DAVID ADELEYE : From Lagos street to London arena

The popular acronym, Bole Kaja coined after the exploits of Adeleye, a tough, Nigerian road transport official known for knocking out opponents in street fights in the 50s has resurfaced in the United Kingdom, as his 23-year old grandson graces world heavy weight boxing limelight, reports Adewale Adeoye.

 

An historic event took place in Lagos in the 1950s.  Somehow, more than 60 years after, the echo is reverberating in London and across the world.

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It was few days before Christmas in December 1950, according to eyewitnesses some of who are now in their 80s.

Ebute Ero in Lagos was the host. The area, known as a major terminal, witnessed its own version of ‘rumble in the jungle.’ Some 15 tough Lagos street boys were against a man cut in the physique of a typical villager.

Reports said the Lagos boys were in their James Brown styled baggies, afro haircut and high-heel shoes up in arms against an underrated rustic who had on him shorts made of “Teru”, a local fabric; wore ‘Kajawogbe”, the Yoruba primordial  shoes made from used tires associated with the costume village hunters usually adorn on their way to night expeditions.

 

EBUTE ERO RUMBLE

The street fight broke out after the villager had refused to pay imposed levies he considered outrageous. “In those days, it took three days to journey from Ekiti to Lagos”, said Adamson Dada who was a little boy at the time but old enough to remember the incidence.

The village boy did what was considered sacrilegious. The Lagos Agbero were like gods who ruled the streets. They imposed their own decrees on commercial vehicle owners.

The narrative claimed the Agbero boys trailed Adeleye to a guest house where drivers from outside Lagos usually relaxed for few days before returning back home.

Adeleye, the villager had just loaded his passengers and goods in the old-fashioned lorry, usually Austin or Bedford, with wooden cabins, marked “No King as God” when the Agbero who came in a bus stormed the area in large numbers.

Witnesses said Adeleye immediately sensed danger recalling his earlier confrontation with the boys. While the commuters were pleading mercy, Adeleye was said to have challenged the motley crowd shouting “Bole Kaja” in Yoruba meaning “come down and let us fight.”

He was said to have jumped from the steering and took on the 15 boys in the most fierce, deadly skirmish. At the end, about 10 of the Agbero were left prostrate while the remaining five fled.

Elderly commercial drivers who spoke to The Nation last week said the name ‘Bole Kaja’  which gained notoriety in Lagos, the entire South West and became associated with the old-time commercial lorries came from the Ebute Ero incidence in which Adeleye won a golden trophy after  humiliating a notorious gang of street musketeers.

For many decades, Lagos and the entire South West were agog with the particular brand of vehicle nicknamed Bole Kaja coined after the epic fight between Adeleye and the 15 boys.

Ariyo Ajibola, a transport union official, knew Bole Kaja intimately informing that he taught the South West extortionist Agberos bitter lessons they would never forget either through a scar left on their cheeks or a broken leg.

“If he gave you one blow, you would be taken to hospital,” Adamu Dada, a native of Ipao told The Nation.

He described Bole Kaja as an enigma, a brave man who could almost fight a lion barehanded. “He was a very decent man but would fight to defend his rights. He was strong and his blows were terrifying.”

 

50 YEARS AFTER

Bole Kaja’s boxing prowess did not manifest in Abiodun, his son, now a successful driving instructor in the United Kingdom, but his grandson caught the bug.

Last week the 23-year old Bankole David Adeleye stirred the boxing world in another blitzkrieg outing when he knocked out his highly rated heavy weight opponent, Matt Gordon in round two.

At age 7, his boxing talent was obvious to his parents who had migrated to the UK decades ago but they insisted his education was primary.

Last week, the young Adeleye whose parents hail from Ipao-Ekiti in Ikole Lo cal Government area won the heart of millions of boxing fans across the world.

He won on a knockout. Thrilled observers said he has always amazed his audience through astonishing crushing defeat of his opponents and that he is one of the top rated World boxing heavy weight champion hopeful.

The Ekiti State Government has already sent to him a congratulatory message but COVID-19 prevented many of his local folks from watching his latest fight which Adeleye won again.

He also made an impressive outing in contest with Dimitrij Kalinovskiji. His victory has always been a knockout prompting the boxing world to keep extra eyes on his spiraling career.

“The Londoner was a Junior ABA champion in 2013 and won the Senior ABA Novices in 2017 before winning the Senior ABAs the following year.

He also represented England in an international against Denmark in 2018, also winning gold at the British Universities and Colleges Sport Boxing Championships”, his promoters said.

He is currently being nursed by one of the world’s best boxing coaches, Frank Warren who had raised top heavyweights like Jonathan Palata, Nathan Gorman, Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce and the legendary world champion, Tyson Fury.

TYSON FURY ANGLE

It was no surprise that Tyson Fury singled Adeleye out recently in his preparatory fight against Wilder. Fury flew Adeleye to his Las Vegas training camp to spare with him and help him prepare for the big WBC rematch.

Jacob Olugbade, his cousin told The Nation that his parents never wanted him to go into boxing until he had at least finished his University degree.

He left the University of Wolvehampton only last year and jumped fully into the field like a hungry lion, making him one of the highly educated boxers around the world. Olugbade said the 6 ft 6 has taken after his grandfather.

A close friend of David’s father, Odeyemi, who is the Chief Image maker of Ekiti State Hunters Association  told The Nation that David visited Ipao recently  and was so excited seeing how beautiful and green his ancestral community was.

He said he even offered to follow him on a hunting expedition. “He asked to be trained as a local hunter. He loved the regalia and the rituals,” said Odeyemi.

On joining Warren promotion outfit, the young Adeleye said, “I am humbled and grateful to join such a highly-ranked promotional team, which is one of the best in the world. English boxing is at an all-time high and joining this stable now is pretty much perfect timing.”

Speaking on his student days, he said “I lived in the University halls as well and there were a lot of students partying, but I knew when to do what and I got through it.

The educational side of things I knew would only be temporary and my boxing would be a long term thing, so I got it out of the way so I could focus solely on the boxing afterwards.”



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DAVID ADELEYE : From Lagos street to London arena DAVID ADELEYE : From Lagos street to London arena Reviewed by Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah on July 19, 2020 Rating: 5

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