Prizefighter champion set for return to Nigeria to visit family graves for the first time

18:00 15 November 2012

Larry Ekundayo (right) won Prizefighter two weeks ago and is not set to visit his native Nigeria. Pic: Lawrence Lustig

Larry Ekundayo (right) won Prizefighter two weeks ago and is not set to visit his native Nigeria. Pic: Lawrence Lustig

LAWRENCE LUSTIG

Larry Ekundayo will take a short break from boxing

Larry Ekundayo has waited a long time for his chance to shine as a professional – but boxing is set to take a back seat as he prepares for an emotional return to his native Nigeria.

In front of a packed York Hall and a live television audience, the Hackney fighter seized the opportunity two weeks ago to become the Prizefighter light-middleweight champion.

Now, after finally resolving a 10-year long immigration struggle following his representation of Nigeria in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Ekundayo has his sights set on a bright future – after he addresses his past.

“Now I have my passport back, I’m going to Nigeria to visit my mum and my brothers’ graves,” said the Stoke Newington man, who has been unable to do so until now.

“It’s been a long time – too long.”

Labelled as the best kept secret in boxing by his promoter Spencer Fearon, the secret is now out as Ekundayo stylishly navigated his way through three opponents on the same night to lift the Prizefighter trophy.

Ekundayo recorded a third-round stoppage in the final against Terry Carruthers – after previously beating Craig McEwan and Kris Carslaw – and a £2,000 bonus for doing so.

The 30-year-old was then left to soak up the win.

“It’s hard to describe the moment. It was just the must beautiful feeling,” he said.

“When I couldn’t do anything I had no motivation to train. But my family and friends supported me and now you can see the difference from what I’ve done in Prizefighter.”

The tournament triumph extended his professional record to five wins out of five and Ekundayo now hopes to kick on after the years of exile left him unable to turn professional until the age of 29.

“Even though I’m 30 now I’ve lived a good life,” he added. “I don’t go clubbing, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t take drugs.

“Maybe I eat too much! As a boxer that’s my only bad habit!

“Right now though, going back home to Nigeria is going to be a bit emotional so I’ll need a bit of time before I can focus on boxing again.

“I’ll leave it to my team who I will fight next. I need to feed my family so I have to work hard.

“Whatever opportunity comes along I will take it.”

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