1992), 51. 17 Transkei, 19 45 Journal of Southern African Studies , 24. 4, Special Issue on Masculinities in Southern Africa (Dec., 1998), 653 667.
180 making social connections, while also letting off aggression through acceptable and sanctioned channels. Deevia Bhana found that South African boys used strength, aggression, endurance, and ski ll in sport the sport in question celebrate d violence, strength, toughness, and use d a language of dominance. 18 Boxing was the most visceral display sport in Lagos , with physical violence being a defining featu re. The use of boxing as a release of aggression as well as a chance at social mobility no doubt attracted many young Nigerians towards the sport. Bachelor Subculture of Masculinity The boxing bachelor subculture of masculinity in Nigeria was but one such subculture existing at the time. Each subculture borrowed from other displays of masculinity and adapted them to meet the needs of the group. Other subcultures present in Lagos include d cowboys and gangs like Jaguda and Boma boys. 19 As Mooney remarks, in this case about white subculture in South Africa, youth subcultures: generally comprised a combination of definitive characteristics including: image (a preoccupation with appearance including dress, hairstyle, attitude and language); race (as saulting of members of the African community and the promotion of whiteness); territoriality (the defence of space, excursions into rival groups' territory, gate crashing and vandalism); in dividual and group competitive ness (pugnacity, fighting ability, co nflicts over girls, and motorbike and car racing); and finally 18 Deevia Bhana, 'Six Packs and Big Muscles 3. Considerable work has been done on the schoolboy masculinity and the role of schoo ls as a site for boys to construct and display/perform/assert their masculine identity through sport. Boys and girls in the pr imary school , 113 34. (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2003); Swain, J. 2000. The Money's Good, The Fame's Good, The Girls Are Good: The Role Of Playground Football In The Construction Of Young Boys' British Journal of S ociology of Education 21. 1: 95 111. 19
181 sexuality (an emphasis on virility, the objectification of girls and homophobia). 20 Subcultures in Nigeria were similar in terms of characteristics, and the bachelor subculture adhered to their own amalgamated ideals dealing with image, territoriality, are important because they show they ways in which youth were able to assert their masculinity despite their junior status and lack of resources, and how the competitiveness of the city enabled such actions. In Lagos, Nigeria, young men in search of image and fame found role models in boxers. As mentioned in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 , boxers were the first Nigeria n international sports stars, providing an example of the heights that boxing could allow. Furthermore, t he majority of boxers in Lagos up to the 1950s were bachelors. Bachelors were, after WWII, undesirable people in the city because of their frivolous li festyles, wasting money on consumption of western products rather than investing i n land, women, and family support. The position and reputation of bachelors reveals the attitudes and perceptions of marriage and family in Nigeria as a whole, but also the w ays unattached men and youth s lived, worked, and navigated the colonial urban era. Migration, Urban P oo r, and Juvenile D elinquency Increasing numbers of Nigerian bachelors in the 1940s and 50s represented a troubling were on of the symptom s of a rapid growth in urban centers. U nattached young males formed a robust bachelor subculture, whose members were often 20 Katie Mooney , Duckta ils, Flick : Subcultural and Hegemonic Masculinities in South Africa, 1948 1960 Journal of Southern African Studies , 24 . 4, Special Issue on Masculinities in Southern Africa (Dec., 1998), 757.
182 considered dangerous and expressing a deviant and defiant lifestyle. Urban b achelorhood represented a break from traditional standards of masculinity: bachelors refused to marry, wore brash clothing, and engaged in drinking, leisure, and gang or sport club activity. 21 Similar to what Gorn found in the United States in the nineteenth century , t he bachelor subculture defined masculinity i n homosocial interactions in public spaces where they attributes which then became the touchstones of maleness, and boxing along with other sports upheld this alternative definition of manh 22 Nigeria during the postwar period experienced a similar alternative definition of manhood through sport and boxing. As Lindsey noted , the public sphere in Nigeria became gendered after WWII, as male participation in sport and clubs made male social interactions important to manhood. 23 Furthermore, displays of toughness, strength, and aggression were some of the ways that bachelors were able to both express and display their masculinity. The growing bachelor culture was but one outcome of the growth in urban Lagos. Under the umbrella of the bachelor was another equally dangerous young man the juvenile delinquent. The rapid growth of population in Lagos, as detailed in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 , brought overcrowding, unemployment, and cr ime. Although rapidly 21 For example, in 1947, a debate in the NDT over the problem of bachelors in the city. Most interesting was a reply NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Jan . 24 , 1947, which was written by a bachelor who was angry that bei ng a bachelor was looked down upon as something bad. He said that choosing to be a bachelor is important and are the lifeblood of a society for eligible women to marry. The colonial government spent considerable effort and time trying to restore control of elders and chiefs over men who had migrated to cities and lamented that they had become African Poor. 22 Eliot Gorn, The Manly Art , 141. Alt hough describing turn of the century America, a similar situation happened in Nigeria. 23 See Lindsay
183 growing numbers of poor urban males were a part of Lagos for several decades, the interwar period and especially WWII heightened fears over their presence in the city. More often than not, the bachelor in Lagos was considered to be a juvenile delinquent under the thrall of urban, Western civilization and out of tune with traditional Nigerian practices. As Abigail Wills noted about a similar situation in Britain, the reclamation of juvenile delinquents after WW II was ned by two linked ideologies: 24 The rhetoric of juvenile delinquency was the same in both places, as the manhood of the nation was threatened by young men that sciously to transform 'anti 25 In the 1950s, the project of reforming male delinquents centered around the notion of mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body), which involved ideals such as str ength of character, emotional independence, restrained heterosexuality and disciplined work ethic. These ideals were underlain by a holistic understanding of society: the task of reform was conceived in terms of the reclamation of delinquents 'for the nati 26 Nigeria and Lagos especially experienced this wave of reform minded social workers who adhered to the theory that the health and discipline of the body would repair and reclaim juvenile delinquents , thus relieving a social urban problem. For Nigerian s, this process would also make proper citizens, thus linking the ideals of sport and health to those of the citizen, or in other words, producing Muscular Citizens. 24 Abigail Wills , Delinquency, Masculinity and Citizenship in England 1950 1970 Past & Present 187 (May, 2005), 157. For more informatio Latham , The Liverpool Boys' Association and the Liverpool Union of Youth Clubs: Youth Organizations and Gender, 1940 70 Journal of Contemporary History , 35. 3 (Jul., 2000), 423 437 . 25 Abigail Past & Present , 187 (May, 2005), 159. 26 Ibid.
184 administrators during the Second World War as the problem of vagrant youths and criminal activities came to center stage in Lagos. 27 Once it became a punishable legal category, with its own administrative and judicial machinery, juvenile delinquen cy was 28 Since t he colonial government needed a stable working class of semi and unskilled laborers, juvenile delinquents autho rity, and morals and they did not work. 29 was an obsession of the late colonial period 30 Young men and women moved to Lagos for a number of reasons: to rem unerate parents in the village, a lack of food or resources at home , being orphaned, hope of schooling in towns, displacement from family disintegration, or simple dislocation. Despite these varied reasons, the prevailing notion of colonial administrators was that juvenile delinquents were careless, irresponsible, and 31 T o colonial officials the main cause of the rise in juvenile deli nquency, and rise in deficient men 27 crimes and the youth that were blam ed for them as the turning point for what made juvenile delinquency a African Poor , 187. 28 116. 29 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Mar . 24 , 1950. 30 Illife, The African Poor , 187. Also see Simon 31 Donald Faulkner, Social Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency in Lagos, Nigeria (The Howard League for Penal Reform: London, 1952), 1.
185 parenting on th e part of Nigerians living in Lagos and other cities. 32 With heavy taxes and a growing population, young men left their villages in rapid numbers for the cities, and Lagos was the prime destination for many youths as the city was the seat of colonial govern ment and the colonial economy. 33 Donald Faulkner From Prisons to Social Work The change in attitude towards preventing rather than reacting to juvenile delinquency in the post WWII era in Nigeria, and African as a whole, can be traced back to the hiring O fficer in 1942, Donald Faulkner. 34 In fact, Faulkner was the first Social Welfare Officer in the British Empire. 35 As several scholars have noted, Faulkner was instrumental in creating the infrastructure of Social Welfare in Nigeria , which was later copied across British Africa. 36 to solving the problem of juvenile delinquency in Lagos a n d Nigeria built on his belief that urbanization contributed to the breakdown of Nigerian families, the lack of character development in youth, and on the degeneration of indigenous tradition. 37 32 Ibid . 33 As discussed in Chapter 3 and above, there was not only an increase i n the general population of Lagos, but also in its age and gender composition. The majority of migrants who came to the city were under the age of thirty and mostly male migrants, with the under thirty age group in Lagos consisting of 62% of the population in 1921 and rose to 78% in by 1972. Also, youths under fifteen years old rose from 115 Eras 10: Nov 20 08, 15. For a detailed look at History Compass 11. 2 (2013), 91 103. 34 See Falola and Salm (eds), African Urban Spaces in Historical Perspective, 313 ; and also John Illife, The African Poor , 187. 35 See Falola and Salm (eds), African Urban Spaces in Historical Perspective, 313 36 Conflict 37 Ib id.
186 importance goes beyond his work as a Social Welfare Officer, as his dedication to the nt directly influenced the spread of boxing in Nigeria and helped to fashion the boxing bachelor subculture of masculinity. Faulkner came to Nigeria in 1937, after serving for several years as the Headmaster of Boston House in London, England. 38 As mentione d at the start of th is chapter, o n his arrival in Nigeria Faulkner was named Assistant Director of Prisons and was also in charge of the Enugu Reformatory School, position s he held for four years. 39 He was then asked to study the recent juvenile delinquency phenomenon in Lagos in 1941 with John Savory of the Education Department. They found in their study several 40 Faulkner and Savory interviewed 400 young men and boys that found their way to the Green Triangle Hostel (discussed below) over a two year period. They wanted to get a better idea of life on the streets, the backgrounds of migrants, and the social conditions that had created a situation where living on the street was not forced but in many cases sought after. 41 There was a continuous drift of small boys of tender years on to the streets of Lagos, strangers, oft en enough, to urban life: that they were able to subsist by petty theft and doing casual labouring work, and that, as 38 . Faul NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), July 6 , 1949 . Faulkner was also a member of the Association of Psychiatric Social Workers and the Probation Officers Association. 39 Ibid. 40 Faulkner, Social Welfare , 1. 41 Ibid., 1 2.
187 they grew older they gradually sank into the background of criminal life in Lagos. 42 Faulkner noted that one out of every three kids in Lag os had a home or parent there, while the rest had been recent migrants to the city. These youths that Faulkner interviewed lived off of petty crime and begging, as well as pimping prostitutes, pick pocketing, gambling, and loafing. Rather than go home or b ack to their village, many hope d to be incarcerated by the colonial state, as that offered the best opportunity for poor African boys to acquire the relative security of a western style childhood and adolescence including the education provided in priso n that was unattainable in society. 43 Although not all delinquents wanted to be caught or taught, Faulkner concluded that conditions in the city meant that: The average boy in Lagos learns to look after himself by hook or by crook at an early age. In order to survive he develops strongly the instinct of self preservation, few scruples and no principles. Nor it is surprising that in the past the Lagos youth was considered by employers of labour, lazy and undisciplined, with the consequences that imported lab our was preferred, causing even more unemployment among the Lagos boys and more overcrowding in the slums of the city. 44 as the boys he interviewed showed a lack of strong morals . Faulkner lam in th e streets] appeared to be usu ally newcomers to the [criminal] life; as they gained experience and deteriorated 45 Moral weakness was ment, lack of strong 42 Ibid. 43 Journal of Social History , 40. 2 (Winter, 2006) . 44 Faulkner, Social Welfare , 7. 45 Ibid., 1.
188 parenting, lack of education, and urbanization. 46 Faulkner, according to Ugboajah, as the main causes of the rise of juvenile destitution and yout solution was to build character and develop strong morals through the discipline found in sports in general and boxing in particular. Only through disciplined training in sport could the y reclaim destitute, deviant youth and create useful citizens. Figure 5 1. NDT June 23 , 1953 . Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Faulkner also identified the gang culture present in Lagos in his report , and although most colonists saw all members of these gangs as universally worthless , he recognized that indigenous forms of honor had transformed into the urban configuration of youth gangs. 47 As Ugboajah argues, not only expressed in defiance to authority but also shaped by colonial cinema , prisons, and reformatory experiences. 48 The result was an emphasis on the rough, tough, and rugged, where fighting, stealing, 46 Conflict 20. 47 lture Honour , 301. 48 Conflict Illife, Honour , 303.
189 and a desire to be seen either in certain forms of dress or seen as a strong physical leader were aspects of this gang masculinity. 49 This also partly explains the appeal of cowboy movies to youth in urban ar eas. also emerged during the early 19 3 0s in Lagos, and in the 1940s in places like Enugu . 50 As di scussed in Chapter 4 , c owboy films were extremely popular in postwar Nigeria because of the rugged independence displayed by the c owboys and marti al arts . 51 As P. Hair observed with Nigerian Cowboys in Enugu , young boys aged 14 25 eagerly uniforms and being dressed as cowboys, and being seen in weekly marches, combating ing groups and protecting their turf. 52 A similar situation occurred in Lagos where Cowboy groups emerged in the Postwar city and, like in Enugu, the groups developed a bad reputation as drunks, 49 A similar experience was found in the Congo by Didier Gondola , Tropical Cowboys: Westerns, Violence, And Masculinity in Kinshasa ( Bloomin gton : Indiana University Press, 2016). For a Nigerian case of cowboys and gang activity, see P. E. H. Hair , The Cowboys: A Nigerian Accul turative Institution History in Africa , 28 (2001) . 50 The Cowboys 51 Larkin, Signal And Noise , 138, 168. For a comparable ca se, see Hortense Powdermaker, Coppertown: changing Africa; the human situation on the Rhodesian Copperbelt (New York: Harper & Row, 1965) and Burns 103 117, and Gondola, Tropical Cowboys . 52
190 differentiating them from gangs, deviant youth, or juvenile delinquents. 53 Enugu , like Lagos , also experienced a postwar boom, population growth, and massive unemployment, giving rise to juvenile delinquents and co wboys. Hair noticed an osu ) or ethnicity (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa), young men could gain respect, rise in their group to high positions, and attain a sense of status denied t hrough traditional avenues like birth or wealth. T his helps explain in part boxing provided a literal and physical arena through which these public displays of toughness, strength, fighting, and be ing seen were legally and socially acceptable. Professional b oxing stars were shown in the newspapers, and those that participated in amateur tournaments, discussed below, were also mentioned in the newspapers, which meant boxing was a way to gain recognition in the city. Moreover, those that were migrants to Lagos with connection or social status could enter the ring and through their skill and talent open doors denied through traditional means. By the late 1940s, boxers were seen as fed and physical fit, [and] won the applause of the spectators by the 54 The praise for toughness, strength, and displays of aggressive violence through boxing became a new avenue for bachelors to claim and display their manhood or masculin ity. 53 Ibid., 86 88. are drunk, have led to court cases, and the habit some members have acquired of hanging around public bars in the hope of trading a song for a drink is no Also discussed in i nterview with Olu Moses, who called juvenile delinquents of his youth ruffians and cowboys. Lagos, June 2013. 54 NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Feb . 23 , 1951.
191 The Green Triangle and Early Forms of Social Welfare the late 1930s and early 1940s, the initiatives suffered from a lack of money and manpower. Com menting on the problem, The West African Pilot (WAP) lamented in July 1941 that hostels or remand houses would need to be built to house the destitute delinquents as the problem was worse than ever before. 55 It was left to the people of Lagos to try to tack le the problem through philanthropy . The solution at first was the Green Triangle, a hostel and boys club in Lagos catering to homeless boys and youths. The Green Triangle was one of the first remand houses of its kind in Africa that housed young boys and girls. Not only did it take them away from the bad influences of the streets, it also taught them useful skills like carpentry or masonry. Although the hostel only lasted four years and closed down from lack of funds and public subscriptions during wartime , it set a precedent for how colonial administrators and social welfare workers would attack the problem of juvenile delinquency. Most importantly, the Green Triangle promoted boxing to discipline and reform juveniles. What was remarkable about the hostel was that it was African run and created, the first of its kind in West Africa. 56 Opened in 1942, the Hostel was the offshoot of the Green Triangle Club, which was at first a club established to help destitute boys in Lagos. It was also a place to teach valuable skills to land employment and to survive in the city without turning back to crime. 57 The Green Triangle worked in conjunction with 55 WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Ju ly 10, 1941. 56 WAP , (Lagos, Nigeria), July 14, 1942. 57 WAP , (Lagos, Nigeria), March 20, 1942.
192 the police and Boy Scouts to find juvenile delinquents , destitute boys , and troubled youth living on the streets and bring them to the hostel. 58 Sport was one of the three main activities of the Green Triangle and was important to the mission of the Hostel . 59 The organizers believed that teaching these boys the fundamentals of several sports, especially boxing ( for which they had their own ring ) , would instill in these youths work and, of course, having fun. Or in the wor ds of the West African Plot 60 T he Hostel and its mission equated sport with character formation and discipline as the antidote for the moral and physical impact of juvenile delinquency on youths. I t should then come as no surprise that t he first director of the Green Triangle was none other than Donald E. Faulkner. 61 The Green Triangle boasted that by October of 1942, more than 70 boys had passed through the hostel successfully in the first few month s of operation. 62 The hostel saw some success as several former remand house boxers actually went on to have successful boxing careers. Men like Kinjo Rafiu, who adopted the ring name Rafiu King, became a Nigerian champion, and later went on to 58 Azikiwe, WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Oct. 28, 1942. 59 Ibid. and the three points of the triangle represented the three activities promoted 60 WAP , (Lagos, Nigeria), May 5, 1945. 61 Azikiwe, WAP (Lagos, Nigeria), Oct. 28, 1942. 62 Ibid.
193 have a succe ssful career in Britain. 63 The example of the Green Triangle Hostel and its initial successes had an impact on how Faulkner subsequently approached the problem of juvenile delinquency in the colony with boxing at the forefront. , and Boxing Once the Social Welfare Department was created in 1941 with Faulkner at the helm, it drew on the model already in place with the Green Triangle Hostel and went about creating Remand Homes, Approved Schools, and during time, . 64 The ex perience of running the Green Triangle hostel was important for Faulkner. First, it was able to remove the juvenile delinquent from his environment, and thereby gave him a chance to change his habits, if only f or the time being. Secondly, the hostel was able to teach valuable skills to young men who had been denied access to higher learning because of either their social status or circumstances accountability ideals made sure that those who attended were accountable to themselves and each other in the house through various activities and responsibilities there was a communal garden the teens took care of, as well as sports that cultivated team work, discipline, character, and community building. 65 Lastly, the hostel believed what many believed at the time juvenile delinquents came from dysfunctional families that did not instill the proper traits in these young men, most importantly respect, ha rd work, and discipline. 63 Interview by Bamidele Ajayi of Olu Moses, Lagos, Nigeria. March 3 , 2014 . 64 65 Fat. A. Durosinmi Etti , Juvenile Delinquency and Boys Club NDT (Lagos, Nigeria), Aug . 26 , 1948 .
194 was especially marked in his devotion and energy in supporting, funding, and setting up across Lagos. So central were to plans that within the first few months of him being named Social Welfare Officer , he opened the Kakawa Boys Club in which he was the patron, chairman, and boxing instructor in 1942 . As future World Champion Hogan Bassey recalled, boxing was a key component , where he first learned to box, and was very popular with its members. 66 67 Like m any other boys in Lagos, Bassey had no intention of fighting, but many others more likely 68 For s a members. During his free time, Faulkner based on the Boys Club Movement in Britain. 69 ubs had a n 66 Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Boxing, 5. 67 Ibid. 68 Ibid. 69 Liverpool Echo, March 7, Britain, catering to over 250,000 boys. All of which had boxing rings.
195 70 By 1950 alone there were over 25 such clubs in Lagos and its suburbs , with an estimated membership of between 1500 a nd 2500 . 71 By 1951 , the number of had dramatically risen to over 40, with a membership of over 5,000. 72 These clubs all contained boxing rings and boxing equipment. Faulkner saw in boxing as the one sport that could instill the discipline that he felt tho se boys needed, mold the character desired by colonial officials in their Nigerian workforce, and also teach them to protect themselve s on the streets and in society. Faulkner was instrumental in creating this system of correcting and rehabilit ating juvenile delinquents through recreational pursuits like boxing that was copied across British tropical Africa. His recommendations and changes to Nigeria were later copied in Kenya (1944), Gold Coast (1946), and Uganda (1950s). 73 As Andrew Burton saw in his study of juvenile delinquency in colonial Dar es Salaam, by the mid 1950s the colonial government had set up in towns throughout the colony 70 Conflict 20. 71 NDT Nov . 1,1949. Although I was unable to find documentation in the archives regarding total membership numbers, the newspaper frequently mentioned individual club membership numbers. Like the Oyingbo Boys Club which had after 9 months of operation in 1950 over 45 boys. Se e NDT Jan 27 1950 . The membership of these clubs ranged from roughly 40 to 100 members, so it is reasonable to assume that by 1950 there were between 1500 and 2500 members in the 25 clubs. 72 NDT April 6 1950. A ccording to Mr. P. Graham, the Colony Youth Organiser. Here are 12 clubs on Lagos I sland, 6 on the Mainland, 5 at A papa, 12 in Ikeja and 3 in Epe district. All boys between 12 and 25 could join. The main sports for the all the clubs t hat are organized into tourneys are boxing, football, table tennis, athletics, wrestling, and swimming. It was noted that Azikiwe and Dr. Adeniyi Jones donated cups for boxing to the Mainland Boys Club and Island Club respectively. 73 John Illife, The Afric an Poor, 188.
196 [ed] toughest bo ys in town , 74 The the antidote to juvenile delinquen cy, with sports and recreation at the center of this transformation . In addition to concerns over character w ere local dif ficulties with health . T hese clubs promoted health and healthy living as necessary to combat the degenerative nature of the urban environment. By November 1949, youths were meeting regularly at the club located at Ijero on Apapa Road in Ebute Metta. Member their responsibility as future leaders of new Nigeria. 75 With the formation of the Ijero character , and improve their health . 76 Describing the double reasons for sports in , Patrick Grayham as a place for youths to meet, discuss, play games, and through association with others improve their character 77 Grayha m continued, . They are becoming aware of their duties as responsible citizens. With the benefits of especially elite Nigerians , to take an active role in promoting and establishing clubs to better the prospects of youth, to develop their character and health, and make them useful citizens of the city. 74 es Salaam, 1919 61 The Journal of African History , 42. 2 (2001), 212. 75 As mentioned in Chapter One, Ebute Metta was the first mainland subu rb of Lagos island. 76 NDT Nov . 1,1949 . Emphasis added. 77 Ibid. Emphasis Added.
197 78 But his work met with considerable opposition from some areas of Lagos. Faulkner was or leisure for youths, while also not welcoming the efforts of th e newly created Social Welfare O ffice. 79 Faulkner lamented that there were plenty of employable Nigerians, but s the first step to redirecting [of unstructured leisure] is the formation of 80 , Boxing Shows and Tournaments After the creation of the NBBC and professional boxing in 1949, the distribution With to the success of Nigerian boxers abroad in Liverpool, the topic of Chapter 6 , many guessed at the Lagosians and Nigerians, the Nigerian Boxing Association Chairman, H.G. McFall, was hopeful for the continued expansion of Nigerian boxing. When asked what he expected for 1950, M cFall pleaded with Nigerians to open boxing Throughout the land until every town and village has its [boxing] ring and training facilities. Only in this wa y will we 78 Ibid. 79 Fat. A. Durosinmi Etti , Juvenile Delinquency and Boys Club NDT Aug . 26 , 1948 . 80 Ibid.
