In this exclusive interview in Lagos, Bash Ali, took Dalung to the cleaners, while calling on President Buhari to relieve him of his ministerial positions.
They are two sports personalities who had a common interest before the bubble burst and thereafter fell apart.
Both Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and acclaimed World Boxing Federation Cruiserweight champion, Bash Ali initially collaborated for Ali’s project, The Guinness Book of Record to become the oldest boxing champion. The relationship was smooth until irreconcilable differences forced both of them to part ways.
In this exclusive interview in Lagos, Bash Ali, while responding to the recent statement by the minister that the Federal Government had no part to play in the Guinness Book project, took Dalung to the cleaners, while equally calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve him of his ministerial positions.
Sir, in what capacity are you eying a Guinness record?
I’m the current World Boxing Federation Cruiserweight champion by a court decision in California, where the Superior court when the WBF was instructed that I can never lose my title unless inside the ring.
If you remember, on September 9th, 2000, when I fought Terry Ray, I knocked him out to become the world champions and they asked me to give him a return match, but I say no because I had a bigger offer to fight another contender in Canada, then the WBF stripped me of my title. We went to court and I was reinstated and I was given some certain money and wages. I was rewarded $5 million in damages. They paid me $2.1 million in loss of wages and other $5 million in damages. They paid the $2.1m and appealed the $5m. As am talking to you the $5m has gone up to $23m and as at two months ago, they offered me $2million, so they can get back the World body federation. But I have refused. Right now, I’ve the receivership to the World boxing federation. In the next two or three months, I am going to completely take over the WBF and become the Chairman and President. So, I’m the current World Boxing Federation champion. Unless I get beaten inside the ring, I remain the champion.
Let’s go back to your Guinness Book fight. What has been happening?
As you know, President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated Local Organising Committee on November 9, 2006, when Bala Kaoje was the minister then. Then again, on January 7, 2014 by Bolaji Abdullahi, when Goodluck Jonathan was the president. So I have been inaugurated twice, which means the Federal Government had to do two inaugurations for one project. And since it has witnessed unnecessary obstacle because of corruption. We should be able to do the right thing in Nigeria and get the right result. I have refused to dance to the tune of the criminals.
Out of all the ministers, the only one that was really committed is Bala Kaoje. He did the first inauguration and never asked for one kobo, he just wanted the success of the project. Unfortunately, his time was short-lived. When late Yar’Adua was elected, the second inauguration was done in 2014, and I asked that Kaoje be made the LOC chairman, but unfortunately, Bolaji Abdullahi, the former Minister of Sports made sure what they inaugurated they frustrated. And then Solomon Dalung came in, and it became worse. But we are working hard to make sure this fight happen in Nigeria. I will remain on my stand. Now what is happening is very simple. Before Dalung came in as the new minister, I wrote a letter to President Muhammed Buhari in June 2015 to congratulate him and to tell him all what has happened. Buhari replied and said approved again. Then he sent it to the National Sports Commission to advise him on how to successfully execute the project.
That memo was sent on August 12, 2015 and then, there was no minister and Chief of staff. As soon as Dalung came in the problem started. Firstly, it took them about eight or nine months before they found my file. All they needed do is to update the memo sent by the former DG, Yakmut Alhassan. Meanwhile, he kept wasting my time. They claimed they wrote a memo to Buhari and I asked them what memo? There is memo already, but they didn’t do that. There was a big problem. I called several press conferences, asking that they should resign, I sent several messages to Buhari and also wrote him letters. Finally, the former Deputy governor of Plateau State called us and made peace between Dalung and I.
The letter was then written to Buhari, stating that this fight is going to hold in Nigeria, that he need to guarantee the safety of over 200 members coming to Nigeria to be part of boxing history.
Number two, that they should release the approval money, which is $1 million. Three days later, Dalung replied that letter, on behalf of Buhari that Nigeria is safe and that they will facilitate the release of that money. This was in 2016, Up till now, nothing has happened and Buhari is there in the office, he doesn’t know what is going on at the Ministry of Sports. The same minister sanctioned the appointment of a consultant for the fight and I refused. But after several pressures, I agreed. I have evidence to show to the press and to Mr. President.
