Super middleweight boxer Oluwatosin Kejawa makes his U.K. debut by way of Nigeria, fighting at MECA in Swindon, Wiltshire, on June 4.
Saturday, June 4, is a big day for Olutwaosin Kejawa as he makes his United Kingdom fighting debut at MECA in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. He has traveled more than 4,300 miles in pursuit of his boxing dreams.
Kejawa is a 20-year-old super middleweight from Lagos, Nigeria. He’s a two-time Nigerian National Champion with a professional record of 4-0, with all of his wins coming by knockout.
Kejawa has all the intangibles desired in a successful budding pro boxer. He’s manifesting his destiny, and he’s doing it against substantial obstacles.
Lagos, Nigeria, is where Kejawa calls home. Lagos is the second-largest city in Africa, with a metropolitan population of 23.5 million.
If you do a quick search on Wikipedia, Lagos reads like it is heading in the right direction. It has a large, growing economy and a high cost of living.
However, its rosy economic description on the web doesn’t tell the whole story.
Like most large cities, Lagos has areas of wealth and poverty. According to a survey by mercer.com, Lagos is rated 212 out of 231 cities in terms of quality of life. Many parts that are impoverished lack electricity and plumbing.
Kejawa is from a part of Lagos called Bariga, which leans towards the second category.
“It’s very hard in Lagos, you know,” Kejawa said to FanSided. “I live in one of the most notorious area in Lagos is Bariga. Bariga is really lost-cause people. Killing, stealing, robbery, you know, that kind of stuff. It’s really hard out there.”
Type in “worst areas of Lagos, Nigeria” into Google, and you’ll see that Kejawa isn’t exaggerating. Bariga consistently comes up as one of the most treacherous neighborhoods in Lagos.
According to Kejawa, boxing is very popular in Lagos. Boxing is a working-class sport that affords the poor a chance to fight their way to the top.
Few achieve champion status as a pro, but it is a dream that helps keep hope alive in millions of young hearts and minds worldwide. If you have two fists that deliver a pop, you can make a living.
Nigerian boxers like Dick Tiger, Samuel Peter, Ike Ibeabuchi, and others found success and fame. Sports athletes are often idolized by youths and inspire many to attempt to follow in their footsteps.
Kejawa was lured by the fighters he saw training in the streets to give boxing a try at the age of eight, but his parents didn’t like the idea. They were afraid he would use the skills he learned for delinquent behaviors.
Oluwatosin Kejawa fights Lewis van Poetsch in MECA in Swindon, England, on June 4
“They don’t want me to join it,” Kejawa said. “I wanted to do boxing, or I pay them. I beg them. I promise them I won’t be a bad boy, this and that. They give me a try. It was on from there, you know.”
Kejawa wore his parents down and received their permission to train as a boxer. He stayed true to his initial promise and remained on the straight and narrow while dedicating his time and energy to improving his boxing skills.
Kejawa had a prosperous amateur career in Nigeria, winning their national tournament twice. The next step for Kejawa was to turn professional.
He’s early into his career, having turned pro in 2021, but he has been active and victorious.
Despite his wins, Kejawa wanted to branch out from Nigeria to prove he’s a world-class boxer while spreading his popularity. Kejawa used social media to promote himself and in the hopes of securing a fight abroad.
He did something right because he grew a following of 11,800 on Instagram. He caught the eye of an investor he didn’t name, who contacted him through social media.
Kejawa’s new fan liked what they saw on social media and wanted to bring him to the U.K. to fight.
“I met someone on Instagram,” Kejawa said. “They like my talents. Said they want to invest in me. Give me a try.”
Kejawa’s investor got him into England with a place to stay and a new gym to train at. Training in England is very different from Nigeria. In England, kejawa trains inside with lots of equipment, while in Nigeria he was on a dirt road with little else.
“I train on the street, you know,” kejawa said. “I train on the street of Bariga.”
Kejawa added, “You have bag punching bag [in Nigeria]. Then gloves. That’s it.”
There is one part of England that Kejawa isn’t fond of.
“It might be cold now,” Kejawa said. “In the next few minutes, raining. The next minute be hot. It’s also cold, you know.”
Cold and unpredictable weather aside, Kejawa is excited to show U.K. audiences who he is. He fights Lewis van Poetsch for his first contest outside of Nigeria.
An impressive win could yield Kejawa bigger and better opportunities. He’s using his fists to punch up his dreams.
As long as he wins, Kejawa’s world title ambitions live on.