198 81 McFall noted t hat Nigeria should also start to create a national boxing team to compete internationally, starting with matches against the Gold Coast. 82 The first step was to given the re would allow them to be feeder programs for professional boxing clubs . Thus, Amateur boxing by 1951 had started to gain the support of elite Nigerians, like Dr. T. Adeniyi Jones, who not only was the house medical doctor for professional fights, but also 83 Nnamdi Azikiwe, future President of independent Nigeria and avid sportsman (see Chapter 3 ), donated a 84 Moreover, several prominent chief of the village made a most welcome presentation of boxi ng gloves among other equipment. Meanwhile in Abeokuta, the return of the Alake, Alake Ad emola II to the thrown was celebrated with a boxing a sports lover and patron to several clubs support by organizing and donated Â£15/5s for a tournament and becoming the patron of 81 NDT J an . 5 , 1950 . 82 Ibid. 83 NDT Mar . 17, 1950. 84 NDT April 6 , 1950; and West Africa (London, England) December 22, 1951, 1181. Azikiwe was also connected to the Green Triangle Hostel discussed above.
199 85 In Lagos, the Oba became a staunch supporter of the 86 The boxing activities of the various became one of the most popular features of the club and one that attracted considerable newspaper attention with the m onthly boxing tournaments between clubs. These events were attended by sizable crowds. Starting in 1948, these tournaments became promoted regularly with the help of Faulkner and D.J. Collister (DJC). One July 1 st team v tournament. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was none other than Donald Faulkner, a position that he would hold for many of the boxing tournaments over the following years. 87 Faulkner was commended in the article, which said 88 Faulkner was praised for his apparent success in creating local boxing clubs and Clubs , which no t only help ed spread boxing in Nigeria but also train these youths for a brighter future by instilling in them the requisite character and discipline. 89 At ringside that night were notable boxing critic Collister , the judge for the tournament, former profes sional Nigerian boxer Bombardier Abis Akerele as referee , and active 85 WAP Aug . 23 1951 ; "Alake will Watch Boxing Contest At Centenary Hall on Saturday WAP Jan . 3 , 1951. Â£15/5s in 1951 is worth approximatel https://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ 86 West Africa (London, England) December 22, 1951, 1181 . 87 NDT July 1, 1948 . Faulkner 88 Ibid. 89 Ibid.
200 professional boxer Young Panther as the timekeeper. 90 A few days later the Nigerian Daily Times (NDT) ran photos of the tournament along with a report o f the results . N ews of tournaments l ike these began in the late 1940s to receive regular coverage in the newspapers in Lagos. These articles tended to be front and center on the sports pages, giving the youth that participated a chance at local glory, especially Moses Ilori of Yaba and Adeoy e of Kakawa, whose pictures made the sports page for the above mentioned tournament. 91 A s noted above, visibility or being seen was an important theme in gangs that also transposed itself onto boxing. Figure 5 NDT Feb ruary 3 , 1951. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Company (UAC) for another tournament showcasing the good works of the 90 Ibid. 91 NDT July 5, 1948.
201 and boxing. The UAC was one of the largest employers in Lagos and Nigeria and had a long history of promoting sports in the colony. It is interesting to note that those in the fought against similarly aged employed Nigerians from various compan ies . Moreover, the event was well a ttended, having more than 250 spectators, including Lagosian Judge Abbott and Mr. J.P.E.C. Marindin, the principal of the Welfare Training School in , and again Faulkner was the Master of Ceremonies, with Collister as the Jud . 92 . 93 One fighter for the UAC that night was Speedy Twitch, who played an important role in the spread of boxing in Lagos in the mid 1950s when he retired and became a boxing coach. 94 Twitch was famous l ocally for his smooth fighting style and speed, and had influenced many Lagosian youths toward boxing. 95 defeated UAC in three of the fight bouts on the card and won the tournament, and to some it demonstrated that the boxing ring was a great equalizer between those in society as young, unemployed, and possibly uneducated young men b eat young men who had opportunity , education, and employment. 92 Ringsider , NDT Aug 19, 1948. 93 Ibid. 94 Interview with Olu Moses , Lagos, Nigeria, May 2012 spoke highly of his coaching abilities. He was sought after to coach leading contenders in the late 1950s. 95 Ibid.
202 Figure 5 3 . O. Ajala and S. Bamgbade, examples of amateur boxers in newspapers. These two were shown together, in fighting pose, to attract fans to the first amateur show of the Lagos Island Sports Committee. WAP May 22, 1951. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. Before the end of other many tournaments as possible, both to bring awareness to his work, but also to attract welfare agenda was working and that boxing was an acceptable leisure pursuit for the s be congratulated for their good work in 96 Faulkner and Marindin were to be given for 97 These boxing tournaments were places that local promoters and boxing aficionados congregated , and 96 Boxing by a Ringsider NDT Aug . 28, 1948. 97 Ibid. uplifting being another word for building character, which was often visualized as moving vertically similar to racial supremacy
203 it was usual that the spectators included boxing fans like Deejaysee [DJC], and his henchmen Mr. Pet r i 98 T hese three men were instrumental in promoting and legitimizing professional boxing in Nigeria and creating the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control in 1949. As promoters and managers, especially for Peregrino, it was at the l other amateur contests, which they hoped to find the next professional champion to add to their own clubs Clubs 99 Many boys knew this, and the provided their chance to get noticed and move upward in Lagosian boxing circles as well as society itself. A chance to work with Peregrino at the Paramount Boxing Club was a chance for some of the best training and promotion in Lagos, and with it a chance to make money and be locally famous. 100 But these clubs were more than simply boxing training centers , they were a place to make friends and connections. In October 1948, the Isheri Approved School , a remand house set up by Faulkner, hosted the first attached to the school . Local boxing stars Young Panther of Nigerian Boxing Club, Slugger Chocolate of the Railways, Jack Armstrong of Railways, and Jack Giwan of the Colony Boxing Club were in attendance and gave a few exhibitions to excited young boys . 101 By 1950, 98 Ibid. 99 , NDT June 13, 1950. 100 NDT Oct . 26, 1949 . 101 NDT Oct . 23, 1950.
204 annual picnics were a common theme for many as a chanc e to reconnect with past members and form community bonds. Pictures and descriptions of days at the beach or picnics were common in the newspaper, and many of these picnic and beach days had boxing tournaments or exhibitions as part of the festivities. 102 Th ey were also eagerly attended and remembered later in life . 103 By 1950, there were several youth and on Lagos Island and the mainland, and this caused an expansion of the number of amateur boxing tournaments that were held around Lagos. Starting in late 1950 s housed one of the best boxing rings in the city, was the site of biweekly amateur contests because there were so many boys boxing in the clubs. These contests became part of the increased newspaper coverage on Bo The inclusion of local professional boxers in these events was now expected in various roles like referee, judges, or timekeepers. Many of these boxers were asked by Faulkner and Collister to take part and help show some guidance to these youth and young men. Also, many of these boxers had become local heroes to the boys and their presence was encouraging. For example, in a tournament in February 1950, boxer Red Raymond was a judge (along with Faulkner), and Freddie Boon Ilori was the referee (along with Jack Farnsworth). 104 It was noted in the newspaper reports that members of 102 NDT Feb . 7, 1950 . They had a boxing tournament along with swimming and other games for the boys. 48 boys attended. 103 Interview with Olu Moses, Lagos, Nigeria, June 2013. 104 NDT Feb . 23, 1950 . Nap Peregrino, the
205 the audience were came from all over Lagos to this show at Apapa. 105 What is notable is that the winner of the tournament was given a cash prize, something very valuable to these were possessions eagerly sought after and held sentimental value to boxers for years to come. 106 Moreover, many tournament winners had their pictures printed in the local newspapers, in boxing p ose with gloves, trunks, and shirtless, displaying their body and aggression. They became a symbol for many young boys and youn g men of boxers started to make the jump to the professional class, and with it professional Creating Character? , that boxing was considered legitimate and worthy for the government patronage. In October 1949, it was announced that the Governor would be in attendance at an upcoming boxing tournament, to which the NDT reported that: encourag ement towards the progress of our sports in general. The country cannot afford to regard Sport as a negligible sideline if we are to develop a true sense of honour to face tests and trials. 107 105 Ibid. 106 Abraham Adeyemi Jones explained to me how he treasured several of the prizes he won during his career, especially the clothing and medals as forms of accomplishment. Interview with Abraham Adeyemi Jones , Lagos, Nigeria, June 2012. 107 NDT Oct . 26 , 1949 .
206 H aving the governor attend the contests, but more importantly g ive his patronage for boxing , reinforced the discourse of its usefulness for shaping young Nigerians towards 108 Before the war, the Governors of Nigeria had refused to patronize boxing clubs, and the newfo und acceptance and patronage of boxing by the colonial government was important. B y the 1950s there was no denying that the popularity of boxing was rising fast. As mentioned before, the NDT reported that over the country; only one thing is wanted unflagging encouragement to harness this newfound energy for 109 This newfound energy, or in other words, the energies of the next generation , pastimes and delinquent behaviors. T he connection is clear national progress and honor depended on the youth and being able to channel youthful energies into dependable pathways. In order to become proper citizens and useful for the nation, sport was req uired. A major problem facing the colonial and Lagos city council was funding the huge demand for sporting and leisure complexes and parks. Much of the initial funding came from public donations as well as the initiative of local businessmen. In February 1 950, a that: The Kakawa and Yaba have been organized as models and they have well s erved the purpose of bridging the gap between the old village which was the heritage of the past and the modern community. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid.
207 afforded the youths a good training ground for life, has b een effected. 110 Again, the idea of progress was at the center of colonial thinking on sport and youth. United Kingdom in 1950 and saw the good effect that had on British youth, which made him question the current practice of having young men and boys in Nigeria disgusted at seeing healthy young boys playing ping pong in every nook and corner of Olowogbowo area, or congregating in side streets in gossip and profit 111 Table Tennis or Ping Pong, like gossiping, was not a worthwhile pastime, at least in the eyes of many colonists. Nor did it teach discipline, the main fact or in molding Nigerian by this time, would do a better job, thought Williams. Moreover, the example of Williams shows how the appreciation n to men became more pronounced. By March 1950 it was apparent to many Lagosians that the Welfare Services along with the instituted by Faulkner were obtaining some successes in ND T , sensing that self government, if not full independence, was on the horizon, realized that more services and clubs were needed to obtain that goal. Only when the poor and destitute had been government become a re ality. 112 In order to 110 NDT Feb . 1 5, 1950. 111 Ibid. 112 nion NDT Mar . 30 , 1950.
208 and Remand Housing. 113 The main focus was Nigerians needed training morally and culturally , especially youths who could not control or harness their restless energies : due to the fact that young people cannot control themselves by any means. If they are made miserable by neglect, sometimes they try to call att ention to themselves by shining in evil things. Hence one of the functions of youth groups is to get them engaged in s 114 Only through strict discipline and moral guidance , provided by proper citizens, could self government be achi eved. The Lagos Amateur Boxing Association By mid 1951, amateur boxing had become so popular in and in company sports clubs like UAC, the West African Soap Company, and Costain that many felt it was time to create an organization to regulate a nd sanction amateur boxing. Many thought that s omething should be done for the average boxer who will never be a pro fessional boxer but likes to train 2 3 times a week. The NDT reported that, was after a small show at Costains ring recently tha t the Lagos Amateur Box ing Association wa s conceived that took place at Glover Memorial Hall, the site of most major professional fights. 115 113 Ibid. 114 NDT Apr il 15 , 1950 . 115 hampionship for Lagos NDT June 29, 1951. LABA c ame into being with the following officials acting: J.W. Farnsworth (NBBC), Chairman; E.G. Ellis (WA Soap), Hon. Secretary; A.H. (Mainland B oys Club Sports Committee), J. Hairrison, P. Hickman (Costains), J.D. Horan (Costains), and DS July 3 , 1951 ; and W AP Jul y 10 , 1951 .
209 creation of the L ABA was missed at first by the NDT: rious omission made in the names of gentlemen recently published supporting the new Association was that of Mr. D.E. Faulkner, OBE. He, of course, has always fostered the amateur spirit of the 116 Th e LABA sponsored/organized tournament was well received by local boxing clubs and Clubs , and had over 220 entrants. 117 So many boys entered that the tournament was extended so that it was held daily starting in August , and even so there were between 250 and 500 spectators watching the boys fight every night . 118 As the NDT reported, 119 The early rounds of the tournament were f ree admission , boosting the attendance and providing an opportunity for many who could not afford tickets before to see boxing for the first time. 120 Seeing the popularity that the event was having, the West African Soap Company, the makers of Lifebuoy Soap , donated a trophy cup known for several years as the Lifebuoy Cup to be presented to 116 NDT July 3 , 1951. 117 NDT Aug . 7 , 1951. So far the amateur contest for Oct 12 has 221 entries. M ike Fadipe of Broadway Boxing Club has 50 entries. Nap at Paramount has 44. Other clubs that have entered 10 or more are Costains (23), WASCO (15) Ereko Boys High School (12) and Mapara Boys Club (Isheri) (10). With so many entries they are havi ng a round robin the week of August 20th to eliminate contestants at the Onikan ring. The second week will take place at the Railway ring and the Costains rings. 118 NDT Aug 30 , 1951. The articles listed that several clubs had boxers left in the competition. Broadway had 33, Param ount 29, Isheri 9, Costains 11, Yaba 7, WASCO 6, Ijero, Royal and ZAC each 4, Nigerian 3, Oko Awo and Oyingbo each 2, CMS, Gregorian, Ereko, Faji, Eko, Daily Times, Mainland, Baptased and Onikan each 1 left. 119 Ibid. 120 NDT Aug . 20 Preliminary Bouts Of The Amateur Boxing WAP Aug. 20, 1951.
210 the winning club who had the most champions . 121 T his trophy, incidentally , Will be one o f 122 When the Amateur Championship tournament was coming to an end, the NDT boxing correspondent , remarked that: Organized amateur boxing is a new thing in Nigeria and I am sure our fans must be astonished at the almost incredible developments that have taken place in the last few weeks. And what is more, the standard is high. It is from these young men that the future professional champions of Nigeria Faulkner, and Red Raymond, who, you will remember, can hand out a few hard wallops h imself. Paramount and Broadway will be there in force too, so look out for fireworks. 123 When word reached Collister , the father of professional boxing and first chairman of the NBBC, he wrote an open letter to Nigerians published in the newspapers , remarking that formation of the Nigerian Amateur Boxing Association, and I am quite sure all sporting fans will join me in wishing the founders and officials every success in th is worth while 124 Amateur boxing was important, remarked Collister , because it was the 125 121 Jayeff , NDT Sept . 18, 1950. 122 Ibid. 123 eur Boxing Semi NDT Sept 24, 1950. 124 Deejaysee , NDT Oct 8, 1951. 125 Ibid .
211 Figure 5 4 . The Pr . Isheri won the most championship matches during the Annual Amateur Boxing Championships. NDT October 16, 1951. Courtesy of the National Archives of Nigeria. expanded beyond the borders of Lagos, and by 1951 news of boxing and clubs in other places started appearing in Lagosian newspapers. For example, in April 1951, word had reached Lagos of a recent successful boxing tournament in Aba between the Aba Boys Club at the Emy Cinema in Aba. 126 In April 1950, Deputy Commissioner of the Colony Major JGC Allen went on a tour of several , including the Oko Baba club 127 Major Allen was given a 126 NDT April 12 , 1951. Tourney between Aba Boys Clu b and the Enugu Boys Club at the Emy Cinema in Aba. Mentions the boys had been training for only a short time but showed promise and ended in a 3 of various towns 127 NDT Apr . 18 , 1950 .
212 tour of the facilities and shown where the new clubhouse was to be built in the near event was attended by over 70 club members. 128 Thus, by the early to m id entrenched in the social fabric of colonial Lagos and even into other Nigerian cities , not only as the youths themselves found value s in boxing that conformed to their worldview and conditions they felt in the city. Their reactions to the social and economic conditions in Lagos and to boxing shaped a robust masculine subculture that competed and complimented already present ideals and standards the next decade, this subculture was not only the backbone of boxing, but also affected and shaped Muscular Citizenship for a generation of Nigerian men. 128 Ibid.
213 CHAPTER 6 L, LAGOS, AND BOXING THE BRITISH EMPIRE The Empire Boxes Back Peter Banasko had his first professional fight at age 17. He was born and grew up in Liverpool, the son of a mixed marriage: his father was from the Gold Coast and his mother from Liverpool. He started amateur boxing in 1929, and after participating in over 100 fights at the amateur level by the time he was 14, he wanted to try his hand at the professional class. He worked with the famous Liverpool promoter Johnny Best and although he prepared fo r his first fight, he was knocked out in the very first round. But this did not stop him, and he went on to a 40 match winning streak after that potentially disastrous first knockout. 1 However, he was barred from competing for a British National Boxing Tit le due to his color. This made him an outsider. As Banasko noted years later, 2 any non make a living off boxing. 3 He was the first black manager or trainer in Liverpoo l, and most likely the whole of England. Through his boxing career, he became friends with other Liverpudlian boxing enthusiasts, Douglas J. Collister (see Chapter 4 ) and Jack 1 The Johnny Best mentioned throughout this chapter was Johnny Best, Senior, the famous Liverpool fight promoter and manager. His son, Johnny, Juni or, also a promoter and manager of boxers in the 1950s, will not be discussed in this chapter. 2 Quoted in Jim Jenkinson and Gary Shaw, The Mersey Fighters , (Preston: Milo Books, Ltd., 2004), 11. 3 Ibid.
214 Farnsworth (discussed below), both of whom played an integral role in the creation and promotion of boxing in Nigeria. When Collister and Farnsworth saw a boxer with r Dick Tiger, they sent them to work with Banasko in Liverpool. Although many boxers left Nigeria, and not all went to Liverpool, it was those that went to Banasko that saw the most success Hogan Bassey became the first Nigerian to win a British Empire C hampionship in 1955. By the early 1950s, Banasko was a household name in Lagos, known for being an excellent trainer and manager through the newspaper reports sent by Collister back to Nigeria. This chapter looks at an important aspect of the popularizatio n of boxing in Lagos and the formation of a Nigerian identity: the visible success of Nigerian boxers in mportance as a port for the colony and a mecca of trade. 4 Many West African companies like the United Africa Company had their headquarters in Liverpool, while many shipping lines like Holt and Co. also were stationed in Liverpool and shipped both people a nd goods from England to various ports in West Africa. Yet, the connection to Liverpool ran much deeper than trade and economics. This economic link between Liverpool and Lagos facilitated cultural links, specifically the boxing relationship between the tw o cities. Although employment in Liverpool based businesses was the primary reason that boxing fanatics like Collister and Farnsworth were in Lagos in the first place, they contributed to 4 Ayodeji Olukoju, he Dynamics and Impact of Maritime Trade in Lagos, 1900 1950 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2004).
215 recreating their Liverpool boxing experience as well as they could i n Lagos. Liverpool was a boxing hotbed during the interwar and post WWII eras, and men like Collister and colour bar on British Boxing Titles and loosened travel restric tions on Nigerians and other peoples from the Empire to come to Britain in 1948, an important aspect of the international sports stars. The success of these boxers in ternationally created more than a sense of pride, they created the first national icon during the independence era of 8 ). However, without the work of Banasko, the conditions of boxing in Liverpool, or the tireless work of D.J. Collister to report boxing news back to Lagos newspapers after his retirement, boxing in Nigeria would have taken a much different path. Banasko became the lynchpin that tied Nigerian boxers in Liverpool to fans in Lagos, and with out him the success of Nigerian boxers was not assured. In order to fully understand the spread and success of boxing in Nigeria we must recognize the important parts played by Peter Banasko and D.J. Collister after WWII. By looking at their journey, the r ole of their sporting labor, and the ways in which they combatted racism physically, we can gain a better understanding of the movement of men and women within the Empire, their experiences abroad, their meaning to those back home, and the position and pla ce of Nigerians within the Black Atlantic. This chapter will first discuss the economic connection between Lagos and Liverpool that later facilitated the boxing link. It is then followed by an analysis of two important events that took place in June of 19 48 that allowed for Nigerian boxers a
216 chance for success. The first was the passing of the British Nationality Act that loosened travel restrictions for persons born in the Empire. The second major event was a boxing match in which Dick Turpin, a British b orn Black, won the British Middleweight Championship and with that victory shattered the British colour bar on boxing titles. These two events not only allowed for Nigerians to travel and fight for Empire Titles, but as a manager and trainer. The chapter then looks at the impact that Nigerian boxers had on the city of Liverpool and how that success radiated through the newspaper reports of D.J. Collister to Nigerians in Lagos and Nigeria at large. Looking at this aspe ct of Nigerian boxing history allows one to see its importance to independence, masculinity, and national identity. The relationship of Peter Banasko with Nigerian boxers, and their impact on Nigeria and other colonial highlights an unexplored avenue of Paul Gilroy argued that through mediums were formed in the international and transatlantic experiences of the diaspora. 5 Gilroy deftly shows how the Black Atlantic was shaped through black responses to racism and through cult ural contact and ultimately transcended the modern construct of the which could not contain the influences and power of those within and around the Diaspora. What Gilroy misses is that t 5 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993).
217 that is occupied by black bodies. During the 1950s, the boxing ring was the most visible example of this: it was a contested physical space occupied by Empire boxers from across the Atlantic that converged in Bri tain . These boxers impacted and were impacted by th e racism they encountered. The ring as physical space was another medi um for the debate about modern black men by focusing on the black male body and physical dominance. Gilroy has been criticized by others for oversimplifying the African connection and im pact on the Black Atlantic. His focus on African American and Black British cultural forms and persons, at the expense of Africans themselves, does not give us a full picture of the impact that Africans had in the creation of and debates about the Black At lantic. 6 Nor can the cultural impacts of music, literature, and religion fully encapsulate the experiences and processes of creating the Black Atlantic. Through boxing, African boxers, and particularly Nigerian ones, contributed to and challenged this disc ourse. white boxer s from Britain and the United States. This style was attributed to not only their perceived lack of culture but also their race , and was described in racial ter ms. Their physicality was on display. Thus, they were highly quite literally, their cultural expression in a way unique from the other cultural forms discussed by Gilroy. Boxing, because of its popularity and the visibility of bo xers in the ring, cut across class, gender, and racial lines, while linking Africans into the debates within the Black Atlantic. The physicality of boxing, the ring, and the focus/emphasis on the black body 6 Research in African Literatures , 27. 4 (1996), 88 96; African Affairs , 104. 414 (2005), 35 68.
218 had a deeper impact on racial discourse and reach ed more people in the Black Atlantic than the work of black intellectuals, on whom Gilroy focuses. While the majority of Africans did not (or could not) read the works of intellectuals, many in Nigeria and other British colonial peoples across the Black At lantic did know who the World Boxing Champion was. As explained in Chapter 3 , the physical aspect of the Black Atlantic also influenced cultural forms, as influential American boxers like Joe Louis played an integral and influential role in shaping the which those within the Black Atlantic could aspire. Moreover, he showed how successful a black person could be in a sport known for physical violence and how one can be The British Empire Boxin g C hampionship s, which stretched across the Black Atlantic , highlighted the unequal relationship between metropole and colonies/dominions, and yet was also a space of equal competition where distinct fighting styles, ideals, and conceptions of race met. Af ter WWII, t he racism across the Empire was at times contested literally with in the ring , but as the example of Banasko shows, also outside the ropes . Boxing both and served to blur the racial lines. The b lack immigr ant to Britain , whether Nigerian or from another colony, faced many racial stereotypes: he would be perceived a s a sexual predator , lazy, averse to hard work, having a violent streak/short temper forged through colonialism and an aggressive attitude, and e asily succumbing to primal instincts and desires. 7 7 n Men in Mid Twentieth Century Britain Journal of British Studies, 40, no. 3 (2001), 391 418. Also see Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History Of Black People In Britain . (London: Pluto Press, 1984), 374 .