After I signed the agreement, Dalung was very happy. Then he was in Brazil for the World Cup; he called me and wanted to know about the money in the Central Bank. I said the money is still there and he said okay that once he comes, he would facilitate the release. When he came, the consultants said we are going to share the pay per view money that I will give them 50 percent of it, but I disagreed. When Jonathan was the president, he invited the Americans to come to Nigeria. They agreed that 30 percent of the money will go to the Federal Government of Nigeria and this is where we will stand. I went to Dalung and told him what the consultants were demanding and he said he doesn’t know them. I told him that we should do a sting operation, that we should have a meeting with them and arrest everybody. He said it’s not necessary that I should go and sought out issue with them. I refused to give them 50 percent and nothing happen. And since then, he has not done anything. Meanwhile he’s wasting my life and time. Then I said to Dalung, if you are not going to do this thing, please let me know. He said okay. He then wrote a memo to the president, which was treated by the Chief of Staff, which says I should go and solicit for private investors for this fight.
So, Solomon now called for a meeting with NEXIM Bank and Bank of Industry, the banks that were brought in by the Federal Government of Nigeria. I reminded him that these banks have been with us all along before and the money is domicile with them. He told me he’s working, that he’s doing all these things on his own. Then the consultant now came back to me again and said ‘you can see that Solomon is trying to raise the money for you and you should agreed on 50 percent. I told they are all jokers.
Dalung never released any money. So this is the fall out now. I told them the only thing we’ll do is to agree with the Federal Government. After that, Dalung went to my office at the National Stadium and removed everything. As am talking to you I don’t know where my world championship belts are. All the documents, some of the approval from president, Dalung threw them away. The last time I went to his office was February 13 2006. I went there to show him the deadline from the IBU, instead of that, he welcomed some special visitor and after we had waited for four hours. I went to his SA to protest, the next thing is I was hit with the gun at the back of my head, I collapsed and I was taken to the hospital for treatment, I spent two days. Till now Dalung has never said sorry because he was upset.
We went to court and he lost. They told him to pay N20 million to me and N2 million to the lawyer. He hasn’t paid; he’s trying to make the lawyer beg me so as to reunite. I told him, No. He must go to court and pay what they told him to pay. Instead of that, he now wrote a letter saying that the ministry is not in charge of boxing and that I should contact the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C). A man, who has met with NEXIM Bank, a man who has written letters on behalf of President Buhari to the International Boxing Union, guaranteeing the safety of over 200 people outside the country coming to Nigeria, also saying that he will facilitate the money domicile at Central Bank, he has made a detour to say he’s not in charge of boxing, that I should contact the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Boxing Board of Control was one of the LOC members that were inaugurated by Federal Government. This country will never move forward unless we have the right people in the right places.
Dalung has done everything to frustrate this fight; he has refused to pay the money the court asked him to pay. All I want is to win and bring glory to Nigeria my country. Every person that had made the Guinness record fought in their country. George Foreman fought in America, Joe Burgner fought in Australia. I want it to be in Nigeria because, the country will provide a referee, the America will do same and there is going to be a neutral referee from outside, so that it would be balanced. I want to win this fight so that it won’t be a wasteful exercise.
I was offered 45 million Euros to fight in Germany and I refused. I want to fight in my country, Nigeria and it’s very important.
Recently, the minister said there was no money domiciled with the CBN, how true is this information?
Solomon Dalung is playing to the gallery. I have documents. He wrote that he was going to facilitate the quick release of money domicile with the CBN. Again, Dalung has met with various banks and all he wanted to know is about the money and they gave him the information. Why didn’t he make members of the LOC meet with the NEXIM Bank and Bank of Industry? Is he
the fighter? Does he know anything about what we are doing? No. He has confiscated most of the documents. When I meet with President Buhari, I am going to explain everything to him.
Why is the fight taking so long to happen, almost about 12 years?
This fight is taking so long because I have refused to dance to the tune of those who want to benefit from the money. If I had agreed for their terms, this fight would have happened since and I would have had several defences, but I refused because I want to kill corruption before it kills us.
My goal after boxing is to become the president of Nigeria and the only way to do this is to have a record. Yes money is good, but right now, let’s do the right thing and make the right money. The fight would be held on a clean slate.
You said you want to meet with the president, how soon can this happen and do you think you have access to him?
I have met with Tinubu and I am going to meet with him again soon. Later, I am going to meet the president and he will know what’s going on and what they have done on his behalf and wait to see his reaction because I know him to be a corrupt free president.
On January 7, 2014, when the LOC was inaugurated, the Chief of Staff to the president is a member of the LOC and up till today, he didn’t know because they have not let him know and this is why they now said we should solicit for fund from the private sector. The government has provided the enabling environment and has put together a beautiful team.
The post Why my Guinness Record fight is stalled, 12 years after – Bash Ali appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.