NIGERIA boxing chiefs have claimed Anthony Joshua was keen to represent them at Beijing 2008 but was told ‘he wasn’t good enough’.
AJ was born in Watford to Nigerian parents in 1989 and spent some of his early years in the West African country.
He returned to Hertfordshire halfway through Year 7 and went on to win Olympic gold for Britain in 2012.
But ahead of last night’s heavyweight blockbuster against Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley, it was claimed he wanted to represent the country of his mum and dad.
Nigerian boxing legend Jeremiah Okorodudu, speaking at the National Stadium in Lagos, told SunSport: “Joshua was in Nigeria once to connect with his roots and I think that was in 2007.
“He wanted a chance to compete for trials ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifiers, but he was denied and not given a chance.
“Disappointed, he went back to England to represent Great Britain.
“He went on to win a gold that could have been a first for Nigeria at the Olympics.
“If only they had allowed him to compete for Nigeria, that gold would have been a Nigerian gold and not Great Britain’s.”
Joshua, 27, went into the London Games as a world silver medallist and in the final he won Olympic gold against reigning champion Roberto Cammarelle on a countback — after tying 18-18 on points.
Nigeria’s national boxing instructor Adegboyega Adeniji-Adele was visibly upset when he recalled the situation with AJ.
He declared that those responsible for the loss of Joshua to Team GB should be investigated.
Adeniji-Adele explained: “Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua is his name and his family come from Ogun State in Nigeria. When he visited, his intention was to represent Nigeria at the Olympics but he was denied in the trials.
“He had no other option than to go to Britain.
“It’s Nigeria’s loss, Britain’s gain.
“Personally, I feel sad that they let him go and those people should be made to explain why it was impossible to give him a chance.”
Nigeria decided Anthony Joshua was not good enough to try for a chance in 2008
Ex-Commonwealth and African light-welterweight champion Obisia Nwankpa, now a top boxing official in the country, insists Joshua was just not good enough and the boxer picked ahead of him was better.
He added: “We made the right call then, because he wasn’t good enough and we picked someone who was much better.”