219 commented on a new Empire boxer in 1955 that , . . . appeared to be a lackadaisical in his work but I knew that he was taking things e asily . 8 Thus, a boxing audience in Liverpool in the 1950s was not surprised to see black bodies in the ring. However, the black boxer was not equal to white boxers : critics maligned boxing footwork or sound defensive tactics. Rather, British audiences saw black boxers a this superiority of the white in mental cap acity and emotional stability that gave them an air of civilized, modern men while relegating Empire boxers to their role as others, less civilized, and in need of mentoring. stereotypes and helped turn Empire boxers from a spectacle of curiosity to a spectacle of respect. The relationship between spectator and spectacle is one of power and hierarchy, where those in power perpetuate tropes to justify their position of superiority. For exa mple, a common myth was that black boxers had weak bodies that you could punch specifically, in the midsection and easily knock them down. 9 The Liverpool man could not many Empire boxers could in fact be hit in the midsection and not crumble. 10 Even as 8 Artie Towne was the specific fighter mentioned here, but this was a familiar trope heard around boxing Liverpool Echo , July 9, 1955. 9 Racial theories of black fighters dated back to the Nineteenth Century and based their inferiority on the idea that they had weak stomachs and cowardly behavior. See Finis Farr, Black Champion: The Life and Times of Jack Johnson (New York: Scribner, 1964), 26. 10 Liverpool Echo, Nov 16, 1951.
220 late as 1955 this was still a myth circulating with whites: desperately hard country at the moment. They are the most conscien tious trainers I have ever seen 11 The repeat edly 1950s comment on how gentlemanly, kind, and trustworthy Nigerians and Empire 12 These images and des criptions were cabled back to Nigeria, and the success of Nigerian fighters in the ring impacted not only masculinity, but also the shape of nationalism (for further discussion, see Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 ). Liverpool 13 Nigerian boxers found more success in Liverpool than any other city because of ade, West African migration, the importance of boxing to the city , and Peter Banasko . Liverpool, with its position on the mouth of the Mersey River and easy acce ss to the Atlantic Ocean, was a much closer port from the west than the economic hub of London for Manchester, which grew to prominence during the Industrial Revolution. 14 By 1795, Liverpool controlled roughly seventy five percent of the 11 Liverpool Echo , Aug . 17, 1955. 12 Liverpool Echo 24 Mar 1956; The Liverpool Echo Liverpool Echo 25 April 1957; The St Liverpool Echo 25 Feb 1957; Liverpool Echo 4 May 1957. 13 Found in John Belchem, Before Windrush: Race Relations in twentieth century Liverpool (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014), 1. 14 For a detailed history of Liverpool, see Mike Fletcher, The Making of Liverpool (Barnsley: Wharncliffe, 2004).
221 British slave trade and almost sixty percent of the European slave trade. 15 In fact by the end of World War One it was the second largest port in Britain, next to London. 16 As a port city Liverpool had a more fluid population, reinforced by constant migrations from Irish, Wels h, Scots, and, after WWII, West Indians and West Africans. 17 As Lynn Schler argues, Africans had been on merchant vessels since the beginning of Atlantic suffered from the tro 18 WWII exacerbated this seaman shortage, and companies like Elder Dempster, who controlled a large amount of trade, mail, and passenger shipping to West Africa, recruited directly from Nigeria and other ports in W est Africa for the first time during the war. 19 Nigerian and other seamen would stay in Liverpool in between contracts, sometimes for months or years at a time, often working at the docks. 20 seafaring populat ion consisting of some of the oldest black communities in England. 21 The Liverpool of Peter Banasko was both cosmopolitan and racially diverse, and was simultaneously a segregated city with deep racial tensions. When Nigerian boxers 15 Michael Parkinson, Liverpool on the Brink (Berks: Policy Journals, 1985), 10 and Ray Costello, Black Liverpool: 1918 (Birkenhead; Birkenhead Press, ltd, 2001), 8. 16 Parkinson, Liverpool , 10. 17 identities in twentiet Northern Identities: Historical Interpretations of (Ashgate: Burlington, 2000), 197. Liverpool was such an important hub for immigration that the first international airport built in Engl and was in Liverpool. 18 Lynn Schler, Nation on Board: Becoming Nigerian at Sea (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2016), 13. 19 Ibid., 35. 20 Ibid, 43 4. 21 Ibid. Liverpool also had the oldest Chinese population in England.
222 began traveling to 700,000 people, and a sizable percentage of that was black residents. 22 Even then, black boxers were excluded, segregated, and discriminated against, as described below. Because of the continu ed trade between Liverpool and West Africa, West African men became fixtures in Liverpool; many settled in the city and married local women, like 23 Warri trips between Liverpool and West Africa. 24 As Schler has found, part of the appeal for becoming a seaman was the allure of travel and exploration, and with it came friendships and social bonds across the Atlantic. But African seamen were often met with apprehension and racial prejudic e, because the white elite of Liverpool feared mixed race children. This social anxiety is apparent in mixed race children. 25 Her findings reported that mixing of races, which was forbidden in the colonies, led to fatherless children raised in immorality in Liverpool as black men 22 Liverpool Archives 1951 British Census. 23 Sekondi, 23/11/1926 no 5923. Approved by Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, Brigadier General. Height 5ft 11 inches. DOB Cape Coast 14/1 0/1888 again I have come across different DOBs 1885/89/90! Identify/Service certificate gives date of birth as 1st of January 1886 and place of birth King Edward Town BWA. Kofi was his nick name. Allegedly educated at a Roman Catholic School within his personal papers was an English Fanti Catechism of Christian Doctrine but in the name of Master James Moses Hagan, Roman Catholic School, Cape Coast 20/01/09. Reportedly had a sister called Marcella or Marcia who visited granddad on her way to America in t he 1940s. Different spellings for our surname Banasko (the spelling used by my family), Barnasco, Bernesco etc. Probably phonetic. Married my grandmother 24/04/1915, the rank/profession of his father was given as 'Gentleman', he was deceased and his name was Peter Banasko. Earliest date on his Certificate of Discharge 24/05/1911 Liverpool was a fireman on the ship Warri For more information about 18 th and nineteenth century Liverpool and its reliance on and connection to West African seamen, see Diane Frost, Work and Community Among West African Migrant Workers, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1998). 24 Email correspondence with Peter Banasko, Junior, March 13 , 2015. 25 Journal of Historical Sociology 21, 2 3 (2008): 238.
223 could not control their sexual mores, were constantly traveling, and were a threat to white women and thus the city. 26 Yet, since the need for cheap labor continued, African men continued to be recrui ted to work for Liverpudlian companies and as such, African men and Nigerians in particular became a more noticeable fixture in Liverpool. Kofi Banasko settled in Liverpool, and his son Peter had an indelible impact on Nigerian boxing. Boxing was a favorit e sport of Liverpudlians during the interwar years, especially for dock workers, seamen, other working class men, and school boys. At the same time, and similar to what happened in Nigeria after the Second World War, the 1930s in Liverpool saw the prolifer ation of , replete with boxing rings and trained coaches, which were created to teach young and at risk youth valuable skills like courage, character, discipline, and sportsmanship. In fact, there were close to 2500 in Britain by 195 7 with an estimated enrollment of 250,000 boys the success of which was copied to Nigeria, as noted in Chapter 5 . 27 Peter Banasko was born into this environment in Liverpool in 1915, and like many young boys in the city, he took to boxing. He started the sport in Robertson Street in Dingle. 28 For many boys growing up in Liverpool, boxing was a rite of passage during the interwar years, and schoolboy boxing championships were hotly 26 Lynn Schler, 62 3. 27 Liverpool Echo, March 7, 1957. 28 St several activities to teach discipline, respect, and courage to young boys. It was closed in 2010. Ben 100 years Liverpool Echo , July 21, 2010.
224 contested and desired. 29 At the age of fourteen he had amassed 100 amateur fights and became a schoolboy champion, even meeting the Prince of Wales, who gave him a gold watch. 30 Banasko recalled that this watch and several other medals he had won through boxing had been stolen over the years, h ighlighting the rough character of Liverpool as a dangerous city where one needed to learn how to protect oneself. At 17, he turned professional under the promoter Johnny Best, who founded the Liverpool disaster: he was knocked out in setback , however, and went on to win 40 contests in a row. As previously mentioned, even with his skill and winning streak, Banasko as I was coloured I would never 31 Despite the racism of the time, Banasko made a name for himself as a boxer, and his reputation along with his connection to Johnny Best came in handy when he himself became a manager. Johnny Best Seni or, a former Army Middleweight champion boxer and avid boxing fan, built the first boxing 1932, and promoted weekly fights featuring local talent. 32 29 Interview with Terry Carson, June 2014, Liverpool, England. 30 Jenkinson and Shaw, The Mersey Fighters , 11. Banasko was part of the charity show at Lambeth Baths, run by the Metropolitan Police. 31 Ibid. 32 Live rpool Stadium: Cuttings and Views, 1932 1957, Liverpool Archives: HQ796.83 STA . The Liverpool Stadium was closed down in 1985 and demolished in 1987. Interview with Jim Jenkinson, June 2014 and George Wiggins June 2014. Best had been the boxing promoter of the previous Liverpool Stadium on Pudsey Street, but that was a multipurpose arena that was in need of renovations; it was cold, it was poorly lit, and most importantly, it did not accommodate enough spectators. It also had many blind spots specifical ly columns/supports that obstructed the view of spectators and made boxing shows difficult for fans to watch. Best wanted a boxing stadium that was made for boxing first and foremost. He found the perfect place for the new stadium to be built, but it had o ne major drawback it was on the site
225 known to boxers and fans alik e, was located on Bixteth Street, then a popular thoroughfare in the heart of the warehouse district in downtown Liverpool. 33 It contained several dressing rooms, baths an d showers, and lights that produced a whopping 34 Opening night on October 20 th 1932 sold out, with a crowd of over 5,000. 35 Jonny Best took pride in the fact that Liverpool Stadium was a sort of before heading up to the big time championship fights. 36 As Sydney Dye, Liverpool boxing reporter f or the Liverpool Echo 37 Nigerian fighters th at he managed. The Stadium became a second home to many Nigerians. warnings and objections, to build his stadium on the old gravesite after getting approval from the priest and moving the graves elsewhere. Interview with Jim Jenkinson, June 2012; Liverpool Archives : HQ796.83 STA Liverpool Stadium: Cuttings and Views, 1932 Champions 33 Grand Opening Programme of the Stadium 1932. Liverpool Archives: HQ796 .83 STA Liverpool Stadium: Cuttings and Views, 1932 1957 34 Ibid. 35 possible. Because of the view and large seating capacity, the Stadium also became a s ite for wrestling shows, political rallies, union meetings, pageants, and what we would call trade shows today. But it was boxing that made the Stadium famous (and profitable) and was its number one attraction. In fact, because of the location (graveyard), and the fact that on opening night in 1932, 3 British champions lost their titles, , Liverpool, England, June 2012 36 Liverpool Archives : HQ796.83 STA Liverpool Stadium: Cuttings and Views, 1932 1957. Sydney Dye 37 Ibid.
226 Boxing in Liverpool after WWII was at its highpoint of popularity and participation, with the Stadium and Johnny Best putting on a show every Thursday. The vast unemployment in England afte r the war, coupled with the devaluation of the Pound Sterling, meant that boxing promoters after the war search ed England for fighters, paying large sums of money to local fighters. 38 Because of these factors, cities like Liverpool, and many others in the h otbed of boxing in Northern England, attracted many working class laborers towards boxing as a career, or at the very least to supplement their income. 39 In fact, by 1949, there were over 5,000 boxers who held licenses to fight with the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC), and an average of 1000 fight promotions per month were being staged across Britain. 40 At the time, boxing gyms and arenas were popular places, with lots of young hungry fighters waiting in the wings to make it big. 41 As Terry Carson expla ined, his brother was a boxer, and several boys in 42 But the talented boxers were not forthcoming, and many promoters complained that there were ng bred in Britain. 43 Nigerian boxers first arrived on the scene in Liverpool due to the continuing popularity of boxing in postwar Liverpool. Even as the number of British boxers 38 Liverpool Echo Oct. 8, 1949. 39 See chapter 4 in Makinde, Dick Tiger . 40 Ibid. , 38. 41 o continental Liverpool Echo Liverpool Echo Sept . 17 , Liverpool Echo , Jan . 12 , 1955. 42 Interview with Terry Carson, Liverpool, England, June 2014. 43 The St Liverpool Echo Aug . 12 , 1950 .
227 declined, Liverpool continued to attract Nigerian boxers and they filled the void that British boxers left. D.J. Collister must have seen this need for more boxers, and knowing the caliber of several Nigerian fighters himself, he might have suggested to bring them over to try their hand against British boxers. Although 1948 saw the dismantling of the colour bar thanks to the BNA without the culture of enthusiasm and infrastructure for boxing in Liverpool itself, Nigerians would have had few options for places to make boxing a career outside N igeria. Furthermore , they were needed to keep boxing alive in Liverpool. While there were a great many boxers in the clubs and gyms, by the early 1950s there was a drop in the number of professional British fighters for a few reasons. First, the recovery o f Britain towards full employment meant that fewer laborers were willing to fight for a few pounds sterling when they had steady jobs. Second, even fewer British men saw boxing as a viable career, with more and more being part time fighters. The arrival of Empire fighters, therefore, alleviated these problems they came as full time fighters, they had talent, and they wanted to box. 44 Collister and Farnsworth, through their employment in trade companies, facilitated the movement of Nigerian boxers to Liverp ool. with West Africa meant that many large companies were headquartered in Liverpool. P.N. Davies argues that the continuing and frequently remade trade connections between Liverpool and Lagos over the previous century brought Lagos into the world 44 The The , 1950; and The . 8 , 1949 .
228 economy through the efforts of large Liverpool companies like Elder Dempster. 45 Lagos was a principle provider of palm kernels, cotton, palm oil, cocoa, and groundnuts to Liverpool. 46 As Olukoju argues, Lagos was the premier port in Wes t Africa, and as such mostly native Liverpudlians. 47 These companies sent hundreds of employees across West Africa in places like Lagos and Accra, employees like Douglas Col lister (United Africa Company) and Jack Farnsworth (British West Africa Company or BWAC), who came to Lagos during and after WWII. Like the colonial administrators examined in Chapter 2 , both Farnsworth and Collister were products of the British sporting s chool ethos. Both had come from Liverpool, both were schoolboy athletes, sportsmen, and, most importantly, both were boxing aficionados in the Liverpoo l circuit. As we saw in Chapter4 and Chapter 5 , both played an incredible part in Lagos in the creation o f professional and amateur boxing. Furthermore, both Collister and Farnsworth through their boxing connections in Liverpool were friends with Peter Banasko. T he B ritish Nationality Act of 1948 WWII was a watershed moment in Britain, just as it was in Lagos. Political developments in Britain, connected to the economic factors described previously, also facilitated the influx of Nigerian boxers to Liverpool and Britain. 45 P. N. Davies, The Trade Makers: Elde r Dempster in West Africa 1852 1 972 (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1973) . 46 Agricultural Export Trade of Nigeria, 1889 African Economic History , No. 26 (1998), 99 118; and African Economic History , No. 20 (1992), pp. 119 135 . 47 119.
229 48 49 48 John Belchem, Before Windrush: Race Relations in twentieth century Liverpool (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014) . 49 Marcus 391.
230 50 51 Dick Turpin and the Colour Bar on B oxing For several years after the war Dick Turpin was denied a c hance to fight for the British C hampionship because of his color , even though it was widely recognized that his skill was superb. 52 Finally, on 28 th June 1948, 50 Although two thirds of this wartime migration were repatriated back to the West Indies, those that stayed Prejudi ce 391. 51 Ibid. 52 Liverpool Echo , October 1, 1949 the Somme. He came back from t war injuries. The Turpins were born in Warwick and, like their father before them, served for the British army during wartime. Dick Turpin had served two years in WWII in the 8Th Army Reg iment in the Western Desert, while his brother Randolph had served as a cook for the Royal Navy. They had been boxers before and during the war, and when the war was finished, they wanted a fair shot at the British Championship something they thought of as their right. The Turpins argued that their ability to fight for
231 described above, Dick Turpin was given his chance. Turpin beat the white champion Vince Hawkins, which skyrocketed his fame within Britain and all over the Empire . As the Liverpool Echo proclaimed in 1949, first coloured man capture a British boxing title and in doing so end for ever a ban which was monstrous to our 53 there could a colored man have had the opportunity to win such a prize. However, in Nigeria and other colonies, pictures of the new black champion standing over the white former champion were eagerly consumed by a boxing hungry people in search of a black hero. Turpin was proof for Nigerians of the possibilities of fame and a form of equality through boxing. When Turpin won the title, he made the front page of the Nigerian Daily Times, As it is, the Turpin Brot hers have revenged (the) Colour Bar which has kept the British coloured subjects for some time away from 54 It just so happened that as Turpin was breaking the color bar, the British government was breaking the Empi re bar (or restriction) on travel. This was an important moment for Nigerians, as the issue of a similar colour bar in the colonies that prevented Nigerians from obtaining high civil service positions or higher positions in large companies was a constant t opic of debate . The fact that a colour bar, even in boxing, was smashed proved that the fight for change the British title was based on two facts: they were born and bred on British Soil, and that they had fought and served their country, willing to sacrifice their lives if they had to in orde r to defeat Nazism. 53 Ibid. 54 NDT J uly 2, show of respect include not only a full replica Dick Turpin who became Nigerian flyweight champion in the mid1950s, but also K id Turpin and Young Dick Turpin.
232 was possible. Dick Turpin as a symbol was so popular to Nigerians that several fighters chose to name themselves after Turpin , including a Nigerian box er of the late 1940s and early 1950s who fought under the name Dick Turpin as a sign of respect and admiration for the boxer from Britain who smashed the boxing colour bar. Boxing was the last sport to lift a colour bar in Britain. 55 According to John Hardi ng, the color bar itself was under attack by the incoming post war Labour Government as early as 1946. 56 In fact, in 1947 Arthur Creech Jones, then Colonial bar [in boxi ng] as quite unjustified. I hope the [British Boxing] Board [of Control] may be persuaded to alter their practice and with that in furth er view of representations will be 57 Up until this point, colonial secretaries had been in agreement with the board on the subject, the justification being that if a white champion were to lose to a colonial subject, then civil unrest and disorder would circulate in the colonies. 58 In fact, Charles Donmall, then Secretary of the BBBC, said in an interview in 19 only right that a small country such as ours should have championships restricted to boxers of white parents otherwise we might be faced with a situation where all our 59 Donmall was not al one in his fear, but the changes wrought by WWII and pressure from two British born black fighters, one 55 John Harding, (London: Robson Books, Ltd. 1994), 193. 56 Ibid. 57 Quoted in John Harding, 193. 58 Ibid. 59 E. Cashmore. Black Sportsmen (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1982), 25.
233 Nigerian boxers. Although they knew that the British National Title wa s off limits to them since they were not born on British soil, the British Empire Title, open to any citizen born in the Empire, was now open for Nigerians. It became the goal of all Nigerian boxers who left for Liverpool to pursue a boxing career. By 1950 , the British Empire Boxing Title became more important to British and Empire fighters than the British National Title. Nigerians as Empire Citizens Coming of Sammy Wilde One of the first famous Nigerian boxers to emerge in this time period was Sammy Wilde. While other boxers from Nigeria were present in Britain before Wilde and before the 1948 fall of the colour bar, Wilde was the first to be covered in detail in April 1 948 and he started his professional career with an exceptional win rate winning 11 of his first 12 fights in England. 60 Wilde named himself after British boxer Jimmy Wilde, an homage to the former British world champion whose powerful punches helped him c onquer the flyweight class. Wilde was an internationally well known boxer and made instructional boxing movies which possibly were shown in Nigeria. At the very least, ads with Jimmy Wilde appeared in Lagosian newspapers during the interwar and WWII years. Sammy Wilde was based in Liverpool, and had four of his first five fights at the Stadium. 61 As he defeated British opponent from Liverpool one after the other, a call went out to white fighters in the country to step up for the pride of England that might 60 NDT Sept . 21 , 1949; and The Liverpool Echo July 27, 1949 . 61 Boxing Record Archive: Sammy Wilde, BoxingRec http://boxrec.com/boxer/24221 , 2016.
2 34 stand a chance against him in the ring. In July 1949 to he was set to fight Alby Hollister from London, and the match was listed at the top of the bill at the Stadium, a rare feat for a black fighter. 62 Wilde won this contest handily, and his strength and p unching power, not to mention his stamina, were praised in the newspapers in Liverpool. and other Liverpool promoters to search for talent in West Africa and Nigeria speci fically for more boxers like him. Scotland, and most importantly, in his homeland Nigeria. The Nigerian Daily Times ( NDT ) reported in October 1949 that Wilde was to fight in Lond on at the age of only 22, 63 His victories were closely followed back in Nigeria, like in 1948 when it Liverpool. 64 The NDT reminded readers of the boxer roots by recounting that Wilde tormy encounter [in Lagos] with the 62 The top of the bill meant that this was the headline fight for the promotion, the last fight of the evening and what would be the main draw to attract fans to pay for the fight. When looking at fight bills, their names would be the largest and upfront. It would be assumed by those reading the fight bill that the topliners would be well known or at least a reputation about them would be known. This fight against Hollister, however, was twelve contests was against Billy Coloulias. Personally, I thought that the coloured boxer had won. Wilde ides since he came to this country and The Liverpool Echo, July 27, 1949. 63 NDT Oct . 10, 1949 64 Morecambe is a coastal town located north of Liverpool and close to the English city of Lancashire. NDT Nov . 2 , 1948 .
235 late Billy Petrol l 65 Wilde was also making headlines in English newspapers beyond Liverpool, and these accounts were reprinted in Nigerian papers. In November 1948, the NDT reprinted an article by S.P. Worker from Nort hampton, where Wilde was known 66 It is worth quoting in detail because it shows both the novelty of Nigerian fighters and the racial stereotyping of black fighters in Britain: Sammy Wilde is the name, and he is 160 pounds of Ebony Dynamite who story in itself. For years he worked in the docklands of his native Nigeria tales told by the visiting sailors of the way in which a boxer, black or white, His victory excited the curiosity of the fans, as did the three deep scars upon each cheek which, upon enquiry turned out to be old tribal marks and not the result of boxing. His long reach and height (5 ft. 10 ins) enabled this coloured whirlwind to favour long He is looking farther ahead than most people would imagine. This quiet, well spoken, most unassuming ex do ck hand from Nigeria. His ambition is to be the first 67 For young Nigerians, boxing hopefuls or otherwise, this story about Wilde felt familiar to many Nigerians he was a manual laborer, impressed by the diverse stories heard in a talent in boxing, not skin color, was the determining factor for success. As a dock worker, Liverpool was a similar city with a similar composition of people to Lagos in terms of occupations and classes, and so his story appealed to the people there too. 65 Alternate spellings include Billy Petrolle. Petrolle was the former Nigerian champion during the war years. Ib id. 66 NDT Nov . 25, 1948. 67 Ibid.
