You recently returned from Libya, why did you go to the North African country in the first place?
First, I want to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for bringing me back to Nigeria in one piece.
I went to Libya to meet with a brother and leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi to help me promote my fight for the Guinness World Record in Libya, because the same Federal Government of Nigeria that inaugurated the LOC for the fight has done everything possible to frustrate the fight because of corruption. They wanted 5 million US dollars from the fight purse, once the funds were released otherwise the fight would not happen. So I went to Libya for help.
Gaddafi gave me red carpet treatment from the Airport in Tripoli to the hotel. He put me in a 5 star hotel in Tripoli called Al Wahat Hotel. He gave me two body guards and made me feel like a true champion.
Former President Obasanjo knows about it, late President Yar’Adua knew about it, President Jonathan knows about it, former President Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon know about it too. Senate President David Mark and House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole both knew about it among others and still no solution.
Can you relate your experience in Libya?
Libya is a beautiful place and Gaddafi is a great leader. He made sure that all Libyans benefited from their oil money. Healthcare is free, education is free, food is the cheapest thing in Libya and above all, he told his people that it is only slaves that work, so most Libyans do not work. It is the Egyptians, Tunisians and other nationals that work while the Libyans enjoy. Nobody has accused Gaddafi of corruption. The people say they want to be free. They want to drink, party, go to night clubs, visit whore houses – just go crazy without paying for it. They are tired of being caged.
Like I said earlier, Gaddafi is a great leader but he surrounded himself with a bunch of bad advisers. He loves everything Africa. I met him on February 14th and we talked for about 15 mins before he agreed to sponsor my fight. He told me to give all the fight benefits to Nigeria and that all he wants is for the fight to hold on the continent of Africa instead of it going to the western world. I was supposed to meet him again on February 17th for the photo and video shoot for the fight promo and the release of the money, before trouble started on February 15th and the rest is history.
I feel bad about it but I guess Almighty God wants the historic fight to hold in Nigeria. I wish him the best and I hope he survives the biggest challenge of his life.
How did you ‘escape’ in the wake of the crisis in Libya?
Trouble started on February 15th and everything just went upside down. I was holed up in my hotel room from the 15th to Friday February 25th, when I was able to escape to the Airport. On the way to the airport, there were soldiers searching people, with all their belongings scattered everywhere. They were taking people’s sim cards and memory cards from their phones because they did not want anyone to get internal information to the outside world and from February 15th till the day I left for the Airport, there was no internet service.
I was very lucky on February 20th when internet service was restored and that was when I quickly sent an SOS e-mail to all my friends around the world to tell the Nigerian Federal Government that I was in big trouble in Libya and that they should come and get me. I was not disturbed on my way to the Airport because I had the T-shirts I made for Gadaffi with me so I showed it as a proof that I was on their side, that I was Gadaffi’s pal. I finally got to the airport around 2pm and waited in line till about 5pm.
When I called the Consular-General who told me that there will be no flight to Nigeria until the next day, I felt bad because it was going to be a long day for me. But I was happy that at least, I was on my way back home to Nigeria. I was at the Airport till Sunday when the flight brought us back to Nigeria at 10pm. As soon as I got off the flight, I kissed the ground and felt happy to be back again in corrupt Nigeria because, there is no place like home. I intend to write a book about what I saw at the Airport from February 25th to 27th. It was hell. I saw man’s inhumanity to man, when the Libyans were beating the Egyptians with sticks and bull-whipping people as if they were animals. I saw how they forced them to go out in the rain in the cold weather that was 5 degrees below zero. That day, I was ashamed to be a human being.
What has now happened to your proposed world title fight which is yet to hold?
Corruption is delaying it but it must hold whether these crooks like it or not. Mark my word.
What happened between you and former President Obasanjo over the proposed fight?
He forgot to keep his promise to me. I was with him right before I left for Libya and he made the same promise to look into the matter with President Jonathan but I’m sure he forgot.
Is your plan to be the oldest boxing champion still feasible?
I want to do something that no man has ever done. I was born on February 27, 1956. I was 55 on Sunday February 27, the day I was brought back home from Libya. I am an extraordinary human being. I am going to fight till I am 60 years old, retire with a lot of money, and go on to be the President of Nigeria. Mark my word!
What are your plans having returned to Nigeria lately?
I have been talking to President Jonathan’s people on how to workout a way for this historic fight to hold in Nigeria.
When and how did you start your boxing career?
I started my boxing career in California, USA in September 1978. I never fought as an amateur. My very first fight was for money. I won it but was robbed of the decision because I fought the hometown boy but I later beat him in rematch two years later. I am the only boxer in the world to win every cruiser weight title conceivable. I have won the California title, United States Boxing Association title, North America Boxing Federation title, World Boxing International title twice and the current World Boxing Federation title which I won on September 9, 2000 when I knocked out the then champion, Terry Ray of USA. I have had a great boxing life and I am still having fun.
Does Bash Ali have any mentor?
My mentor is the great boxing legend, Muhammad Ali.
Did your parents support your boxing career?
My dad died when I was 6 years old so I never got to know him. I left Nigeria for America in 1974 when I was 17 years old so, my mom did not know I was boxing until I won the world title in 1987. She died on March 18, 1996. She never wanted me to continue as a boxer but later, she had no choice than to support me. I am very happy that I made money while my mom was alive and I had the chance to take great care of her. She was a nurse assistant and had two cars for her work. She worked because she wanted to, not because she lacked anything.
Which fight would you describe as your toughest?
It was in 1993, I was fighting a boxer who could not even break an egg. I was way ahead in the fight then I started talking to him. He hit me in my jaw and broke it in the second round and that was how I fought all the way to the 10th round and won the fight. I will never forget it and it was a fight that was supposed to be the easiest for me. But that’s life.
How is life generally and what are you into aside boxing?
Nothing but boxing. It is the only job I have ever done. I know nothing else and this is why I want to set the Guinness world record, rewrite boxing history before I retire so I can live forever!
Your personality attracts women, how do you relate with them?
I was raised by two great women, my mom and my sister. I respect women too much because they are great people. Any man who mistreats a woman is not fit to live.
You have chosen to remain unmarried till now. Are you planning to wed? If not, why?
I hate this world and wish I was never born but I have no choice than to remain here and make the best of my life until I drop dead. Life is a tragedy. People are wicked and what I saw the Libyans do to the Egyptians confirms my hatred for this horrible world. So this is why I want to set the Guiness World Record so that when I die, I will be remembered for something.
What would you have been if not a boxer?
Good question. I would have loved to be a singer. I am a bathroom singer.>
Which other sport(s) do you love or engage in?
I love playing table tennis.
What can you do in your capacity to assist boxing (and upcoming boxers) in Nigeria?
I have been promoting professional boxing and wrestling since 1987 till date. I also intend to have sports academies all over Nigeria because every Nigerian athlete is a potential world champion but lacks the venue to exhibit his or her talents.
What is your best food, drink and music.
My best food is beans and pap and my best drink is Coke. I love all kinds of music depending on my mood.
How do you relax generally?
Listening to music and daydreaming.
Can you tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I can tell you that I am as soft as butter outside the boxing ring.
What’s your message to your numerous fans at this point?
It is not over until I die. The Guiness World Record fight must hold, so they should look out for it. I also want to thank them for their prayers while I was stuck in Libya.
Thanks so much Bash Ali for speaking to us.
Regards and God bless.