236 If boxing was indeed such an avenue for social mobility, Sammy Wilde was hopefully to be as s uccessful as Sammy. 68 As mentioned in Chapter 5 , naming oneself after a famous boxer was the ultimate show of respect, and was one sign of the impact it inspire thos e in Nigeria, as his picture was found on many sports pages in 1949. 69 70 Banasko as the connection between Liverpool and Nigerian boxers by 1949. After hearing of the success of other Empire a vessel d ocked in Lagos in 1949 heading to Liverpool in order to box professionally. 71 After acclimatizing to British weather and food, he took up Peter Banasko as a manager. By the early 1950s, he was making a name for himself on the North East coast of Britain, wi nning 14 straight fights at one point and boxing in the Liverpool Stadium on several occasions. 72 68 NDT Mar . 27, 1950. 69 For example, see NDT Sept . 26, 1949 . 70 NDT Nov . 25, 1948. 71 Rangers Notes Liverpool Echo, Mar ch 12, 1952 . 72 The Stork, Liverpool Echo, Sept . 2, 1950 .
237 crowds with his speed and footwork. 73 defence against the ac 74 Boyle, like Wilde before him, was an came to associate w ith Nigerians . Because of these two, Nigerian boxers were respected and were even in demand with promoters. Furthermore, Boyle helped a number of Nigerians he had boxed with travel to Liverpool through his connection to Banasko, and even hosted many of them personally when they arrived. 75 Boyle was one of the first to find success in th e ring in Liverpool, and was ranked in Ring Magazine during 1951, a feat that was mentioned several times in the Lagosian newspapers, who followed his every fight. It was well known that Banasko was his manager. Although it is assumed that Banasko came int o contact with Farnsworth and Collister while he was a boxer in Liverpool in his youth, it is also reasonable to assume that Banasko came into contact with Farnsworth and Collister through Boyle, who was known to both in Nigeria. son offers insight into how Banasko forged a link between Liverpool and Nigerian identity through boxing. What made Banasko with his boxers to teach them the skills and tr icks of the trade. 76 Banasko did more than simply train and manage the Nigerians that came to Liverpool. He and other managers were responsible financially for them, essentially acting as sponsors for them while they 73 The Stork, Liverpool Echo, Jan . 27, 1951 . 74 Liverpool Echo, Sept . 7, 1951. 75 See Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Boxing. 76 Interview with Peter Banasko Jr., Liverpool, England, June 2014.
238 were in the UK. 77 Before a boxer was sent to Liverpool to Banasko, he had to fund the fare to England, which was out of reach for most of the boxers. Hogan Bassey, like any other boxers, was given the money to travel to Liverpool by local boxing aficionados like Nap Peregrino and Jack Farnsworth, on the condition that if they make it in Liverpool and win some money, they pay back their Nigerian handlers. 78 The boxer also had to later to secure a boxing license through the British Boxing Board of Control. 79 Banasko further had to secure a definitive address for the boxer before Nigerian authorities would grant a passport. 80 Collister mature d and the trust between them grew during their joint efforts to direct all Nigerian boxers towards him, even those presently in Britain. For example, Teddy Odus came to England after 1948, but not to Banasko, and worked in London. Although he was finding s uccess in London, Farnsworth and Collister were concerned that he was not being managed properly and squandering his chance at success. Farnsworth and Collister tried their best to get him gerians to grow. 81 77 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 9 September 1951. Given to Author by Peter Bana sko, Junior. 78 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 9 September 1951. Given to Author by Peter Banasko, Junior. Later, after Bassey began to make a name for himself and won some money, Farnsworth sent a series of angry letters to Banasko complaining that not on ly had Bassey not repaid him for his fare, but had not acknowledged his role either. Peter junior in our interview also remembered that fighters paid half or more of their first purse to Farnsworth for him fronting the ticket to Britain. 79 Ibid. 80 Letter f rom Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 13 September 1951. Given to Author by Peter Banasko, Junior. 81 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 2 October 1951. Given to Author by Peter Banasko, Junior.
239 So sought after was Banasko that his stable of boxers grew to over 25 boxers by 1951, 82 Coast. Thanks to the praises of Collister in his news reports and Farnsworth Nigerian newspapers and through word of mouth in Lagos, managers in the Gold Coast wanted their boxers sent to Banasko as well, since their boxers were/could be mistreated by their managers in Britain Empire Featherweight Title in 1951, there were many in the Gold Coast that were unhappy with the way that his UK manager tre ated and underpaid him. 83 Similarly, word a former boxer and manager in the Gold Coast, that the Ghanaian boxers were left to fend for themselves, which caused managers in the Gold Coast to warily send their fi ghters to the UK for fear of mistreatment. 84 fight game steered many West African fighters his way. One of these fighters became assey from Nigeria. 82 Interview with Peter Banasko , Junior, June 2014, Liverpool, England. 83 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 18 September 1951. Given to Author by Peter Banasko, Junior. For more informant about the impact of Roy Ankrah, see Roy Ankrah, My Life Story (Accra: The West African Graphic, Co., Ltd., 1 Historical Studies 35 (2002): 18 : a sport is taking root (1920 2158. 84 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, 18 September 1951. Given to Author by Peter Banasko, Junior.
240 Hogan Bassey Hogan Bassey, became a household name and national hero to Nigerians through his success as a boxer in Liverpool. Bassey came to Liverpool in 1951 to work with Banasko through the sponsorship of Jack Farnsworth. Bassey had become famous in Lagos after winning the Nigerian Bantamweight Championship against Steve Jeffra in 1950. He solidified his status as a top boxer when he later that year secured the West African Bantamweight Championship by defeating Spider Neeq uayo of the Gold Coast in a highly anticipated fight. 85 Following his win with Spider Neequayo he started to 86 Money was the pressing issue because Bassey could not afford to the passage to Britain, but his connection to Jack Farnsworth and D .J. Collister paid off. Collister vouched for Bassey as a talented boxer, or spectator before his retirement. Farnsworth, convinced that Bassey would make it big in Britain where the competition was stronger and the purses bigger, fronted Bassey the money for his ship ticket, to be repaid once he won some fights. 87 When Bassey a rrived in Liverpool in December 1951 he was met at the Liverpool landing stage by none other than Jack Farnworth (who was at home on leave) and his 85 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 14 1 5 86 Ibid.,15. 87 Letter from Jack Farnsworth to Peter Banasko, dated 13 th Aug 1951 given to author by Peter Banasko Bassey on Boxing , 16.
241 was Peter Banasko, h is new manager. 88 in the newspapers in Liverpool for several weeks, and Bassey and company went straight to the offices of the Liverpool Echo , where he met the boxing columnist Joe f newspaper. 89 Liverpool fans had become accustomed to seeing Nigerian boxers in the ring and knew what to expect if their name was on a fight card: tough, fit, powerful, gentlemen. Bassey mentioned that after he arrived in Liverpool, and was waiting for his boxing license to arrive, he talked and trained with Banasko in order to be fully prepared for his Liverpool debut. Bassey in a s hort time realized the importance of the upcoming 90 a place that he had no doubt heard ab out from Liverpudlian expatriates like Farnsworth and Collister . But the transition to Liverpool boxing was not easy, and Bassey himself found out firsthand that although he was a triple champion in Nigeria: My Nigerian record did not mean anything over [i n England] and I had to start at the bottom of the ladder. I came as an unknown as far as the English boxing followers were concerned. They had never heard of Hogan (Kid) Bassey outside Nigeria, so I was a new boy to them, one who had to stake his claim an d prove his ability there, no matter what his rating in his own country. 91 88 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 18. 89 Ibid. 90 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 20. 91 Ibid , 21.
242 Bassey was an incredible talent, and his victories inspired many young men in Nigeria to take up boxing, or at the very least, to follow his career through the newspapers. 92 picture would feature often in the newspaper, commonly with Banasko by his side or other Nigerian fighters. Bassey, through his victories inside the ring and his gentlemanly demeanor outside the ropes, quickly became one of the most recognizable Nigerians in the world, and certainly its most famous sportsman. By the mid 1950s Bassey had become a household name in Nigeria as well as Liverpool due to the reporting of Douglas J. Collister. Collister had made boxing his life after retiring from the UAC in 1950 . His retirement did not stop his reporting, as he cabled news stories back to Lagos, reporting on Nigerian and other West African fighters, their wins and losses, and how they fared in Liverpool and England. He essentially made sure that Nigerians were up to date on how their local heroes were representing them abroad, while also showcasing these former local stars. These were the only reports in Nigerian newspapers of Nigerians abroad attaining fame and stature. Collister also joined the BBBC as one of th e Stewards in the Northern region, a position he used to make sure that Nigerian and West African boxers were well taken care of. Once the Empire Championships took on a new meaning and were more hotly contested than British Championships, Collister was in strumental in organizing an Empire Boxing Board of Control, which until the1950s was non existent. He then became the steward for West Africa, further ensuring the fair treatment, when possible, of Nigerian boxers. While Banasko might have had the most suc cess in training 92 Ibadan, Nigeria, June 2013 .
243 Nigerians, they would not have found as much success without the careful oversight of Collister . Banasko and Bassey Part Ways Unfortunately for Nigerians, Banasko quit the business in 1955 after a falling out with Hogan Bassey. A few weeks after winning the British Empire Championship in 1955, Hogan Bassey decided to dump Banasko as his manager because he believed that it would not be possible for him to make it to the top of the World Featherweight division with a black manager. As Peter B anasko Junior recalled, Bassey had said that 93 The racism of the era that had prevented Banasko from fighting for a British Championship seemed now to resurge and knock him back a second time. Bassey angered and disappointed Banasko to such a degree that instead of continuing as a boxing manager and trainer, he quit the business entirely. 94 When Banasko left, other white promoters filled the void, men like Buddy Martins of Bi rkenhead who inherited 95 Banasko sold the contract of Bassey, the British Empire Featherweight Champion, to George Biddles for Â£5000. 96 The Nigerian boxers that Banasko shaped, through the assistance of Farnsworth and Collister , hel ped to make a name for Nigeria. As racial myths transformed, so did 93 Interview with Peter Banasko, Junior, Liverpool, England June 9 th 2014. 94 Ibid . 95 Birkenhead is located on the west side of the Mersey River that separates it from Liverpool. 96 Â£5 000 in 1955 is the equivalent to roughly Â£ 294,000 in 2015. Biddles was his manager when he won the world title in 1957. https://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/relativevalue.php
244 . T hey were not a large number in Liverpool as a whole , never more than several dozen at a time from Nigeria. However, Nigerian boxers were well known entities in the city. Hogan Bassey was described in 1951 as considered a temporary home for him ; it was expected that he would return to Nigeria after his fighting career ended. Significantly, b y 1956, and on th e verge of winning the World Featherweight Championship, Bassey was described as a Liverpudlian a native of Liverpool he can almost be called a Liverpudlian , for he has lived here for almost fo ur years and married a Liverpool girl. One thing is certain , Bassey will not let us down for both inside and outside the ring he is a perfect gentleman. 97 Bassey would later win the Empire and World championships in the Featherweight division in 1955 and 1 957 respectively , an accomplishment that, along with his proper attitude and gentlemanly character, had newspapers in Liverpool proclaim h im to be a native and not just domiciled there. The Nigerian boxers, Hogan Bassey and Dick Tiger among the m , had a profound impact on Liverpool . In fact, the music scene reflected and enhanced their fame and that of Nigeria across the Empire . These boxers were regulars at the ba rs and music dens . Their popularity and fame from winning Empire and World Championships, had an impact on several musicians from the Empire present in Liverpool . For example, Lord Kitchener, a West Indies Calypso singer, was living in Liverpool in the 1950s and wrote two songs, 97 Liverpool Echo , Mar . 24, 1956. Emphasis added.
245 these was recorded with the accompaniment of the West African Rhythm Brothers and became popular Liverpool songs . 98 Moreover, several key musicians that grew up playing in the taverns of Liverpo ol became major players in their countries, like Fela Kuti of Nigeria, and also a major influence on the Beatles as they were emerging in 1960s Liverpool . It was the physical experiences of racism and success of those within the Black Atlantic that fueled the intellectual fire. The successes of these boxers internationally and on an Empire and later World stage also fueled the imagination of the modern Nig erian within the Black Atlantic. 98 Both can be listened to here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPo ok9O9XI
246 CHAPTER 7 ITIMACY OF BOXING from At a boxing promotion in June of 1953, lightweight Dapo knocked out by his opponent Eddie Phillips in the 4 th round of an eight round fight. Ilori , as seen in Figure 7.1 had to be helped out of the ring and later complained of feeling 1 of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBBC) , where he died of his injuries at 3:30 am. 2 This made the front pag e s out and dazed Ilori on the canvas wi (Figure 7 2). 3 The headline in the West African Pilot 4 To make matters worse, a nother match occurred on the very same fight card between Salau Chiko and Billy Armstrong for the Nigerian Featherweight Title that had a similar outcome eyes, t ook a barrage of punishment from Chiko (Figure 7 3) in the 10th round, and was knocked out unconscious for the ten count , as captured in the picture printed the next day by the Nigerian Daily Times ( NDT ) (Figure 7 4 and Figure 7 5) . Armstrong 1 " Billy Armstrong Still Lying in Hospital" WAP July 1 , 1953; and NDT July 1 , 1953. The picture of Ilori knocked out made the front page of the paper. 2 NDT July 1 , 1953 . 3 Ibid. 4 WAP July 1, 1953.
247 remained unco nscious for 5 days in a coma in the General Hospital. 5 Despite these two bad outcomes, the newspapers reported these fights as being full cheering crowd with fast and furious punching, and some of the best boxing seen in Lagos for quite some time. 6 The fact that the fans enjoyed such carnage was an alarming development for certain Lagosians who had always viewed boxing with reservations . Eddie Phillips, the boxer who knocked out Ilori, who was only 19 at the time, decided to retire; he s tat ed 7 He eventually return ed to the ring and fought again . B ut the boxing fraternity wa s visibly shaken by Armstrong an enlight ened Nigeria ensued. The debate over boxing started shortly after the death of Ilori. Bishop S.C. Phillips, known locally in Lagos as social justice issues and the fact that he himself was a former boxer, wrote several articles deploring boxing and calling for its nationwide ban in Nigeria. 8 Although the 5 NDT June 30 , 1953 . 6 " Billy Armstrong Still Lying in Hospital" WAP July 1 , 1953; NDT June 30 , 1953 . Chiko had long been considered a lazy fighter but with powerful punches. The press also described him as not being scientific enough in his boxing, but he was a crowd pleaser based on his ability to score knockouts. The love/hate relationship the press had for him is best described by a quote in the NDT 7 NDT July 1 , 1953. 8 Bishop Philips's critiques were common in Lagosian newspapers after WWII when he condemned to what he saw as evils to na tional progress. For example, Bishop S.C. Phillips , "Drinking and Smoking" NDT July 23 , 1947. Drinking and smoki ng "will prove the greatest indirect obstacle to our national progress so dear to the heart of many in Nigeria of to day." "Intoxicants and Cigarettes have now taken the lead among the most modern luxuries which are proving most injurious to our immediate and future progress. "
248 Bishop himself was a former boxer, he saw the death of Ilori as the final straw a nd what should be the final nail in the coffin for boxing. According to Bishop, boxing was carnage, it was uncivilized, and made for poor citizens when Nigerians needed to become more civilized on its path towards self government and eventual independence . Boxing in his mind was related to death, and potentially the death of the nation if allowed to continue. He wanted to know: Did Nigeria want to be known as a blood thirsty, savage nation in the eyes of the rest of the world? 9 A few days later, Horatio Age dah a former school boy boxer in Lagos and later wrote several articles in 10 He set out to prove that boxing was in fact doing great wo rk in the community and the country at large by making boys into strong men and thus proper citizens during the changing and difficult times of post WWII Nig eria. Unlike the Bishop, Agedah believed that boxing taught lessons in character, sportsmanship, an d discipline that the regular curriculum in schools were unable to provide. Moreover, the prestige of Nigerians boxing internationally in Britain served to place Nigeria on the map at a time when Nigeria was a little known British colony on the internation al radar . The debate between the Bishop and Agedah and the larger d ebates about the fate of boxing revolved around three social and political concerns about cultivating men, making/educating Nigerian citizens, and presenting their country in the internatio nal 9 Bishop SC Phillips, M.A , NDT Oct . 29 , 1953. 10 TKO is a boxing acronym for Technical Knock Out, the form of victory when the referee stops the bout before a boxer is actually knocked out for the 10 count . Kabir Alabi Garba , Times With Career, Trad Nigerian Guardian Augu st 3 , 2002.
249 eye. When read contextually, the boxing debate was in part a response to larger social issues: The Kano Riots in 1953, the breakdown of the 1950 MacPherson Constitution, and the improper education of young boys who will one day fail as citizens or men. With this in mind, this chapter will analyze the intersection between sports and the challenges in creating a nation in the international arena. More specifically, it suggests that the debate about the legitimacy of boxing reflected Niger anxiety about, shaping an ideal nation and ideal masculine citizens as it prepared for first self government and later full independence. T he 1950 MacPherson Constitution (MC) expanded the electorate while also splitting the central government of Nigeria into three regions: Western, Eastern, and Northern, with Lagos as Federal Territory. 11 The MC also created a central legislature and a House of Representatives, with fifty percent of the seats allocate d to the Northern Region, and twenty five percent of the seats to the Western and Eastern Regions respectively. As Odumosu argues, such a breakdown of seats meant that the Northern Region was in a position to dominate politics at the center, a problem whic h caused tension and conflict on several occasions. 12 However, the MC proved to be unworkable along 11 See Oluwole Idowu Odumosu , The Nigerian Constitution: History and Development ( London: Sweet & Maxwell , 1963); and Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton, A history of Nigeria ( Cambri dge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 12 See Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , especially C hapter 4 .
250 ethno linguistic lines. 13 The result was three political parties, representing three large ethnic/language groups, dominating three separate regions. 14 As Douglas Anthony has regionalization of politics from the MC pit the three regions against one another, which would eventually deteriorate into a civil war in 1967. 15 Before then , this regionalization of politics created by the MC came to a head in 1953 when the discussion over a timetable for self government boiled over into ethnic conflict. What started the demise Government in 16 This was not the first time that self government had been mentioned. Starting in 1951, the NCNC and the AG continually pushed the colonial government for Nigerian self government in the regional assemblies. As Odumosu argues, these calls eventually crippled the MC when events at the Central Government devolved into violence in Kano in 1953 . 17 While both the NCNC and the AG agreed and demanded self government by 1956 at the latest, the NPC was not onboard with the 1956 proclamation. For the NPC and its leader, the Sar dauna of Sokoto, which saw the Northern Region as less 13 Falola and Heaton, A history of Nigeria , 153. 14 The Western Region was dominated by the Action Group (hereafter AG) composed of primarily Yorubas; the Eastern Region was dominated by the National Council of Ni geria and the Cameroons (NCNC) composed of primarily of Igbos; and the Northern Region was dominated by the National 15 Douglas Anthony, Poison and Medicine , 48. For more information on, and di scussions about, the ethnic causes of the Biafran secession, see Chima Korieh, The Nigeria Biafra War: genocide and the politics of memory ( Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2012); G. N. Uzoigwe, Visions of nationhood: prelude to the Nigerian Civil War ( Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2011); Chinua Achebe, There was a country: a personal history of Biafra (New York: Penguin Press, 2012). 16 NDT April 1, 1953 ; Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , 88. 17 Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , 82 92; Falola and Heaton, A history of Nigeria, 152 154.
251 technical, educated, and less politically prepared for self government by 1956, 18 What ensued in the colony following this discrepancy was a political debate that devolved into mistrust and violence and ultimately shattered the MC and placed stress on the idea of national unity. 19 As Sir John MacPherson, the Governor of the Colony and author of the MC , the blow that has been dealt to the 20 With its fifty percent seat allocation, the fear of many in the central legislature was that the Northern representatives would outright defeat the motion for self government. When this actually happened, the AG and NCNC promptly walked out of the Chamber in protest. For their part, the Northern representatives refusal to back self government were booed and jeered at by Lagosians outside the legislature and in the street, comi ng close to violence as only the presence of police stopped the crowds from rioting then and there . 21 to not back the motion for self 18 Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , Rule in 1956 Says NDT April 1, 1953. The Northern response was to wait longer so that the Northern region had the time to industriali ze and add educational infrastructure, otherwise it would continue to be at a disadvantage nationally for jobs in the civil service to the other regions. Also, the Sardauna argued that until the masses were educated in politics, their will could not be gau ged, and self government would not NDT May 26, 1953. 19 The newspapers were flooded with testimony from the various parties involved over their ideas of unity and ways to achieve it. For example, see Jaja Anucha Wachuku, a Member of the House of Representatives for the National Independence Party, who gave his testimony of the proceedings and the NDT April 24, 1953. 20 NDT April 2, 1953. 21 NDT April 2, 19 53.
252 government was lambasted in the local and national newspapers, a move that enraged northern ers and sent fierce critiques through the newspapers. 22 As Odumosu argues, the motion for self government of the regions was a convenient way for Nigerian politicians to vent their frustrations over the MacPherson Constitution, the workings of the governme nt, the presence and rule of the British, and the slow pace of independence. 23 They did not, however, fully appreciate the scale of distrust between the regions, and the ensuing violence and riot in Kano took the country, the British, and the international community by surprise and placed Nigeria in the international limelight for the wrong reasons. The Kano Riot In May of 1953, a riot in Kano erupted when Northerners , mainly Hausas and Fulani, attacked southern Igbos and Yorubas in an event that lasted four days, killing at least 43 and injuring more than 200 people. 24 While tensions between the regional and political groups had been steadily smoldering , the match that lit the fire here first sparked when a group of AG representative s, headed by S.L. Akintola, the deputy leader of the AG, scheduled a tour of the Northern Region to promote the motion for self government that was abandoned by the NPC . Their presence angered northerners in Kano who took to the streets in Sabon Gari, the residential area of Kano allocated for non northerners. This protest eventually boiled over and led to a wave of violence, 22 Odumosu, The Nigerian Cons titution , 88. Also see NDT April 6, 1953. 23 Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , 88 9. 24 NDT June 1, 1953 . The Action Group (AG) was the political party of Western Nigeria under the leadership of Awolowo.
253 looting, and death that lasted several days and made international headlines. 25 As historians have shown, long standing tension betwee n the three groups, especially focused around education and economic opportunity, religion, and culture, lay at the heart of this outbreak of violence. 26 A major reason for such tension lay in the rapid influx of foreigners in the Northern Region, primarily Igbos but also Yorubas. For example, the Igbo population in Northern Nigeria grew from roughly 12,000 in 1931 to over 125,000 in 1953, the year of the Kano Riot. 27 than others in Nigeria because of their quick adoption of Western customs and education, were, as van den Berselaar has noted, more willing to engage in the colonial economy and migrated rather early to the mines, railroa ds , and cities for a whole host of social, cultural, and economic reasons. 28 One such urban a rea was Kano , that grew as an urban area thanks in part to being the site of a railroad terminus in 1912 . The number of Igbo migrants to urban centers was in fact quite large, making up between forty and fifty five percent of urban populations in Nigeria b y the 1950s. 29 They tended 25 Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution , 88. For more information on the history of the Sabon Gari system, and how that system bred suspicion and distrust between ethnic groups in the North, see A. F. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 5. 10 ( October 2015 ): 164 169. 26 Paul Anber, The Journal of Modern African Studies 5. 2 (1967 ): 163 79. Also see Douglas Anthony , Poison and Medicine , and Leonard The Journal of Modern African Studies , 9. 2 (1971), 297 305. 27 Dmitri van den Bersselaa r , The Journal of African History , 46. 1 (2005) , 58. 28 holds sway in Nigeria, espe cially among Nigerian scholars, since it was formulated in the 1960s in Dmitri van den Bersselaar , The Journal of African History , 46. 1 (2005) , 55. 29 Ibid, 58.
254 to be overrepresented in occupations like the Civil Service, and since many traveled outside of the east ern region and took up important positions within the colonial apparatus, they came to be seen as outsiders and unwelcomed in the north. 30 Their elevated positions along with their status as outsiders and foreigners contributed to growing tensions between Northerners and others that eventually escalated towards the riot. This was not the first attack against Easterners in the Nort h of Nigeria , as a similar riot occurred in Jos in 1945. 31 I t was, however, the first to be broadcasted worldwide , bringing negative publicity to the colony. The Kano Riots of 1953 have been previously seen by historians as little more than a precursor to the fall of the MacPherson Constitution and the eventual riots in the North that led to Biafran secession in 1966/7. 32 , as and the lack of central unit y quickly 33 Lagosian newspapers were filled with reports of by our people , which they decried as unbecoming of a nation that was on the path 30 ns of Colonial Settlements 165. 31 Although not widely reported, an incident occurred in Jos in 1945 that lasted for 2 days. Surprisingly, Leonard 32 An example of this can be seen in Anthony, Poison and medicine . Although Anthony discusses the importance of the riot in historical context, it is clear that his discussion links the historical roots of the 1966 riots and the role that 1953 played in a line of distrust and ethnic conflict. Also see Okwudiba Nnoli, Ethn ic politics in Nigeria ( Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publishers , 1980) . Also, A. F. Usman, 33 John White , NDT May 16, 1953.
255 towards 34 Confirming this, when word of the attacks reached Britain and the United States, several newspapers there reported that this lawless behavior could journey to self rule 35 The article Do Not Advance Self R full in the Nigerian Daily Times ; the article worried misunderstanding have co 36 A New York Times not ready for self 37 Locally, the Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Region, Sir Bryan Sharwoo d Smith, himself echoed these international sentiments. In his radio broadcast shortly after the riot, he said that the violence and a few hours bring back the clock of 38 was possible to destroy months of progress and the good name of the Region by 39 Indeed, Chief H.O. Davies reported that Nigeria was in need of unity first and self government once that was achieved in order to guarantee that such violence did not occur again. 40 For the British, it demonstrated that changes to 34 NDT June 1, 1953; ik and Akintola Abandon North Tour, NDT May 18, 1953; NDT May 18, 1953 ; NDT May 20, 1953 ; NDT 21 May 1953; Dr NDT 25 May 1953 . 35 NDT May 20 , 1953. 36 NDT May 20, 1953. 37 NDT May 23, 1953. 38 NDT May 20 , 1953. 39 NDT May 19, 1953. 40 Chief HO Davies , NDT May 25, 1953.
256 the governing of Nigeria were necessary to prevent future such outbreaks of violence along tribal, ethnic, and/or region toward self rule. At the same time, it was also proof that more time was needed before Nigeria was indeed ready for self government since national unity was not forthcoming despite the increased poli tical activity of Nigerians thanks to the MC . The violence of the riot prompted the British government to quickly disband the MacPherson Constitution (MC) of 1950 , and denounce it as unworkable . 41 In short, the British felt the MC was not in the best inter est of the colony as the close interaction between regions at the central government was a primary cause of the violence. Furthermore, the local press was partly to blame, thought former governor Sir John 42 MacPherson was the Governor of Nigeria from 1948 to 1955 and was an avid sportsman who was heralded as one of the driving forces of the expansion of sport in the colony. Many of his speeches c ontained sporting euphuisms, especially when discussing the political situation in the colony. He felt that Nigerians needed to learn the lessons of sport (team work, sportsmanship, courage, and discipline) if the country was to come together despite their regional and ethnic differences. He was known to attend several sporting functions on a weekly basis. To MacPherson, the regional disparities became , and 41 Only a few days after the attack did Secretary of the State for the Colonies Oliver Lyttleton call a conference of Nigerian leaders to London. ND T 22 May 1953 detailed description of the MacPherson Constitution and the subsequent constitutional crisis, see Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution . 42 NDT May 21, 1953.
257 43 The solution was teamwork and sportsmanship to promote national unity, as h e declared right up to his farewell address in 1955. 44 In deciding to disband the MC , British officials clearly articulated their fears that Nigerians were too violent and uncivilized, and thus not ready for self government until some kind of national poli tical unity could be achieved . Several months later, the British Colonial Office invited Nigerian leaders to conferences in London and later in Lagos to determine the proper way to govern and unite a country divided on ethnic, regional, and religious lines by drafting a new constitution . 45 The solution was referred to as the Lyttleton Constitution , named after Oliver Lyttleton, then Secretary of the State of the Colonies, which decentered politics towards the three regions, as shown in Figure 7 6 . This chain of events , however, created anxiety on every level of society . In particular, it motivat ed people to scrutinize sports such as boxing that might jeopardize the national character and international recognition of the emerging nation and the reputation of i ts citizens. The Debate over Boxing Shortly after the violence of the Kano Riots and subsequent disbanding of the MC, the death of Homicide Ilori catapulted Nigerian boxing into the spotlight. Boxing thereafter became entangled in a debate over the shape of an emerging national character, the readiness of Nigeria for self rule, the education of youth, and the proper 43 Ibid . 44 NDT June 10, 1955 . 45 see Odumosu, The Nigerian Constitution .
258 way to shape boys and young men into useful citizens. This debate took place primarily in the Lagosian newspapers, highlighted by the writings of well known local persons, former boxer Bishop S.C. Phillips and newspaper reporter Horatio Agedah. By looking at the debate in terms of national character, international reputation, and masculinity, we can see the reaction to, and anxiety about , import ant changes like the expansion of politics occurring at the local, regional, and national levels. The rhetoric of the discussion reflected the apprehension many Nigerians felt over nationalism, manhood, Figure 7 1 . Picture of then Rev. S.C. Phillips, soon to be Bishop Phillips of Lagos. His commentary on social evils were commonplace in Lagosian newspapers in the 1940s and early 1950s. DS September 20, 1945. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
259 U nd er D ebate National Character The Kano Riots and demise of the Constitution prompted many to search for re assurance that their nation and its character was progressing as it should and that it was strong enough to enter the international arena . In connection with this, sports emerged as one aspect that could boost , or erode, national confidence. For example, the Bishop stated in which the public attend ed in large crow ds a nd supported in the physical education in schools for its good social effects. 46 Like many, healthy forms of amusements now being spread over the country [which] are a sign of 47 For the Bishop, sport was necessary for it filled by, one of the main causes of mischief making to both old and young was the difficulty of finding interesting amusements to occ upy leisure hours; yet it is one of the great truths of life that Satan fin ds some mischief still for idle han ds 48 Sport had its good uses, and when the proper or right sport was emphasized, the desired traits could be instilled in youth, like disci pline, sportsm . However, b oxing , at least to the Bishop , was not a proper or right sport to achieve the desired characteristics in young men . The Bishop wished to replace boxing with Nigerian wrestling, which would better craft future citizens and proper men. Unlike boxing, wrestling was not a European 46 Bishop SC Phillips, M.A. NDT Oct 29 , 1953. 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid.
260 import, but an indigenous sport that had trained Nigerian men for centuries. As Bishop r eason why, contrary to our custom, such serious fights are being regularly staged in public is that the custom came from parts of the world whose so called civilized custom 49 The Bishop saw boxing as another example of cultural imperialism that was not only unnecessary , but dangerous to the moral fabric of the up and coming nation because of its penchant for violence and unrestraint. It was not part of the civilizing package that Nigerians should be aspiring towards nor accepting . Echoing the Bishop, C.A. Afodu wrote to the Daily Service arguing that boxing ds . this enlightened and Christian age, we can still afford to tolerate gladiators in our m i ds 50 He asked if Nigerians were any better than the spectators at the gladiatorial competitions of ancient Rome, comparing Nigerian boxers to Roman gladiators in terms of brutality and lack of battered body is not a sight for Christian educated people. Brutes fight in such a way and are we 51 Nigeria in this case needed civilization and religious enlightenment, and boxing did not bring either, nor did it provide the path f or such progress. Boxing was a throwback to an uncivilized past, where money and brutality 49 DS Oct . 28 , 1953. 50 C.A. Afodu , DS Nov 4 1953 . Afodu That Phillips had not written for a long time but now found time to rail against boxing and Afodu agrees. 51 Ibid.
261 were praised. 52 The young men in Nigeria entering boxing did so for the wrong reasons, not to learn skills and manly traits, but for money and fame. Afodu elaborated on this, writing that prize money on each fight. Money on boxing is blood money. Scrap boxing 53 Again, the Christian appeal emerges with the reference to blood money. Moreover, this was not the n ational image Nigeria wanted to project to the world nor cultivate at home. 54 Afodu argued that since man was men then batter God? Was this enlightened Christian behavior for a nation pursuing its independence ? 55 In contrast, Horatio Agedah argued it was not the punishment that the fan or critic should focus on ; rather, the way boxing crafted qualities desired in men, making them better future citizens and displaying true national character . Moreover, many citizens were needed for the good of the country as it marched towards in dependence. Nnamdi Azikiwe, leader of the NCNC party, made numerous speeches extolling the values of sportsmanship and the importance of sportsmanship to the body politic. 56 comments, argue d H fruitful source of healthy national manhood, courageous and disciplined youth, [and] 52 Ibid . Many people do not like the way two people are being matched against themselves to be battered as if they we in a battle, but such people lack the courage to come out and express their opinion against 53 Ibid. 54 In a similar vein, J.R. Oliver said in the NDT , "Bloodlust, to see men fight like tig ers, seems to be what the boxing public want for their money. What is being sown to day will most certainly be reaped in the J.R. Oliver , N DT Nov . 11 , 1953 . Oliver praises Phillips and the NDT for printing the article. "The 'great sport' is inevitably degraded as soon as money enters into it, and it becomes 'professional' with all the hangers on who want their pickings." 55 C.A. Afodu , N DS Nov 4 1953 . 56 See Nnamdi Azikiwe, My Odyessy .
262 i importance of boxing to manhood, and manhood to national character. Boxing, for Agedah, was indeed civilized and instilled qualities in young men necessary for this generation to uplift Nigeria to international standard s . Moreover, b oxing was bringing Nigeria international fam e and praise at a time when the disaster of the Kano Riot was fresh in international minds. International Reputation worth of work with youth and attempts to bring international pres tige to Nigeria. Agedah wanted all to know that pinnacle of Empire and World Championships (which he later did in 1955 and 1957, respectively) and their impact for Nigeria internati onally was not worth compromising. As Jaja Anucha Wachuku, a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives, noted puny, tiny, small countries that are not able to stand their gr ound in the comity of 57 In this time of nationalism, the reputation and prestige of Nigeria on the international stage grew in importance, and one way to display that was through international sporting success. As Brian Stoddart argues: One immedi ate problem for the imperial power was that, having encour aged the measurement of social progress by c omparing colonial against Brit ish achievements in sport, there would always come the day of a colonial victory that might be interpreted as symbolic of general parity. 58 57 NDT 24 April 1953. 58 Comparative Studies in Society and History , 30. 4 (Oct., 1988) , 667 .
263 As shown in Chapter 8 , boxing success internationally was interpreted as readiness for international parity with the United Kingdom. In 1953 boxing, and to a lesser extent the Olympic Games, were one of the few international spo rting arenas where colonies could test their strength and vitality against other colonies, the white Dominions, and the British themselves . Boxing success was the only international sporting arena for Nigerians to showcase the colony. The importance of Bas sey and other boxers in the march to independence will be discussed in detail in Chapter 8 . 1953 was front page news, right beside the problems associated with the MC, as seen in Figure 7 7. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Nigeria was making a positive name for itself internationally because of boxing, similarly to other up and coming nations during this time period, which had an incredible effect on nationalism . Boxing was becoming a popular sport, so much so that Nigeria became synonymous with fighters like Hogan Bassey, Sandy Manuel, and Israel Boyle in British and European circles . This, however, prompted some to question why Nigerians were not instead regar ded for their growing number of intellectuals in the UK and USA. Although boxers had gone to the UK and made a lot of money, Mr. I.A. Oni responded in kind with the Bishop: medicine, law, engineer precious teeth, dislocatin g jaws, and punching noses flat 59 This demonstrates that some Nigerians, especially following the Kano Riots, did not wish 59 I.A. Oni , NDT Nov . 11 , 1953. Oni said praises of the bishop for his condemning of boxing.
264 their nation to gain a reputation f or violent acts only . Oni was mortified that people want to see men holler and cheer for blood . As Oni explained, should be u 60 for violence and sport, and not for the thousan ds of students and professionals that had migrated internationally , showing the world the standard of intelligence of the nation. In response to Oni, Charles Major, himself a boxer, wrote to the Nigerian Daily Times explaining that banning boxing would sacrifice the great work done by Nigerians internationally boxing 61 For Major, boxers at home and abroad were doing good work and they should be rightly seen as heroes for those in Nigeria to respect and emulate . He echoed the wor ds of others, like Douglas J. Collister , the first chairman of the N igerian B oxing B oard of C ontrol , who said that Bassey was the best ambassador for the up and coming country of Nigeria based on his gentlemanly demeanor, his discipline, and his fame. 62 Moreover, in 1957 when Bassey was contesting the World Championship, he was recognized 60 Ibid. 61 Charles Major (boxer) , NDT Nov . 5 , 1953. 62 For e NDT Sept . 3 , 1955. The praises of Bassey was a regular occurrence in Collister NDT , WAP , and DS from early 1953 until his retirement from boxing in 1959. For more information about the role of Deejaysee in Nigeria, see Chapter Five .
265 Mbu, Collister , Obafemi Awolowo, and Nnamdi Azikiwe (to name a few). As the WAP politicians, Bassey has done m 63 Despite the work done politically by Nigerians, it was through sport that Nigerians, and especially Hogan Bassey, were making their biggest strides for Nigerian international recognition. The discipline that boxing provided was essential for Nigerians. Concluding his British Nation, the police, most 64 In other wor ds , if Nigeria was to be elevated towards independence (which was granted in 1960) , then boxing was an excellent way to achieve the necessary national character . The nation and specifically its men were lacking, as described in Chapter 3 , discipline, energy, leadership, cour age, and teamwork, making boxing a necessary tool for national solidarity, manhood, and citizenship . This moment in 1953 was important because the specter of independence was finally on the horizon, and the question s of manhood and citizenship were clearly on the forefront. Masculinity and Education of Youths To create a proper nation that was respected internationally, its inhabitants, and particularly its men, must be shaped into model citizens. This perception prompted articularly the effects of contemporary urbanization and mal education on them. Judging by the newspaper reports, the state of youth, and 63 WAP June 24 , 1957 . position that had him placed in the UK to promote and represent Nigeria on important matters. 64 DS Nov. 19, 1953.
266 concern to Lagosians. They lacked th e discipline and sportsmanship necessary to guide their nation towards independence. Although boxing was touted as a remedy for this, the Bishop and many others felt differently. The rhetoric highlights the anxiety of elite Nigerians for the future leaders of the nation, specifically what kind of men they would be and what kind of nation these new types of urban men could create. For the Bishop, boxing did not create proper men. Although sports filled leisure and idle time and ensured that youths stayed out of trouble, boxing taught the wrong skills to Nigerian youth . Like bull fighting and gladiatorial contests, some sports like 65 If Nigerians were to be taught moral values in order to become moral citizens, boxing was not the sport to do it. Boxing taught nothing but fighting skills, an d did not morally shape youth. Boxing , the Bishop believed, was part of a larger problem with the kin ds of entertainment that attracted youth and young men after WWII. As mentioned in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 , the increased consumption of cowboy and mafia m ovies in Nigeria became, in the eyes of many, a bad influence on youth that was linked to violent sports. The Bishop wrote that regularly committed in Nigeria these days one begins to wonder if exhib ition of violence 66 Like debates over video game violence in our own time, the exhibition of movies like cowboy or mafia 65 Bishop SC Phillips, M.A , NDT Oct . 29 , 1953. 66 Ibid .
267 films in the 1950s that celebrated violence was seen by many to h ave an adverse effect on the min ds of young men. 67 the exciting cinema films so regularly patronized by many in these days [are] getting [the] ordinary man accustomed brutalizing effect of 68 In his eyes, boxing burglar, who is usually ready to take the greatest risk t o his life and limb just because he expects a haul of some thousan ds of poun ds from some well guarded bank. The love of 69 It made young men blood thirsty, barbaric, and thieves, and certainly The moral base for youth should not be centered on a violent sporting and cinema culture, all of which were moreover foreign imports and non indigenous. At a time when Nigeria was carving out its own i mage and personae in the international arena, calls in the were circulating. Horatio Agedah, however, defended the noble art of boxing and its positive relationship to masc ulinity . He st at ed survived as the king of sport not because it offers chances of quick money, as the Bishop erroneously believes, but because of the valuable physical and moral benefits that are derivable from active 67 DS Oct 28 , 1953. 68 Bishop SC Phillips, M.A , NDT Oct . 29 , 1953. 69 DS Oct 28 , 1953.
268 participation in the 70 The amateur boxer was not tainted by money but f ought for the glory and love of the game, for exercise, for discipline, and lastly for fun. 71 Boxing, dangerous sport but it is a game of skill outstanding from the point of view of its value as physical training , and in addition calling for manly qualities of self discipline, courage 72 In this light, the boxer learned discipline and respect and co uld not just do what he wanted in the ring or society at large ; he nee d ed to follow rules, especially those of the referee or the police. In the aftermath of the Kano Riots of 1953, blamed partially on the excitability of the mob and inflamed passions of the people, boxing with its emphasis on disciplin e and self control was seen by some as a possible solution to this quandary, not the cause . 73 Soon, t 450 kilometers from Lagos near the Niger Delta, where Austin Drape wrote to the Daily Service means of develo ping young boys, since the boxing gloves protected them from the damaging blows. It was not that boxers struck from a place of anger, but from a place of skill and love of the sport. youngsters to control their cruder passions, to learn to give and take, to win and lose 70 Horatio Agedah , DS Nov . 3 , 1953 . 71 Ibid. 72 Ibid. Emphasis Added. 73 NDT May 21, 1953.
269 sportingly. The boxer who cannot discipline himself gets 74 Boxers like Hogan Bassey showed how discipline and not murderous rage ha d propelled him to the highest levels of the sport and international acclaim . The discipline that it provided was essential for Nigerians, not just the youth, but for all. If Nigeria was to be elevated towards the British in terms of civilization, boxing was an excellent way to achieve this, sinc e be the backbone of the British Nation, the police, most Clubs 75 The Bishop himself was a former boxer, reminded several writers, who had found usefulness in the sport that shaped him as well in to a productive man. Boxers were not the criminals portrayed by the Bishop ; exceptionally modest, well 76 It was for these reasons that boxing should be encouraged and promoted, especially in schools. 77 Agedah claimed it was because boxing was an excellent teacher both morally and physically: Boxing was a test of skill, courage, and endurance, and in the ethos of British sport, made young boys into men and prepared them for a life of leadership , as discu ssed in Chapter 2 . deprive our country of a most fruitful source of healthy national manhood, courageous 78 boxing to be banned would unravel decades of development with youth and attempts to 74 DS Nov 19 , 1953. 75 Ibid. 76 Horatio Agedah , DS Nov . 3 , 1953 . 77 Ibid. 78 Ibid.
270 bring international prestige to Nigeria, similar to how Sir Bryan described the Kano Riots as setting Nigeria back several years. The fact that Nigerian boxers like Hogan Bassey were a bout to reach the pinnacle of Empire and World Championships was not worth compromising. Boxing was a skilled endeavor for mind and body. The voices depicted in the newspapers of the time clearly enunciated their aim to fashion the young men of Nigeria int o leaders that could proudly stand alongside those from Great Britain and the other prestigious nations of the world. For many, boxing was an important means by which to attain their goal. One of the last articles, written by a man named Olufunmi, suggested that if Bishop could no longer count himself a supporter of boxing, he should leave the sport But to retire and carry away with him the entire boxing ring 79 The articles and perceptions analyzed in this chapter indicated that for many Nigerians, boxing came to represent a gauge, for better or for worse, by which to measure the development of the nation, its international reputation , and its masculine citizens. Reflecting the intersection between sports, politics, and society, the debate that took place around boxing in the mid twentieth , both within their community and on the intern ational stage. The Bishop did not get his wish, and boxing continued. 79 Olufunmi , DS Nov 13 , 1953.
271 Figure 7 2 . Picture of Homicide Ilori. NDT May 20 , 1953 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 7 3 . Front Page photograph of Hoicide Ilori in the NDT after being knock out by Eddie Phillips in the 4 th round of their fight. Ilori was taken to the hospital after the fight, where he died overnight. NDT July 1 1953 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
272 Figure 7 4 . Picture of Salau Chiko, Nigerian Daily Times Jan 10 1953. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 7 5 . tenth round of his featherweight championship match with Salau Chiko at Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos. NDT 1 July 1953. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
273 Figure 7 6 . the han ds of Salau Chiko in the tenth round of their Featherweight Championship Fight. NDT July 1 1953. Courtesy o f the Nigerian National Archives.
274 Figure 7 7 . NDT headline of the new Lyttleton Constitution which took effect Oct 1 st 1954. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
275 Figure 7 8 . Picture of Front Page news that Hogan Bassey and Israel Boyle arrived . They where they were met by a large crowd of boxing fans, promoters, friends, and relatives. A trend that will become more common in following years, news of Bassey was frequently found on the front pages of the newspaper alongside national news. NDT 23 April 1953. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
276 CHAPTER 8 ASCENSION TO WORLD CHAMPION CHANGED MASCULINITY, NATIONALISM, AND NIGERIA On 25 th Cherif Hamia for the World Featherweight Title in Paris, France. Hamia was favored to win the fight, and in the second round it looked like this would be the case as Hamia the compulsory count of eight. 1 Bassey recovered, and he used his stamina and patience to wear down Hamia over the next few rounds. The strategy worked, because in the eighth round B assey shook Hamia with a staggering left hook, which sent Hamia into the ropes dazed and knocked out on his feet. Bassey continued to hammer into him until the referee, seeing that Hamia was stunned and defenseless, stepped in and stopped the fight. Bassey was now the World Champion. As Bassey wrote in his 2 He was mobbed in the ring by fans, including famous politicians, b oth Nigerian and Liverpudlian, like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Bessie Braddock of Liverpool. 3 Bassey recalled that 1 Hogan Bassey, Bassey on Boxing ( Ibadan: T. Nelson, 1963 ) , 59 60. 2 Ibid., 62. 3 Nnamdi Azikiwe was the leader of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), Obafemi Awolowo was the leader of the Nigerian political party the Action Group (AG), and Bessie Braddock was a Liberal Member of British Parliament for Liverpool and close friend of Hogan Bassey. She claimed to have seen all his fights. She was also the patron of the Professional Boxers Association in Liverpool and their gym on Parliament Street.
277 say, from Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo, who 4 Bassey was heralded as a national hero, a gentleman, a sportsman, and his victory signaled the proof that Nigeria had arrived on the world stage, equal to other established nations. 5 As Nnamdi Azikiwe said years later, Bassey 6 This chapter traces his ascension to the top of the boxing world in 1957 and . To understand the importance of this moment in Nigerian h istory, however, we must take a step back and put the victory into context. As discussed in Chapter 7 , boxing was on the brink of being banned in 1953 boxing in an enlight ened Nigeria. Yet, when Bassey won the British Empire Featherweight Title just two years later in 1955, a couple years before he claimed the world featherweight title , it became clear that boxing would remain a central part of Nigerian culture and identity Nigerians believed amateur boxing performed an essential role in creating gentlemanly citizens and reforming juvenile delinquents into proper men. Furthermore, the victory served to validate boxing as a worthwhile enterprise for Nigerians to discipline proper world. Moreover, local and national ideals of masculinity and nationalism as manliness evolved from the 4 Bassey, Bass ey on Boxing , 63. 5 6 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , Forward by Azikiwe , iii.
278 Muscular Citizens described in Chapter 4 World Featherweight Title fight in 1957 , described on the previous page, occurred at the same time as the London Con became world champion at the same time Nigeria became self governed and quasi independent. This reinforced the good that boxing did for the country, it pointed to the way in which the sport shaped proper gentlemen and citizens needed to lead and represent the country, and it helped promote unity during a time of increasing tribalism. With this in mind, the following analysis suggests that boxing figured centrally in British Empire Championship and in 1957 for the World Championship mirrored the growing perception that the nation was ready for i ndependence and had achieved Bassey, the Empire Championship, and Nigeria in 1955 imaginatio n of the entire colony, showing those inside and outside Nigeria what Nigerians could accomplish. In the same year , Governor Sir John MacPherson, a man heralded for encouraging the growth of a sporting atmosphere in Nigeria, was replaced in office by Sir J decolonization of Nigeria. 7 Also in 1955 , the front page of local newspapers provided a continuous stream of details about the grisly murder of the beloved singer Israel 7 J.S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism , 373. Robertson was stationed in the Sudan before coming to Nigeria and was seen b words, he oversaw the transition from colony to independence.
279 Njemanze and the subsequent murder trial that lasted nearly 10 months. 8 Significantly , the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, announced that she was coming in 1956 to tour the country, a proclamation that signaled an important opportunity for Nigerians to s readiness for internal self government. 9 achievement occurred around the same time of the year as the call for, and eventual suppression of, the Lyttleton Constitution, a move that paved the way for internal self government in 1957. Con sidered together, 1955 was clearly a year worth remembering the British Empire Championship in November of that year has the made its mark on historical memory. This a spect is routinely overlooked in historical analysis of the late colonial era. 10 As established in Chapter 7 , 1953 represented a pivotal moment for boxing in Nigeria, with victory in 1955 at the British Empire Featherweight Championship served to v alidate the role of boxing as a shaper of men, a tool by which to mold the contours of an ideal gentleman, and a s a means for placing Nigeria on the map of the sporting and political world. Newspapers helped to build anticipation for the British Empire Fea therweight title thereby transforming him into a model for youth and a symbol for the nation. He became 8 This murder trial was front page news for most of 1955. Njemanze was a famous local singer who blended several forms of music and was known throughout Lagos. His murder at the hands of his bandmates, the dumping of his body near the railroad tracks, the investigation, all made for tantalizing news. His trial even became a chapbook in Onitsha. 9 Coleman, Nigeria , 373. 10 The notab
280 a regular fixture on the front page of several of the daily n ewspapers in Lagos, and he one from Oyebalo Jolaoso, were typical to our nation but inspiration to our athletes . . . . 11 Many recognized that the outcome of the fight had important significance for domestic pride and international recognition. For the first time, a Nigerian stood on the precipice of winning Empire wide respect. As historian Brian Stoddart notes abou important contributing factor here was the role of the sports hero in the raising of both 12 In the western world, boxing had for many years served as a national emblem for which the victory of boxers represented the greatness of the nation. 13 with other nations, and his victories autonomy. British Empire Cha mpion In November of 1955, Bassey fought Kelly in Belfast, and since Kelly was an Irishman, he had a home crowd advantage as well as an Irish referee, prompting many 11 Oyebalo Jolaoso , DS Nov 19, 1955 12 Comparative Studies in Society and History , Vol. 30, No. 4 (Oct., 1988), 664. 13 See Ejikeme, 445. See Gorn, Manly Art , See Hietala , Fight of the Century .
281 Figure 8 1. lost the British Empire Featherweight Title to Hogan Kid Bassey in 1955. NDT 11 May 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Fig ure 8 2 . Front Page of NDT on the morning of fight for the Empire Championship. NDT 19 November 1955. Cour tesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
282 Figure 8 3 . Picture of Bassey training. NDT 12 Nov 1955 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Nigerians to wonder if Bassey would receive a fair match. 14 Bassey had other concerns as well. Kelly had previously defeated Bassey in London in 1953 on a points decision. 15 Moreover, Kelly won the British Empire Featherweight Title when he defeated fellow West African Roy Ankrah of Ghana (then Gold Coast) in 1954. Bassey had to be the best in order to beat Kelly, something many believed could not happen. Despite having the advantage on a number of different levels, Kelly made a fateful mistake. He dominated the fight early, and in the sixth round he opened a gash the eighth round Bassey dodged an attack and delivered a vicious right hook, knocking 14 NDT October 30, 1955. Articles l that he might lose to a superior opponent. 15 BoxingRec . http://boxrec.com/boxer/22405 .
283 Kelly out. 16 , and the Irish boxer stared up at the lights for a full four minutes before regaining consciousness. 17 According to some reports, officials feared that Kelly lay dying in the ring, and they called a priest out from the audience to administer his Last Rites . 18 Eventually, Kelly regained consciousness, but the ferociousness of the knockout was and coming nation. 19 For weeks after the fight, the comments sections of sever al Lagosian papers were filled with letters about the outcome of the fight and what it meant for Nigeria. As 20 Another read, Sportsmanship and what is more, he has put our fast g rowing country of Nigeria on the 21 Another reader wrote in, stating, has courageously boxed his way to singular fame and has admirably placed our dearly 16 Derry Journal May 11, 2010 . http://www.derryjournal.com/sport/billy spider kelly 1 2145685 . 17 Ibid. This newspaper reports says it was two minutes. Regard less, he was knockout and worries over 18 Interview with Adeyinka Makinde, London, England, May 2013. Also, Jim Jenkinson and Gary Shaw, The Mersey Fighters alled praying on his knees in the ring hoping for Kelly to wake up. He thought they would not make it out of the arena alive if anything happened to Kelly in front of his fans. 19 West Africa, November 26, 1955. 20 DS Nov 22 , 1955. 21 DS Nov 23 , 1955 .
284 22 Ref 23 Significantly, all of these reports describe the importance of the victory in terms of worldwide recognition of Ni progress of the country. Figure 8 4 . Picture of Bassey receiving his Empire Championship trophy . Presented to Bassey by none other than Douglas J. Collister , the first Nigerian Boxing Board of Control . Chairman, and the then Nigerian Steward on the British Empire Boxing Board of Control. DS 21 Nov 1955. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. After winning the British E mpire Title, Bassey cemented his place as a national hero. The newspapers showed photographs of him with his new trophy, as well as in the ring standing over the former white Empire champion, displaying his ascension and in both the UK and in Nigeria. Horatio Agedah 22 DS Nov 29 , 1955. 23 DS Nov 30, 1955.
285 sporting event; never before did a boxing match claim the interest and attention of so many people including even those whose ge neral knowledge of the fight game does not go beyond the sight of two pugnacious children in the street corner or perhaps a 24 The Bassey name, according to he 25 Even more, the fight of 1955 served to unify a nation that experienced division on multiple levels. Chief H.O. Davi es described listening to the radio broadcast of the Bassey fight, and how surrounding his radio were Westerners, Easterners, and expatriates cheering for Bassey . 26 Once the announcement aired that Kelly was counted white and black, East and West and 27 For a brief moment, the fight and Bassey himself united a people normally divided politically, ethnically, and racially to the point of embrace. In ith noisome glee in Nigeria, and in different ways and various measures people of all classes marked the occasion with 28 Reflecting a clear identification with Bassey, his win sparked 24 Horatio Agedah , NDT Nov 20 , 1955. 25 Ibid . 26 NDT Nov 21 , 1955 . Chief H.O. Davie s was one of the first European educated Lagosian lawyers. He was instrumental in the creation of the Nigerian Youth Movement and later as a member of the NCNC West Africa , May 20, 1950, 437. 27 NDT Nov 21 , 1955 . 28 NDT Nov 27 , 1955.
286 29 People celebrated and partied early into the morning, dancing in the streets at the fact that Nigeria had a world champion, forgetting for a moment the divisions in Nigerian society. Throughout ogether in a way that eluded, and continues to elude, the best efforts of politicians. Even as people debated the appropriateness of boxing in 1953, Bassey represented a beacon towards which Nigerian sportsmen pointed when discussing the good qualities of the sport and the ascension of Nigeria in the international arena. That the previous year , a debate ensued in the newspaper about whether Hogan Bassey or 30 Supporting Bassey, Horatio Agedah of the NDT qualities of a sportsman, and popularity alone should not be the reason that he be sportsman of the year. 31 Instead, Ageda h pointed to a different, up and coming athlete: 29 NDT Nov 21 , 1955 . 30 Horatio Agedah , "Popularity Alone Does not Make the Best Sportsman" NDT Nov 16 , 1953 . Balogun was one of the first football stars of the colony and one of the first to be recruited by an English club team, eventually working his way up to pl . Balogun was admired for his skill with the ball and his powerf ul shot. Today, he is remembered in Lagos (and the country) through a stadium in Surulere suburb of Lagos named after him. 31 Ibid . Agedah was a famous sports reporter in Lagos and wrote several commentary articles, including those that defended boxing in 1 953 after the death of Homicide Ilor i, as mentioned in Chapter 7 . For more deta ils on Agedah, see Chapter 7 to the Gold Coast 7 0 and the controversy that surrounded that affair. For mo re information on the history 2003).
287 I will tell you where to look for these rare qualities of good sportsmanship. Take a flight with me to Liverpool and straight we go to the stables of Boxing Manager Peter Banasko. There, shooting short, crisp punches at a rattle ball or engaged in a body building exercise, you find a young man, barely twenty one years of age, short and thick set, coming forward to greet you, with a modest smile and a humble 'how do you do, sir?' That is Nigeria's greatest sportsman of the year 1953 Hogan (Kid) Bassey. 32 ortsman because he was not a gentleman outside the pitch, nor was he humble, always thinking about how his behavior reflected on his country and f ellow citizens. Bassey stood in contrast to this, as he recognized the importance of displaying characteristics beyond mere athletic ability. 33 For Agedah, it was not the popu larity of the athlete that mattered -and Balogun was certainly popular -but rather the qualities of a sportsman, the gentlemanly demeanor, and the prestige that the athlete brought to bear on Nigeria internationally. Figure 8 5. Picture of Horatio Agedah . NDT January 1, 1955. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 32 Ibid . 33 Ibid.
288 Agedah was not the only person to present Bassey as an ideal representative for ding up to in 1955, figures such as Jack Farnsworth, Secretary of the NBBC, and Sir Stuart MacPherson, the Governor General, heralded him as a true gentleman, a Nigeria n and Liverpudlian hero, and the best ambassador for Nigeria. 34 Farnsworth wrote in the NDT before the fight, stating: I can think of no one in the intervening purity and who has so consistently brought credit to Nigeria in the world of sport. One might say almost, in out of the ring, the sporting manner in which he has both won and lost fights and by sheer character he has endeared himself to the boxing public wherever he has appeared . 35 own status as a role model and rejuvenated the boxing scene in Nigeria, and especially Lagos, reinforcing its potential as a tool by which to further the nation domestically and internationally. The 1955 mat ch for the British Empire Featherweight Championship clearly galvanized and united Nigerians, while simultaneously showcasing the potential and realized merit of the nation to the world during the beginnings of the independence movement. 36 In this manner, B 34 NDT Nov 13 , 1955. The Governor General, Sir Stuart MacPherson had sent a letter to Bassey indicating his pride in Bassey, and how great an ambassador he was for the country because of his gentlemanly demeanor inside and outside the ring. 35 Ibid . 36 Ejikeme, Hogan Bassey . NDT Nov 27 , 1955; NDT Nov 21 , 1955 . Also see Chapter Seven for the arguments to keep boxing going in 1953 after t he deaths of three boxers.
289 37 ahead Hogan Bassey to place Nigeria still on a higher plane in the boxing world than any 38 aspirations fo r international recognition and self government. future, newspaper reports and interviews indicate that Bassey himself also became a man worthy of emulation because of his hi gh character inside the ring and his gentlemanliness outside of it. 39 years old at the time of the fight, encouraged many to see boxing as a way by which to mold boys into the upright, moral men needed to lead the country. As one report characteristic of the African race 40 Many boxers were described as able to withstand punishment, a sign of their strength and determination, laudable qualities in Nigerian men, as described in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 publicized victory, and his status as a nation hero, link ed the desired traits of a gentleman and the strength and virility of t he nation to the perceived 37 Several letters to the editor and articles claimed Bassey had placed Nigeria on the world map. For example, see DS Nov 22 , 1955 . 38 Oba Adele , NDT Nov 13 , 1955. 39 Interviews with the Professor, Adeniji Adele, Olu Moses, Abraham Adeyemi Jones, Jerry Okorodudu, A de Makinde. May July 2012 2013. 40 DS Nov 30 , 1955.
290 41 This connection was not uncommon, as several colonies in the British Empire used boxing in the 1950s for such a cultural purpose. 42 In the case of Nigeria, however, the black boxer became both the s ymbol of the nation and the success of the race at large. 43 Presenting Nigeria as a nation on par with England and other established countries was difficult not only because of political infancy, but also because of perceptions of race. A champion was needed to model both the excellence of the state and of the race of its people. 44 According to Anene Ejikeme, Bassey had two qualities that made him an ideal national hero: Bassey himself was not from one of the three major ethnic groups, and he was al so a well traveled and worldly figure that claimed many identities, both of which made rallying around him easier. 45 Bassey was an Efik man, and since he was not Igbo, Yoruba, nor Hausa/Fulani, he was able to transcend the established ethnic divide in Niger ia that had stifled political aspirations for the nation. Bassey being from an ethnic minority meant that no one single ethnic group could claim him during this time period. 46 These characteristics, however, cannot stand as the only reason for his popularit y, fame, and hero status in Nigeria. They facilitated his ascendance, but it was the sport of boxing and the fact that his participation in the 1955 fight for the British 41 42 Roy Ankrah and London Kid and h is role on the Gold Coast , Ivor Germaine of Trinidad, Joe Bygraves of Jamaica, all of whom were in England and several in Liverpool with Bassey. 43 See Hietala, Fight of the Century, 1 11. 44 Hietala, Fight of the Century, 6 8. 45 445. 46 Ibid.
291 Empire Featherweight occurred at such a politically crucial moment that propelled his ethnicity into the spotlight. As Tyler Fleming argues, Africans had long followed boxing 47 Bassey was part of a larger process of what Emmanuel Akyeampon 48 Although being a minority did indeed help this process of attaining national stardom, one cannot forget that a similar process happened in Nigeria in 1962. As I argue elsewhere, Ig bo boxer Dick Tiger (Richard Ihetu) also won a world title for Nigeria at the middleweight division. Similar to Bassey, Tiger was lauded as a national hero and a gentleman despite his Igbo background and the intense regionalism in the early independence pe riod. 49 gentleman, boxer, and international leader that elevated him as a national hero. The political significance of Bassey and his victory in the ring was not lost on contemporary politicians. Dr. Chike Obi, secretary general of the Dynamic Party, said, struggle for politi cal, economic, cultural, and spiritual freedoms. We politicians, who are succeed like Hogan and place Nigeria as a united and unified great country on the 47 Tyler Fleming, 1924 International Journal of the History of Sport 28. 1 (2011): 48 . 48 Emmanuel Akyeamp Bukom and the Social History of Boxing in Accra: Warfare and Citizen ship in International Journal of African Historical Studies 35. 1 (2002): 45. 49 Also see Adeyinka Ma of Dick Tiger, Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal.
292 50 In connection with the goal of a unified country, something all Nigerian politicians at the time aspired towards, Bassey was proof that it was possible to unite a politically diverse and divided people through a common identity as Nigerians. As Jan Dunzendorf er has shown in his focus on Ghana, the development of the local boxing 51 Each Bassey victory achievements sent shockw aves through the nation, serving to develop amateur boxing, update the definition of manliness, and strengthen the connection between boxing and the vitality of the nation. Aftermath of British Empire Victory atherweight Championship facilitated three specific changes regarding boxing and its connection to perceptions of proper citizens and the place of Nigeria on the world stage. First, amateur boxing gained newfound encouragement and validation as a site for the training of Muscular Citizens. Second, many began to see boxing, as well as boxers themselves, as loci of idealized masculine traits, including courage, sportsmanship, and gentlemanliness. Finally, these developments concerning boxing were articulated through 50 NDT Nov 21 , 1955 . Dr. Obi was a mathematician and lecturer at the University of Ibadan and later the creator of the Dynamic Party in 1951. The party believed in Kemalism for emergent later became the secretary of the NCNC delegations to the London Conferences in 1957 and 1958. He became the House of Azikiwe became President of the Senate in 1960, as a member of the NCNC. He was expelled from the party in 1961 for criticisms of the party and leaders, and later tried for sedition by the federal government when printing and handing out pamphlets, but later acquitted. For more information, see Richard L. Sklar Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation , 406 408. 51 The early days of boxing in Ac cra: a s port is taking root (1920 The International Journal of the History of Sport , 28:15 (2011): 2145.
293 advertisements. 52 changes, these trends would continue to evolve through 1957 when Bassey won the World Featherweight Title, the fight described at the beginning of this chapter. Ove r the span of a few years, people would increasingly associated boxing with the vitality of the nation in a positive way, use it as a testament to, and example for, concepts of proper internal self government and independence. the years following 1955, it was considered to be of great value for making gentlemen and citizens in the colony. The Lagosian amateur boxing circuit experienced an immediate boost in support and acceptance. A new generation of amateur boxers bred e early 1950s (see Chapter 5 ) made the jump to professional boxing in 1955, highlighting the possibility for young boxers to grow into professional and able bodied men. 53 When Bassey became the first Nigerian to win an Empire Championship in 1955, he fired up the imaginations of boys Clubs with the hope of replicating his success. 54 It also influenced former boxers such 52 For a detailed look at Muscula r Citizenship, see Chapter 4. 53 vement in Nigeria, see Chapter 5 . 54 Interview with the Professor
294 as former professional boxer Lawson Moon, who came out of re tirement to try his hand at boxing once more in the squared circle. 55 This growing interest and the success that Bassey modeled justified further support of the sport on both a local and national level through the support for Clubs sporting activities . 56 Although the Nigerian Amateur Boxing Association (NABA) had been present in Nigeria since 1951, it was not until 1955 that the first fruits of the amateur class began to ripen and make the move into the professional ranks. By early 1955, several big nam e amateur champions, including Howard Jones and Rafiu King, turned professional in order to make money and acquire fame in the same manner as Bassey. 57 In 1955 the NABA, under the chairmanship of Jack Farnsworth, decided to expand the amateur circuit outwar ds to the provinces so that the good ideals and traits of amateur boxing would be available to more Nigerians. 58 Farnsworth sent former boxer Dick Turpin (real name D.T. Uchegbue, an ex flyweight champion of Nigeria) to tour the provinces like Warri, Sapele , Kaduna, and the Mid West and find suitable and promising boxers around which to construct clubs. 59 These clubs would in turn provide Lagos and Nigeria with a steady supply of boxers from which to choose for international competitions like the Olympics and Empire Games, events that offered opportunities to 55 NDT Nov 29 , 1955 . The squared circle was a nickname given to the boxing ring. Although a ring is circular, the boxing ring is in the shape of a square, so it has been aptly called the squared circle. 56 As mentioned in Chapter 5 during the early 1950s among the youth of Lagos, and later the colony. 57 ND T 3 Jan 1955 professional class was to seek new 58 NAB A Asks Turpin to Lay Foundation NDT Jan . 5, 1955. 59 Ibid .
295 showcase Nigeria. As Horatio Agedah argued in 1955, Nigeria should focus its efforts on popular sports like boxing rather than new sports like rugby and basketball because sports; the sports which claim the largest number of 60 The country should continue with sports like boxing and football and perfect them in order to 61 Like Agedah, many people began to encourage the sport of boxing within society as a way to cultivate citizenship and gentlemanliness. As reported in the NDT Welfare Department has long realized the value of boxing in the character training and the physical training of boys. Hence the number of boxing clubs it has helped bring to birth here in Lagos, and in the provinces in places like Ibadan, Port Harcourt, and 62 Newspaper reports suggest th at amateur boxing was key to making men out of troubled and misguided urban youths, as discussed in Chapter 5 . The success of at the amateur scene by 1955 was proof of such development and the effectiveness of b oxing training . The proliferation of boxing clubs and boxing in , in conjunction with a supposed decrease in crime, bore out this fact. Supporting the amateur boxing scene was one way that enlightened elite Nigerians could support the future gen eration, or at least make sure that its 60 Horatio Agedah , NDT Sept 4, 1955. poll to determine the most because it is the oldest and most accessible. Behind aware of the truth that the standard of soccer, the most popular sport in Nigeria, is at present sinking 61 Ibid. 62 NDT Jan 16 , 1955; also DS Jan 17 1955.
296 members were on track to lead the country on its path to independence. As the NDT youngsters putting up a game show and at the same time are doing their share in 63 Attendance at boys and men 64 In other words, supporting amateur boxing was a way to support healthy manhood and nationhood. Beyond character development, boxing was also hailed as a sport accessible to all Nigerians, similar to soccer. More specific of the delinquents were non scholars and so to keep youth busy in their leisure hours the Welfare Department 65 As the NDT reported of There are few sports more calculated to inculcate stamina and the sporting spirit in a youngster than boxing. There is not a fanatical pacifist would deny that every young man should be able to look after himself in a rough house, and how better to do so than by learning the noble art of self defence? Not every youngster can get hold of a tennis racket or even a [cricket] bat, or join a group that has access to the necessary space to play football. But few boys are so underprivileged as not to be able to lay hands on a 63 NDT Jan 16 , 1955. 64 Ajibade Balogun , NDT Jan 30, 1955. 65 Ibid.
297 just a pair o f knickers. That is all he needs. His boxing club supplies the gloves, the ring and the opponent. 66 It is significant that the NDT writer describes the usefulness of boxing in inculcating stamina (healthy energy), sporting spirit (sportsmanship), and the ab ility to take care of oneself physically (toughness/strength), all prerequisites for gentlemanly character. A variety of other reports reinforce the perception that boxing produced well balanced men by pointing to the ability of amateur boxers to apply sk ills learned through the sport to other aspects of their lives in urban Lagos. For example, in January 1955 an announcement that boxer Joe Rufus, real name Raufu Oyenuga, had just finished a five year apprenticeship as a mechanic took up half of the sports page. 67 In the article, the 68 emperament and said that it gave him pleasure to mention that Joe never at any time misused his boxing 69 It was not uncommon to see reports similar to this one that testified to the usefulness of boxing in shaping well behaved young men who would ne ver dream of becoming violent offenders outside the ring. Such reports often noted how young boxers had been when they began boxing and how they had developed into useful and 66 NDT Jan 16 , 1955. 67 DS Jan 17, 1955. 68 Ibid. 69 Ibid.
298 disciplined citizens and employed men proof that sustained boxing in the lives of youth was instrumental in their development into gentlemen. 70 It was heralded as a sign of progress and a boon to boxing that such successful men had started as boxers. For s 71 Rufus was not alone, as several weeks later a similar report came out about Sunny Dudu. 72 These examples demonstrated to many that boxing was in fact not a savage sport , as discussed in Chapter 7 , but was a great source of discipline for young men, setting them on the right path to success and prosperity as individuals and as part of a collective society of Nigerians. \ Figure 8 6 . Picture of Joe Rufus. DS April 28, 195 5 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 70 In the case of Rufus, the article notes that he started box ing at the age of 17. 71 DS Jan 25 , 1955. 72 DS June 21 , 1955 . H is real name Emmanuel A. Adeleye, was a finalist for the shorthand examination with a rate of 90 words per minute. He hopes to make it to the UK to study shorthand.
299 As Abosede George argues in her analysis of girls in colonial Lagos, the child in colonial reg the leadership of elite Nigerian women and men. 73 Similar to the concept that young girls needed the protection of the state and proper education to war Nigeria and especially Lagos needed guidance to become modern men. Part of this di scourse centered on the belief that boys were not receiving the proper education in schools, and thus they lacked proper character. More specifically, many asserted that it was necessary to instill sportsmanship, strength, and courage in boys at a young ag e. As the success of boxers like Bassey became public knowledge, Nigerians came to believe that these characteristics were only accessible through sport, as mentioned in Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 . In the case of girls, Nigerians saw the alteration of girlhoo proper citizens. 74 As demonstrated by Jan Dunzendorfer in his examination of Ghana, administrators in other countries also used sport to educate young boys on ho w to be men. 75 Building on the scholarship of George and Dunzendorfer, this section argues that while Western style education was emphasized as the primary means by which to 73 Abosede George, Making Modern Girls, 6. 74 Ibid. , 7. 75 The early days of boxing in Accra 2145. For more information about the Games Ethic, see J. A. Mangan, The cultural bond: sport, empire, society ( London: F. Cass. , 1992).
300 socialize Nigerian girls into modern women, there was a growing concern that Nigeri an boys required better schooling as well as and sporting clubs to develop into proper men. I argue that sport, and especially boxing, played a crucial role in the 1950s in making young boys into modern men and citizens due to the perpetual fea r that Nigerian males lacked strength, character, and ultimately masculinity. Despite the fact that education had recently become free to all, many Nigerians feared that educational institutions, as well as traditional styles of parenting, were not effici 76 One newspaper article dated from 1955 decried the indigenous Nigerian ways of rearing a child in urban cities like Lagos, relying too much on keeping the child a perpetual child until adulthood/marriage. The writ er argued that parents should treat their children as adults early on, which will allow 77 The article specifies that parents, and mothers particularly, placed too much emphasis on coddling and cuddling children. It was bett er l right at a certain age, but unless a child is going to become a sissy, cuddling should not be carried too far, as a matter of fact some children, at the tender age of two, rese nt being 78 The article mentions that English kids sit at the adult table for meals, and they like being treated with respect. In contrast, Nigerians were careful not to allow their I hope modern parents realise that that time is past. The world is progressing daily, and if we do not wish to be 76 For information about free primary education in Western Nigeria, see S. Ademola of Free Educatio n in Western Nigeria, 1951 Journal of Social Sciences 3. 1 (2008) : 108 122. 77 Modupe , DS May 30 , 1955 . 78 Ibid.
301 79 ldren as kids. The country needed proclaimed. 80 Figure 8 7 . Picture of children from Yaba. Th ese children were under the protection of into proper citizens. DS May 14 1955. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. In addition to parenting, bad economic circumstance s produced by colonialism, the Great Depression, and the Second World War contributed to a growing population of unemployed, wayward young juvenile delinquents and unattached bachelors, who 79 Ibid. 80 DS May 14 , 1955 .
302 were seen as rebellious in the eyes of many Nigerians. 81 This probl ematic group produced a counterculture comprised of free spending, women chasing, marriage postponement, fashion consciousness, and possibly criminal behavior that defied local custom. 82 Partly to blame, thought colonial officials, was the city and its detr ibalizing effects on young men, as seen in Chapter 4 . Another scapegoat was the lack of schooling, and proper schooling found in the colony to develop manhood. As independence loomed, these problems appeared increasingly precarious, producing a discourse about masculinity and its relationship to citizenship. As Stephanie Newell observed through her reading of Onitsha market literature, the 1940s 60s period identity, female in stability, and modern behavior in the urban city. 83 Many Nigerians argued that young men were not being raised at home or in school correctly, and contemporary newspaper articles revealed signs of an insecure masculinity in the process of having its body re 84 Citizenship and 81 Also See Waller M.A. Sobamowo , "Marriage: a Bachelor's Views" NDT Jan 24 , 1947 . Sobam owo said that choosing to be a bachelor is important and are the lifeblood of a society for eligible women to marry. His reasons for not marrying are as follows. 1) Not enough money to marry it is costly to have a wife and kids and they cannot be easily afforded. He spends his money on a car and clothes and liquor because it costly. 2) Want to give his wife not just the necessities but the luxuries. w hy should two people live enough you women have to bring something to the table as well. 82 M.A. Sobamowo , "Marriage: a Bachelor's Views" NDT Jan 24 , 19 47; and Lisa Lindsay, Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2003), 8. 83 Stephanie Newell , From the Brink of Oblivion: The Anxious Masculinism of Nigerian Market Literatures Research in African Literatures , 27. 3 (Autumn, 1996): 52. 84 Ibid.
303 nationalism were increasingly tied to perceptions of the ideal man, and traits described as necessary for men were also proclaimed as necessary for the nation. The circumstances that created a c risis of masculinity in Nigeria also played out in the United States, and they motivated a development that Holt and Thompson call the 85 According to these scholars, Heroic Masculinity emerged in the United States as a respo nse to the shortcomings and failures of urban men who had become emasculated by recent and drastic socioeconomic changes. 86 of action hero an idealized model of manhood that resolves th e inherent weaknesses in two 87 Along with the valorization threat as middleclass men assumed the mantle of a more do mesticated breadwinner: rugged individualism, an adventurous spirit, risk taking, displays of physical prowess, 88 provide a useful template with which to better understand the emergence of breadwinner and rebel masculinities that also emerged in Nigeria in response to economic hardship. As Lisa Lindsay has deftly shown, Nigerian men consistently 85 Douglas B. Holt and Craig J. Thompson , Man of Action Heroes: The Pursuit of Heroic Masculinity in Everyday Consumption Journal of Consumer Research , 31 . 2 (September 2004) . 86 Ibid , 425. 87 Ibid. 88 Ibid., 42 5 426.
304 model to assert their manhood and claim to be modern. 89 As seen in Chapter 5 , Nigerian men also took to the mythologized cowboy image, consumed numerous films, created Cowboy Clubs, and boxers even named themselves after cowboys they had seen in Westerns. 90 Furthermore, as Lindsay has noted, the urban environment in 1950s Lagos was gendered towards a more masculine space and physical prowess was idolized. 91 And yet, the development of breadwinner and rebel masculinities did not encompass nor satisfy the inhere nt weaknesses of male urban colonial masculinity. economic success and gentlemanly behavior, providing another avenue through which masculinity could be expressed in line with th e demands and expectations of the postwar African urban locale. Bassey was the most accomplished sporting star the colony had ever seen. The Welfare Department had already begun the process of correcting the perceived lack of manliness in the postwar gene ration through sport, which they believed was key to molding children in all aspects, social and otherwise. And, according to Faulkner, the , in which boxing was emphasized, were with leadership, courage, and strength. 92 89 Lisa Lindsay, Working with Gender , especially Chapter Five. 90 For examp le, Small Montana, Little Zorro , Texas Kid, Hollywood Texas, Billy the Kid, and Roy Rogers to name a few. Horatio Agheda , "The Nigerian Boxer and His Name" NDT Dec 27 , 1953. 91 92 West Africa Dec 22, 1951, pg 1181.
305 By 1951 there were over 25 in Lagos and its surrounding areas, with 12 on the main island alone. 93 With boxers like Bassey as their model, participation in these clubs skyrocketed, and the number of these institutions jumped to over 50 in 1955. 94 Boys increasingly took part in the culture of boxing by joining these clubs in rapid numbers, and also by enthusiastically following boxing in the newspapers. 95 In fact, as Peter Marris descr ibed in his study of Lagosian families in the early 1960s, many young men recalled their boyhood fascination with boxing and particularly the figure of the boxer. 96 Connected with this interest, young boys often collected the pictures of boxers presented in the local newspapers and stored them in scrapbooks, similar to the hero worship reflected in the collection of baseball cards by young kids in the United States. 97 Pointing to the literal value that boxers gained in society, many kids collected boxing pict 98 In addition to the economic opportunity such photos represented, child ren also collected them because they wished to emulate the skills and traits of the boxers depicted, in addition to their masculine adult body. 93 Ibid. 94 NAI COMCOL 248/S.126 African Boys Club 95 Peter Marris, Family and Social Change in an African City: A Study of Rehousing in Lagos (Northwestern University Press, 1962), 61. 96 Ibid. 97 See James F. Smith and Vicki Abt Gambling as Play The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science , 474, Gambling: Views from the Social Sciences (Jul., 1984) ; and John Bloom , A Hous e of Cards: Baseball Card Collecting and Popular Culture ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997 ). 98 Marris, Family and Social Change in an African City , 61. Also, interview with Abraham Adeyemi Jones May 2013, Lagos , Nigeria.
306 Manhood and Muscular Citizenship As explained above, Nigerians increasingly tied manhood to the strength of the nation, and many believed that education in 1955 was not of the right quality to teach boys the skills necessary to lead the country in the coming years. As the Daily Service se they lack what it takes to make them that. Men of courage are what Nigeria needs today. A man of accurate and precise decision, able to lead this country to the self 99 It is significant that this excerpt claims that on ly men of a certain character could make Nigeria great and offer the type of leadership needed for self government and independence. As Modupe noted in her article: Good qualities are not born in a man, they are acquired and not in one day or one year, b ut in a number of years. That is why character formation in childhood is very important indeed. A coward and one who clings to HE, whose childhood is of strong and forceful character , who is the man and a worthy leader of his people. 100 on masculinity in Southern Nigeria sho ws, young boys were traditionally socialized from boy child from motherly care into the world 101 The skills through which boys 99 Modupe , DS May 30 , 1955. 100 Ibid . Emphasis added 101 Southeastern Nigeria, 1850 39
307 102 Colonialism, however, altered the sports landscape in the urban context, and by 1955, people increasingly saw boxing as the solution for inculcating masculini ty. Although Modupe did not explicitly was heavily promoted by the Welfare Department, , and schools as part of their curriculum in order to instill ideal mascu line traits in young men. In the words of A. Grillo, Chairman of the Oke 103 The promotion of boxing as a metho d by which to save and reform young juvenile delinquents was a common feature in the newspapers, especially reports of the Approved School at Isheri. For example, an article in 1953 links its success in molding working and pe boys practicing the sport at school . 104 Sport was an important part of the mission to rehabilitate young troubled boys into valuable male citizens. 105 Over the years, as discussed previously , the qualities of ideal men character, strength, toughness, and sportsmanship were consistently attached to boxers portrayed in the newspapers. For 102 Ibid. 103 DS 30 June 1953. 104 "Successful Experiment at Isheri: Approved School offers chance of rehabilitation to Delinquents" NDT Nov 15 1953. Lo cated 16 miles from Lagos, the Isheri school houses over 180 boys that have been condemned as delinquents. only school for delinquents run by and funded by the government. The school is divided btw juniors (10 14yrs) and seniors (15 18). Much of the training a boy receives is vocational, with only 2 hours a day for reading, writing, and math. The first place he works is in the kitchen to teach hard work. "the length of a boy's stay on the kitchen depends on his good character. If he is able to overcome the urge to steal and behaves well, then he qualifies for th e next stage." The next stage if 12 months on the farm, which can be extended if he is naughty. After that they choose a trade to be taught. From bricklaying, carpentry, tailoring, farming, paint ing, and smithery. T he time of training then is 3 years befor e he can go in front of the labour board and apply for a certificate of competency. 105 "Sport and Vocational Therapy at Isheri Approved School" NDT Nov 15, 1953.
308 example, one newspaper lauded Sunny Dudu for his strong character, stating that lant boxer with plenty of vim and fire and he does not seem to 106 His courage in the ring, his ability to take punishment and keep coming, and his never say die attitude was a testament to his strength and determination, ex actly what a country needed, as indicated by Modupe. In fact, when describing an upcoming fight between Howard Jones and Speedy Twitch, a boxer. He seems to have a punishm 107 As these descriptions show, boxers were indeed courageous and brave, not sissies or cowards. 108 Nigeria did not need cowards. Figure 8 8 . Boxing at the Approved School at Isheri, where condemned juvenile delinquents were sent for rehabilitation. NDT November 15, 1953 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 106 DS May 30 1955 . 107 NDT Oct 31 1955. 108 Mbah ,
309 Figure 8 9 . A photo of two young boys boxing in Ebute Metta at a B oys Club function. NDT May 14, 1955. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 10. Picture of Sunny Dudu. DS May 30, 1955 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
310 Contemporary advertisements printed in Nigerian newspapers reflect the impact focused on masculine strength, power, and muscles. As demonstrated in Chapter 5 , the connection betw een masculinity and sport and muscular bodies gained more argument that the Nigerian public sphere became male dominated in the 1950s, giving way to important networks o f patronage through which the standards of masculinity were debated. 109 Concomitant with that development was the exponential growth of sport and particularly boxing. Examined together, the increasing prominence of boxing and the ongoing discourse about the ideal male influenced advertisements and rhetoric in the media , which in turn emphasized a muscular male body as it was exemplified on the fields, arenas, courts, and boxing rings in the colony. In other words, contemporary advertisements evidence the grow ing connection between boxing and ideas about masculinity because they make corporeal the incorporeal. As Anne Kelk Mager argues in her analysis of beer advertisements in South Africa, which often used sports images vides a structure through which goods and consumers become interchangeable, so that in place of the product beer it encourages the consumption of signs such as success, status or powerful male 110 109 107. Also See 110 Anne Mager , One Beer, One Goal, One Nation, One Soul': South African Breweries, Heritage, Masculinity and Nationalism 1960 1999 Past & Present , 188 (Aug., 2005) : 167.
311 alcohol, consumption, and manliness together. 111 Sellers reali zed that they could link Advertisements continued to display the themes outlined in Chapter 3 , where strength and energy, two things ever in demand by Nigerians (or at least the things the British believed were lacking in Nigerians) were advertised in the form of muscular sporting bodies. By the mid 1950s, these ads focused on showing the muscular strength and sporting performance that their products could provide. Moreover, they linked these benefits to the health of the individual as well as the success of the nation. As Figure 8 12 s hows, the ads directed at colonial white males indicated that a strong and sporting body was not only healthy but also desirable and necessary for success when administering in the colonies. 112 By the 1950s, this idealization had expanded to urban Nigerian males, evidenced through the practice of collecting boxing photo s, as noted above. 113 For example, a Phosferine ad in the mid late 1950s shows a Nigerian male with large muscles and a confident expression, an implied consequence of his taking Phosferine. The idealization of these traits are reinforced by two women depict ed in the lower part of the image, who are clearly admiring his physique. This 111 Ibid, 170. 112 Advertisement for Andrews Liver Salts featuring a white, muscular, fit boxer. NDT 3 October , 1936. 113 Interview with Ab raham Adeyemi Jones , Lagos, Nigeria, May 2012 . Also see Marris, Family and S ocial Change in an African City, 61.
312 advertisement suggests that the attainment of a strong and muscular body will project strength and elicit desire in women. 114 Figure 8 1 1 . Ad for Atwood Jaundice Bitters. Notice the appeal to strength and ability, and how physically strong a man could be. NDT May 2, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 1 2 . Advertisement for Andrews Liver Salts . F eaturing a white, muscular, fit boxer. He is being watched by an out of shap e colonial administrator. NDT October 3, 1936. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 114 Advertisement for Phosperine, a health tonic that promo ted strength and energy. NDT May 31, 1957.
313 Figure 8 1 3 . Advertisement for Phosperine, a health tonic that promoted strength and energy. Such ads were prominent in the 1950s, and as the decade went on became more focused on the muscular body and sporting performance to sell products. NDT May 31, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 1 4 . Ad for Brooke Bond Tea . Ads like these highlight the intersection between health, spor t, and strength/energy that dominated many of the ads in Nigerian newspapers in the 1950s. NDT May 2, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
314 Figure 8 1 5 . Ad for Bovril. NDT May 24, 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 1 6 . Ad for Brooke Bond Tea on the same day as the Bassey Hamia fight. NDT June 24, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 17. Krushen Salts Ad . F eaturing a boxer winning because he used their product for strength, stamina, and power. Such ads featuring sport, but not real people, were commonly used by companies in Africa. WAP February 1, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
315 Figure 8 18 . NDT July 6, 195 7. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Bassey and other contemporary boxers maintained a prominent presence in sports reports and the newspapers in general in the mid 1950s. Like Phosferine Man in the ad above, boxers were routinely pictured in new spapers punching and shirtless, exposing and displaying muscular bodies that were both idolized and desired by the general public. In fact, several former boxers recalled that, as kids during the 1940s and 50s, they collected the picture of their favorite boxers and wanted to emulate not only their fighting style but also their physiques. 115 Bassey, his fame elevated due to his Empire Title victory in 1955, quickly became part of such advertisements, representing products ranging from aspirin to bikes, all the while displaying his fitness, muscles, strength, and power. For example, in an ad for Aspro, an aspirin company, Bassey 115 Marris, Family and S ocial Change in an Af rican City , 61.
316 appears in a boxing stance, his body on display as proof of the strength the product of fered. These advertisements also used boxers to connect the evolving concept of the gentleman to the ideal of raw strength. Ads featuring Bassey, like one for Gillette razors in Figure 8 20 below, frequently depicted him in a fighting stance, as well as i n a who was imagined to be a gentleman outside the ring and a champion composed of power, strength, and muscles inside of it. The Gillette ad fit. Similarly, in an ad for BSA bicycles, Bassey is portrayed in boxing attire in the ring, as well as in civilian clothing riding the bike. In the image, Bassey rides his bike alongside another professionally gentlemanliness inside and outside the ring to the common Nigerian man, making his characteristics appear more achievable. The strength of the character as well as the body are linked to the boxer and the bicycle, highlighting the convergence of ideals, namely strength, sportsmanship, gentlemanliness, and character. Figure 8 19 . Bassey advert for BSA Bicycle. NDT January 31, 1956. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
317 Figure 8 2 0 . Ads featuring Hogan Bassey. These started to appear in Lagosian newspapers with increasing frequency in 1955. DS Nov ember 3 , 1955 and NDT January 5, 1956. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 2 1 . Another BSA Bicycle Advertisement featuring Hogan Bassey. NDT Mar ch 24, 1956 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
318 Nationalism, Bassey, and the Problem of Unity In addition to influencing ideals of masculinity, Bassey became a symbol of national ide ntity and his Empire Championship victory in 1955 had a lasting impact on concepts of nationalism. 116 As William Baker argues, African leaders had to construct institution that Africans could rally around in order to do so. 117 African nations, unlike their European and American counterparts, did not have the monumental institutions, such as national churches, on which to base national identity. Instead, national heroes came t o play this role. 118 In his analysis on Sports in Africa, Baker demonstrates that politicians were the first heroes, but athletes later served this purpose since political s represented a kind of success that was ostensibly within reach of vast numbers of 119 120 This line of thin gap to the modern state. The citizen can feel an affection for the hero which they may 116 117 Baker and Mangan, Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1987), 272 . 118 Ibid , 273 . 119 Ibid. 120 Ibid.
31 9 121 For colonies in search of a national identity, the sportsman provided a national symbol during a time when few existed, and they provided the means by which the population, fractured along political and/or ethnic lines, could express allegiance to the state. ularly important because they touted the prestige and dignity of the nation on the international stage. International international recognition for new African nations, serving a s an informal, unofficial, but highly visible corollary to the transnational activities of official diplomats and formal 122 Yet, argues Baker, the political meaning of international sport to Africans depends on the social context of the Africa n nation itself and how the people internalize said sport. 123 In other words, the sport itself must hold social meaning for the nation and its citizens to have an impact and hold value. Within the Nigerian context, lly valuable because boxing was already an established sport, for better or for worst, and it confirmed existing ideas that it could be used to create good, gentlemanly citizens. i nternational scene, and as a result, it sent a wave of national pride across the country and, in turn, inspired politicians and civilians of the possibility for independence. His 121 Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa: The Politics of Independence (New York: Vintage Press, 1961), 99. Found in 273 . 122 Sport in International Relations (Champaign: Stripes, 1978), 386 99. 123 Ibid., 277.
320 ascension occurred at the same time that Nigerian politicians were moving awa y from a unified central government to a more regionally and ethnic based government structure. 1956 (an event that actually took place in 1957) exasperated ongoing problems similarly to the events in 1953. 124 The growing distrust in national politics was articulated in the newspapers as their coverage became more partisan throughout the 1950s, reflecting the entrenched regionalism and ethnic pride/loathing in N igerians, as discussed in Chapter 7 . In the Lagosian paper, the WAP , whose readership was primarily Igbo, writers complained about the Action Group, a Western Nigeria political party catering mostly to Yorubas. The story published in February 1957 under th claimed party, has gone to the Eastern Region to lull the people into a false sense of security so 125 Such articles f urther divided Lagosians along party and ethnic lines. 126 Figure 8 2 2 . Nigerian newspapers throughout the 1950s. WAP February 4, 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 124 See Chapter 7. 125 WAP February 4, 1957 . 126 Ghana, formerly Gold Coast, received its independence in March 1957, and was a sore spot for many Nigerians who felt that their colony should have been on par with Ghana. It was further proof of their inability to unify which many saw as the only hindrance for Nigeria.
321 Figure 8 2 3 . Picture in WAP March 22, 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. realized that this issue would make national unity more difficult. The growth of tribal and et hnic associations that focused on local, town, village, and language groups and their self interests was a primary contributor to problem. Other scholars have noted how these groups played a role in the divisiveness of Nigeria through independence and the role it had on the coming Civil War in the late 1960s. 127 dominated Western Region, and Igbo dominated Eastern Region, and a Hausa Fulani 128 In the wo rds of 127 found in Toyin Falola (eds), Nigeria in the Twentieth Century ( Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2002 ), 359 378. 128 Falola and Heaton, Nigeria, 153.
322 129 In his farewell speech to Nigeria, broadcasted regional and in ter tribal rivalries and jealousies may get worse instead of better, as more and more power is handed over. I see danger, too, in the excessively bitter exchanges that go on 130 In short, to achieve independ ence it was necessary to remedy the existing tension and disunity among the different groups. In some cases, sport actually emphasized and encouraged tribal rivalry, particularly in soccer. The Players Welfare Association (PWA), an organization that promo as a way to bring fans into the stadium to raise money. While these matches, which usually pitted Yorubas against Igbos, were very popular, many looked upon them with disdain. The NDT 131 A growing number of people saw such matches as only reifying and strengthening tribalism in Lagos. One matches, in spite of past experiences, are not doing more damage than good in the country 132 Noting that each 129 General Says NDT April 12 , 1955; NDT 12 April 1955 . 130 General Says NDT April 12 , 1955. 131 Tribal Matches WAP May 14 1957. 132 Ibid.
323 face of such tribalism. 133 Supporting this sentiment, D.C. Nwokoye wrote in the NDT , explaining that the intertribal matches were food for thought for every true Nigerian who 134 Each time a match like that occurred in Lagos, These inter tribal matches should be stopped forthwith. As long as they remain, that feeling of tribalism will always exist. Every time such matches are played there has always been a fracas. When the players enter the field of play, the feeling has always been to defend the pride of the tribe. This will do Nigeria no good. 135 the more we organize football matches on the basis of tribe, the farther we shall be from 136 Although sports might be a remedy for the problems that plagued mid century Nigeria, not every sport was the appropriate antidote. Seeking a solution for the tribalism that threatened to tear the nation apart, the writers of newspaper articles offered different ways through which to establish a federal system that worked for everyone. Some believed that it was necessary to create a state for e ach tribe. No matter how many states this resulted in, everyone would be represented. 137 Most, however, continued to seek ways to bridge the ethnic/tribal lines and create a unity necessary to pursue and achieve self government and 133 Ibid. 134 N DT May 3 , 1957 . 135 Ibid. 136 Ibid. 137 NDT M ay 10, 1957.
324 independence. In May/June of 1957, t (NCNC), Chief Awolowo (AG), and the Sardauna of Sokoto (NPC), prepared for the London Conference where they would discuss the future of the nation. While these figures were important to nationalism and w ere well known throughout the colony, none of the three were able to unify the colony behind them, nor stand as a symbol of the Nigerian nation. The push for independence and impatience at its slow progress t, received its independence from Great Britain under the banner of the new nation of Ghana in March of 1957. Ghana colonies offered the opportunity to compare their developm ent and strength, as seen in Chapter 3 . Due to their complex relationship as rivals and congruous territories, 138 Consequently, the anticipation climbed for the London Conference schedu led a couple of 139 Calls for unity and pro gress were 24 ). Writers in the WAP pondered the possibility for such a positive outcome of the conference. For example, one asked rtunity to re 140 Beyond 138 WAP 8 April 1957 . 139 Ibid. 140 Ibid.
325 order to be considered a proper nation. British and Nigerian politicians w ere scheduled to review the 1953 constitution and determine the possibility for self government. 141 This conference, which one cooperation between Nigerian political parties. 142 As Nigerian leaders arrived in London, the atmosphere was much different than it had been at the previous conference in 1953. At that time, Nigeria was in the throes of the Kano Riot and superficial unity did not mitigate a growing sense that the colony wa s breaking apart. As noted by Coleman, in 1957, Nigerian leaders of the various political parties appeared to work in unity towards their goal of regional and later federal self government. 143 The 1957 conference was monumental due to the fact that, although resolutions for other issues regarding the expansion of states, minorities, and fundamental rights were postponed, it did in fact achieve self government for the Western and Eastern regions, which would take place in August of that year, and for the North ern Region in 1959. In addition, leaders also successfully reworked the federal structure of the government and instituted a Federal Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In the words of Coleman, the 141 Coleman, Nigeria: Backg round To Nationalism , 371. For a detailed look at the conference, see John Mackintosh, Nigerian Government and politics: Prelude to the Revolutions (Evanston: Northwestern University Press; 1966) . 142 Mackintosh, Nigerian Government and Politics , 29. 143 Coleman, Nigeria , 376. Also, Mackintosh, Nigerian Government and politics , 29 .
326 conference of 1957 fulfilled two Nationalist government and national 144 Figure 8 2 4 . Picture of the Taken before their trip to the London Conference. WAP May 22 , 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. While it is necessary and appropriate to recognize the hard work and effort to collaborate that the Big Three and other leaders made during the conference, part of the Featherweight Championship three days prior to the event. In the years leading up to the London Conference of 1957, it was clear that the sport of soccer would not serve 144 Coleman , Nigeria, 376 .
327 the nationalist cause due to the fact that it encouraged disunity and had no international presence. Boxing, on the other hand, did not tend to divide Nigerians and with the international map. Furthermore, the desire for a masculine, national symbol that would provide a corrective for the disunity carved out a unique space that Bassey, and boxing more generally, could occupy in the Nigerian psyche. As Ejikeme argues, Bassey proved to be the only figure able to unite the colony because he was the sole nationalist hero of the era. 145 n in the upcoming World Featherweight Championship appeared on front pages of Nigerian newspapers alongside news about the London Conference. Reflecting the way in which these two events overlapped in the minds of Nigerians, the newspapers included stateme nts from politicians extolling him as a symbol of Nigerian unity and the possibilities the future the world championship offered Nigeria an opportunity to assert its manhood on the international scene and prove quest for self ure of encouraged optimism and confidence in both politicians and Nigerian society. Examined within the cultural and political context of 1950s Nigeria, it is clear that B perceptions of boxing and the nation. This event convinced many skeptics who had 145 Ejikeme,
328 voiced their doubt about the effectiveness or even safety of boxing to support the sport as a tool b y which to instill the appropriate masculine characteristic in boys, shape strong and upright citizens, and unify these citizens with the goal of attainting Featherweight Champi onship and the London conference validated the virtue of boxing and brought it onto the same stage as the achievement of self government political contributions as a boxer and national symbol of Nigeria is further evidenced by the interaction bet ween Bassey and the major politicians of the emerging nation. Bassey, the World Championship, and Nationalist Hero In 1957, Bassey successfully defended his Empire Championship title against Percy Lewis, qualifying him to compete for the vacant World Feat herweight Title. 146 Messages of congratulations came from all over the world, reflecting an awareness that Bassey had literally placed Nigeria on the map of the world. For example, A.E. Bassey (no relation), a Nigerian student studying in Raleigh, North Caro lina explains, So many people in American had not heard the name Nigeria so many times in a concentrated period of 45 minutes as they did the night of April 26, 1957. The fight was a brilliant success for Bassey. It was also one of the most powerful and s uccessful advertisements ever programmed on 147 As domestic unity and the emergence of the nation into the international public eye. 146 Sandy Saddler, the Featherweight Champion until 1957, was in a car accident and was injured so badly that he quit the boxi ng game, relinquishing his title. The Empire Champion was given a slot in the eliminator tournament for the title, for which Bassey had to defeat Percy Lewis first in order to qualify. Bassey faced Berrios, from Puerto Rico, with the winner to face the Eur opean Champion, Cherif Hamia, for the title. 147 W AP May 24 19 57.
329 Recalling the radio broadcast of the fight in the United States, A.E. Bassey claimed, 148 Transcending the regional tribalism that plagued the nation, Hogan Bassey was the face of a united Nigeria abroad. Evidencing the connection between Bassey in the coming 149 While many doubted the abilities of politicians to advance the status of the colony, Bassey had emerged as the ideal ambassador as a result of his boxing victories. Bassey himself was not unaware of the importance of his fights for Nigeria. Leading up to the eliminator fight with Miguel Berrios in early 1957, he told reporters t world championship for my native Nigeria, which we hope 150 Bassey understood that his work in the each victory bringing his p eople a little closer to their desired status. As Bassey wrote to the readers of Drum 151 While this might be a platitude, he knew that being a celebrity came wit position where he gets a lot of publicity he is looked upon as a representative of his 148 Ibid. 149 Ibid. 150 WAP Apr 22, 1957. 151 Drum , 1957, 10.
330 152 Those in the spotlight had a responsibility to act in a proper way to represent their people and make important social connections with other countries. 153 importance on the political scene was also evident to Nigerian leaders heading to NDT reported tha t the boxer met the Big Three leaders at the Liverpool docks when they arrived for the London conference in May 1957. The report explained that as Nnamdi Azikiwe departed the HMS Aureol , he told Bassey that 154 Even more significant, the article described and compared it to the enthusiasm that Azikiwe had for the conference, intentionally blending emergence as an unofficial ambassador and his essential role in the independence movement, Matthew T. Mbu, the Federal Commissioner for Nigeria in the United Kingdom, claimed This is the most exciting moment for us Nigerians at home and abroad. Our joy kn his country. We have every reason therefore to be proud. For in Bassey, Nigeria is blessed with an ambassador who se standard of unimpectable [sic] modesty has won the respect and admiration of the British public. 155 152 Ibid. 153 Ibid. 154 NDT May 7 1957. Bassey also met the other delegates for the conference, including the Oni of Ife and Matthew Mbu. 155 WAP April 5 1957 . Born in 1927 in Ogoja, Eastern Nigeria, Mbu at the time was the youngest Federal Minister in West Africa at 27 years old. After finishing school, he became a produce clerk for Holt and Co., rising quickly to the position of produce buyer. A local favorite among Ogoja, he entered politics in 1951 and was elected to the Eastern Regional Assembly at the tender age of 24. His party then sent him as the Eastern Representative to the Federal House of Representatives, and nominated him for Federal Minister, a pos ition that he also won as part of the NCNC, the party of Azikiwe. Mbu, as Federal Minister, became an ambassador for Nigeria in the United Federal Ministers NDT 3 April 1955.
331 It is important to note that Mbu describes Bassey as both a gentleman to be admired and emulated, as well as a successful, international athlete, both necessary lidate his own. Like Bassey, Mbu was a well known personality and a bachelor. He portrayed himself as a gentleman; he was courageous, loyal, and hard to anger, qualities also lauded in Bassey. 156 Adopting the boxing language, Mbu was described as knowing ust when to hit [in politics], and then he hits hard. If you go out to campaign against 157 This light, not only portrayed Bassey as a political leader, but also resulted in the depiction of politicians as athletes. Figure 8 25. Picture of the fight between Hogan Bassey and Miguel Berrios. Bassey won this fight to secure a place in the final elimina tor for the World Featherweight Title against Cherif Hamia of Algeria. NDT M ay 3, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. 156 NDT 3 April 1955. 157 Ibid.
332 Figure 8 2 6 . . NDT May 7, 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. Figure 8 27 . Bassey and the London Conference Sharing the title page of the NDT . This was something that happened frequently in May and June 1957 as bo th events took center stage. NDT May 28, 1957 . Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives.
333 Figure 8 28 . Pictur e of Matthew Mbu . Mbu was the Federal Commissioner of Nigeria in the United Kingdom. WAP April 5, 1957. Courtesy of the Nigerian National Archives. In the days leading up the World Featherweight Title fight, it was noted in the newspapers that two of the N igerian attendees of the London Conference, Azikiwe and Awolowo, would be taking a small break from the conference to go to Paris, France to watch the match live. They contended that supporting Bassey was a matter of national importance. 158 Awolowo wrote to Bassey in early June, explaining that they were 159 Also attending the fight live was Matthew Mbu, who told the WAP Nigerians this fight means more than prestige, for Bassey is fighting to win the title on 158 WAP June 10 1957 . 159 Ibid.
334 160 It was clear to people on all levels of society that Bassey was a crucial part of the push for self government. Bassey was not merely a boxer; nor did he fit squarely in the political realm. Hogan Bassey was Nigeria, representing its collective population, its political and cultural health, and its future as an independent nation. In the 1957 World Featherweight Championship, Bassey defeated Cherif Hamia in the 8 th round of their contest by technical knockout. As mentioned at the start of the chapter, Bassey recalled that he was mobbed in the ring by his Nigerian contingent of fans. As he wrote in his autobiograph sides, and in particular, I am proud to say, from Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo, who 161 A post victory image of Bassey with Azikiwe and Awolowo was published in newspapers across Nigeria, linking the political aspirations of Ejikeme, with this victory Bassey had elevated himself to stardom unparalleled by any other Nigerian, past or present. 162 While th is is no doubt the case, it was a process that had started several years earlier in 1955 when Bassey won the British Empire title. After his 1957 victory, Bassey was depicted as a hero in both Liverpool and Nigeria. The unease that people previously felt a bout boxing was transform ed into praise for its ability to facilitate unity and political freedom. 160 WAP June 22 1957. 161 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 63. 162
335 the most famous result of a larger process of African international athletes that found success abroad and came home as national heroes . As heads of African states: triumphal tours and ceremonial receptions, omnipresent pictures and press publicity, troubadors singing their praises, and public works and st 163 Bassey, however, was not merely a Nigerian hero, he also captured the hopes and imaginations of the Liverpudlians, a fact that speaks to his international significance and his emergence as a symbol that people all of the worl d could identify with. 164 Bassey recalled in his autobiography that he felt at home in Liverpool, and that Liverpool had become his adopted city. When he returned to his h 165 Bessie Braddock, a member of Parliament for Liverpool and a Bassey supporter since his first fight in Liverpool, held a reception in his honor at the House of Commons in London, attended by none other than then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Bassey was ecstatic when Churchill congratulated him on his success. 166 167 This reception, he ld by English leaders for a Nigerian, points to the connection that boxers like Bassey 163 Baker, 273. 164 Ejikeme , 165 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 63 4. 166 Ibid. 167 Ibid.
336 established between nations, races, and political organizations. In Liverpool, such an event had never before been organized for an African. The welcome that Bassey exp erienced in Nigeria in early 1958 was even more what reception! A huge motorcade drove from Ikeja Airport to the centre of Lagos. All along the route great crowds had ga 168 Bassey himself remembered that it was mayhem, so much that he feared for his safety during his car ride procession through the streets of Lagos, but enjoyed the extra attention: Nothing on earth could stop the madly excite d crowd, and it was obvious that all the preÂarranged reception went all haywire. I had barely stepped out of the plane when I was hoisted on to the shoulders of several burly be denied a look at their champion and his family. They swarmed all over the cars, so that we were slowed down to a walking were not over for the crowd became wilder than ever, and the policemen standing on the steps of the car were trying to hold t hem off with long poles. It was agreed on all sides that nothing like it had ever been seen in Nigeria before. It was a never to be forgotten ride down to the Lagos RaceÂcourse, where we were introduced officially to Oba Adele and the Chairman of the Lagos Town Council, who made the address of welcome, to which I responded. 169 Bassey spoke to a large crowd at the Lagos Racetrack and then watched hours of traditional dance performances in his honor. Everywhere he went he was mobbed, even getting into the Mainl and Hotel on Lagos Island was a chore. Reflecting the widespread identification that people felt with the boxer, the crowd demanded to see him, and when the police presence at the hotel began to fail, Bassey went onto the 168 Walking a tight Rope: Power and Play in Daily Times (Ibadan: University Press Limited, 1987), 249 50. 169 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 67 8.
337 170 Everywhere Bassey went he was recognized and a crowd would form. 171 Evidencing his ability to transcend ethnic and tribal fractures in society, he traveled to the Eastern Region after his tour of Lagos and was feted in Enugu, P ort Harcourt, Onitsha, and Uyo. Again the crowds became a problem, this time even more so since police presence in the Eastern Region was not as pronounced as in Lagos, 172 Hyperbole aside, everyone wanted to touch the man who had brought such renown to their nation and had lead it to political freedom. Bassey had rubbed shoulders with and received congra tulations from a variety of famous figures , and people from all over the world recognized his face. In fact, in 1958 Bassey was recognized by the Queen of England as a great statesman and was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for winning the world 173 While the boxer felt that receiving the award was a source of pride, his identity remained connected to the community from wh ich he came. 174 When he visited Old Calabar, his birthplace, his people greeted him with a lively 170 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 68. 171 Bassey in his autobiography tells the story that he was recognized in a bank in Lagos, and was mobbed so much that he had to escape through the back of the bank to avoid the crowds. 172 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 69. 173 https://www.gov.uk/honours/types of honours and awards UK Gov website 174 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing .
338 reception. More significant, however, they made Bassey and his son, Hogan junior, chiefs in the Ekpe society. This was one of the highest titles/honors that an Efik man could receive. 175 Although not everyone was convinced of the value of boxing for society, as evidenced by the words of editorial adviser Geoffrey Taylor that the editor of DT , Percy Nigerian [Daily] 176 Featherweight Championship had turned public opinion concerning boxing from that of uncertainty to confident support. Mr. Harding, the District Officer of Aba, home of future Nigerian W orld Boxing Champion Dick Tiger, told Bassey on his visit to Aba that his fact, it had got 177 Furthermore, it turned Bassey and cultural value, Nigerians placed their faith in his ability to unify the nation, shape its people into good citizens, and gain independence for all. Bassey satisfied this trust through his victory at the World Featherweight Championship in 1957. In doing so, he galvanized a whole generation towards boxing. 178 This is clear when we consider that 175 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 71. 176 Jose, Walking a tight Rope , 250 . Percy Roberts was the former chairman of the Mirror Group o f Newspapers in the UK and at various times he acted as General Manag er and Managing Director of t he NDT from 1952 1960. Jose credits him with bringing military discipline and strategy to reporting the news at the NDT . 177 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , 70. 178 Int erview with the Professor Ibadan, Nigeria, July 2013. Interview with Abraham Adeyemi Jones and Olu Moses , Lagos, Nigeria, May 2012.
339 and pictures about Bassey served to increase circulation and sales of newspapers . 179 path towards international and world recognition. 180 s in Nigerian history. Akin to events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the September 11 th bombings in the United States, Nigerians that I spoke with knew where they were when the fight happened in 1957. 181 If one were to believe the stories, ever y radio in Nigeria in 1955 (Empire) and 1957 (World) were tuned to the fights. The Nigerian Broadcast Service (NBS) had long one former boxer explained where his fas cination from boxing originated, he explained 182 From the perspective of newspaper articles, Bassey was the catalyst that progressed Nigeria and its people. In reality, however, Bassey was only one man, who happened to be a skillful boxer at the right place and at the right time. The combination of political impatience, economic hardship, and anxiety about g ender created a space for an ambitious boxer to become a guiding light for those around him. Due to the 179 Jose, Walking a tight Rope , 249 50. 180 Interview with the Professor Ibadan, Nigeria, July 2013. Interview with Abraha m Adeyemi Jones and Olu Moses , Lagos, Nigeria, May 2012. 181 Interview with the Professor Ibadan, Nigeria, July 2013. 182 Ibid.
340 nature of media, which tends to sensationalize events, and interviews and recollections, which encourage people to think back fondly on the past, Bassey overly monumental and pre destined autobiography, written in 1963, Nnamdi Azikiwe, then the Governor General of an independent Nigeria, wrote that Hogan's historic win of the featherweight cro wn did more than anything else to stimulate interest in boxing among the younger elements of his countrymen. Overnight, he became a national hero of sports and the idol of many a Nigerian youth. Indeed, there could hardly have been a better hero, for Hogan had all the fine qualities of a great boxer and Bassey, as he is familiarly called, has always remained a gentleman. In this way he has not only earned credit for himself and his country but he has vindicated the finer qualities of boxing. 183 While one might and probably should question the actual influence that Bassey it provide an opportunity for historians to gauge changes and developments taking place within the emerging nation. It is appropriate to suggest that the rise of boxing in 1950s Nigeria should be examined both as a consequence of cont emporary circumstances and a lens by which to analyze the political and cultural changes taking place. Looked at concepts of masculinity, sports like boxing, and the shape o f the nation took over the years. 183 Bassey, Bassey on Boxing , Forward, iii.
341 CHAPTER 9 CONCLUSION S Hogan Bassey in Paris to become world featherweight champion started a golden era of boxing in Nigeria . This dissertation has been a history of times past, of a golden era of boxing in Nigeria that did not last. Nigerians became known in boxing circles as tough, disciplin ed fighters, and they made significant strides internationally in the sport . Nojim Ma i ye bronze in Tokyo in 1964. become a national hero for Nigeria when he won world championships in 1962 (middleweight) and 1966 (light heavyweight) . Tiger for political purposes during the civil war , however, in the country after 1970 . When Dick Tiger became the Igbo partisan, many began to look at boxing differentl y . Over forty five ye ars later, boxing has still not recovered the prominence it enjoyed in the 1950s and 60s. on Tiger, but one cannot dismis s the fact that participation in the sport steadily decrea sed in p opularity in Nigeria after hi s death in 1971. Although this dissertation does not address the Biafran secession, Dick Tiger, or their confluence through boxing , it highlights an area that is ripe for exploration. The fact that boxing could not survive the actions of Dick Tiger or the civil war also reveals how complicated the place of boxing is in the history of Nigeria, and it complicates our understanding of the impact of sport on politics, culture, and society in general . Moreover, the rise and fall of boxing over such a short perio d highlights the tremendous changes occurring in Nigeria. The figure of Hogan Bassey represented the promise of boxing and of a unified nation that has yet to be realized.
342 This dissertation has explored the relationship between boxing, culture, masculinity , and politics in Lagos, Nigeria Championship victory in 1957 in order to shed new l ight on the role that boxing played in the creation of alternate urban masculinities and the impact the sport had on the person al lives of ordinary Nigerians. In doing s o, I have tried to demonstrate the various and often contradictory ways that boxing, within the specifi c social and economic circumstances in the nation , allowed Nigerian men to create and implement form s of agency . I have attempted to analyze this phenomenon while also recognizing that spo rt and boxing in Lagos represented a tool for many different groups, including colonial authorities, elite Nigerians, and British companies, to control urban leisure and to discip line colonial workforces. As Obasa found with sport and stadiums in Nigeria, boxing 1 This work has built on and extended pervious scholarship on the emergence of new forms of masculinity in urban Lagos in after WWII . The two forms discussed here were based on urban toughness, sport, and health, and they were shaped almost exclus ively by young and unmarried men. Boxing is both a lens by which to analyze these masculinities as well an active factor that influenced their development. As boxers gained more prominence and coverage, they became the ideal masculine model, both physicall y and socially, for the younger generation of boy s and men who faced uncertain economic, political, and 1 of Expressions, 1930
343 cultural circumstances in the city of Lagos. Although it cannot be denied that British colonial sporting regimes built on and at times transformed Niger ian masculinity, masculine ideals, and gender relations in dynamic urban contexts, a study of boxing demonstrates how Nigerians actively modified gender models for their own uses. Moreover , this dissertation furthers scholarship that argues that the Great Depression and WWII were indeed important transformative periods in Nigerian and African history. The experiences of war, the training of soldiers, and deprivations of depression and wartime created a hyper masculine urban environment, one where the physic ality of boxing was appreciated, desired, and praised. b and importance in the post World War II era reflects the fusing of nationalism, perceptions of health, and masculinity in urban locals so that the discipline, character, and constitution of the individual was linked to that of the body politic. Furthermore circuit as understood by Paul Gilroy. 2 In addition to the music and literature that Gilroy highlighted in his study, boxing also served as a conduit through which people, ideas, and identities could travel, impacting conceptions of race. Nigerian boxers abroad like Hogan Bassey brought the attention of Nigeria to international eyes at a time when Nigeria was looking for world recognition and in need of an international symbol/representative . Weekly accounts of the travails of Nigerian boxers abroad posted in the Lagosian newspapers not only inspired others to box, but they also made readers aware of their grow ing presence on the international stage. 2 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity And Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993).
344 Lastly, this study shows one way that the sport of boxing , and sport more generally, can be studied as another angle of the nationalist movement during the 1950s in Nigeria and across Africa . The commentary during t he buildup and aftermath seated anxiety over the readiness of Nigeria for political independence in the face of increased tribalism and in 1957 heralded boxing as a sport that shaped men into disciplined, heathy citizens with the proper character needed to make Nigeria strong after independence. Boxing and sport became vehicles of political expression and were interlinked with political c oncerns on the local, regional, national, and international level, sometimes at the same time. This dissertation should not be read as a comprehensive history of boxing in Nigeria , as to detail all the fights, fighters, and meanings requires more work. Fut ure research needs to be done on the spread of boxing in the provinces in the 1950s , how boxing impacted Nigeria beyond Lagos , and how Nigerian boxing further impacted the capital . Moreover, this dissertation deliberately focuses on the period from World W ar I to the middle of the twentieth century, just before the independence era; the meaning of boxing for an independent Nigeria has yet to be explored fully . Such a study w ould also provide insight into changing conceptions of masculinity and the relations hip between sport and politics during the turbulent 1960s . Lastly, this dissertation could not include and 71 career began near the end of the period covered here, but he became world champion twice after independence, using his fame to political ends during the Civil War in 1967 -
345 Tiger does an excellent job of detailing his career and international impact, but it was beyond the scope of this project to give that topic t he study it deserves in relation to Nigerian political, economic, and social history . This dissertation hopefully opens some exciting future research possibilities. Why Nigerian boxing has fallen into a sorry state is as important as how it became so popul ar in the first place.
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360 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michael Gennaro graduated from York University in Toronto, Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History, as well as a Master of Arts in History with a concentration in the British Empire in Africa. He received his Ph.D. from University of Florida in 2016. His research interests include sport and leisure in West Africa. More specifically, his work examines how boxing informed and transformed masculinity and conceptions of empire during the late colonialism period in Nigeria.