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Boxing Legend, Muhammad Ali Dies At 74.

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Legendary Boxer, Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion, one of the world’s best-known sportsmen, had been in hospital in the US city of Phoenix in Arizona state.

He had been fighting a respiratory illness, a condition that has been further complicated by Parkinson’s disease.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Nicknamed “The Greatest”, the American beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title and became the first boxer to capture a world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.

He eventually retired in 1981, having won 56 of his 61 fights.

Crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC, Ali was noted for his pre- and post-fight talk and bold fight predictions just as much as his boxing skills inside the ring.

But he was also a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and nationality.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said: “As a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer. I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.”

Ali turned professional immediately after the Rome Olympics and rose through the heavyweight ranks, delighting crowds with his showboating, shuffling feet and lightning reflexes.

British champion Henry Cooper came close to stopping Clay, as he was still known, when they met in a non-title bout in London in 1963.

Cooper floored the American with a left hook, but Clay picked himself up off the canvas and won the fight in the next round when a severe cut around Cooper’s left eye forced the Englishman to retire.

In February the following year, Clay stunned the boxing world by winning his first world heavyweight title at the age of 22.

He predicted he would beat Liston, who had never lost, but few believed he could do it.

Yet, after six stunning rounds, Liston quit on his stool, unable to cope with his brash, young opponent.
At the time of his first fight with Liston, Clay was already involved with the Nation of Islam, a religious movement whose stated goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States.

But in contrast to the inclusive approach favoured by civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King, the Nation of Islam called for separate black development and was treated by suspicion by the American public.

Ali eventually converted to Islam, ditching what he perceived was his “slave name” and becoming Cassius X and then Muhammad Ali.

In 1967, Ali took the momentous decision of opposing the US war in Vietnam, a move that was widely criticised by his fellow Americans.

He refused to be drafted into the US military and was subsequently stripped of his world title and boxing licence. He would not fight again for nearly four years.

After his conviction for refusing the draft was overturned in 1971, Ali returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history, helping restore his reputation with the public.

He was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the “Fight of the Century” in New York on 8 March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

Ali fought Frazier for a third and final time in the Philippines on 1 October 1975, coming out on top in the “Thrilla in Manila” when Frazier failed to emerge for the 15th and final round.

Six defences of his title followed before Ali lost on points to Leon Spinks in February 1978, although he regained the world title by the end of the year, avenging his defeat at the hands of the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight champion.

Ali’s career ended with one-sided defeats by Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981, many thinking he should have retired long before.

He fought a total of 61 times as a professional, losing five times and winning 37 bouts by knockout.
Soon after retiring, rumours began to circulate about the state of Ali’s health. His speech had become slurred, he shuffled and he was often drowsy.

Parkinson’s Syndrome was eventually diagnosed but Ali continued to make public appearances, receiving warm welcomes wherever he travelled.

He lit the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games in London.
BBC.

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BIG STORY

Imo Recovers ‘Looted’ Public Equipment In Okorocha’s Warehouse

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Imo State Government on Thursday said it has recovered missing Nsu ceramic and tiles industry equipment in a warehouse believed to be owned by former Governor Rochas Okorocha.

Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Simon Ebegbulem, who led a team to the warehouse located along Owerri/ Aba Road, said the equipment were stacked with other public-owned facilities.

He named a molder as one of the items which, according to him, were looted for the establishment of a private ceramic and tiles company by Okorocha, a serving senator and former chairman of the All Progressives Governors’ Forum.

The Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry in Ehime Mbano was established by the administration of the late Sam Mbakwe, the first civilian governor of old Imo State.

Ebegbulem said: “The said 55-feet by the 200-length warehouse is adjacent another warehouse where the then Emeka Ihedioha administration discovered some public properties said to be owned by the state.

”There was a time the administration of Hope Uzodimma raised the alarm on the equipment of Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industries looted by the administration of Rochas Okorocha. That was after some patriotic citizens of the state raised the alarm on these looted Imo properties kept by the Okorochas along Owerri/Aba Road.

”We followed up to find out the truth and with what we have seen in Okorocha’s warehouse; there is a plan by Okorocha to set up a ceramic factory with government-owned properties as a personal factory.

“Information we have gathered from those guarding the warehouse is that sometimes, their (Okorocha’s) people come here to pick some items and sell them off.

”However, some of the equipment we are looking for are here and we have come to take possession of the Imo properties and anybody we see here will blame himself. We have taken over the government properties for the good of Imolites based on their demands.

”Some of the public properties discovered included equipment of the Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry set up by the then government of Sam Mbakwe as the industry established for Imo people have been personalized.

”We also found street light equipment and their components, traffic light accessories, artificial tree plants were all found in the large warehouse owned by Okorocha.

“Also, a molder from the Nsu tiles and ceramics and other components of the Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry was discovered to be in the warehouse and now we have taken over.”

When contacted, Okorocha said what the government recovered were mere cartons of tiles.

”It was interesting to read that what the Commissioner said they recovered were street light accessories and cartons of ties. He didn’t even disclose how he arrived at the conclusion that those items were owned by the government,” he added in a statement by his media aide, Sam Onwuemeodo.

He challenged the government to disclose or publish the proof of ownership of all they claimed they had recovered.

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BIG STORY

My Son’s Gay Status, A Spiritual Challenge —– Doyin Okupe

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A former Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, says his son’s decision to openly declare himself a homosexual is a spiritual challenge.

Okupe said this in a series of tweets while reacting to a viral photo showing his son, Bolu, wearing rainbow boxers with the caption, Yes, I am gay”.

Okupe, who served under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, said as an evangelist, he would never accept homosexuality as it is at variance with Christian values.

He, however, said he was hopeful that God would intervene, adding that he had been aware of his son’s sexual orientation for quite some time.

The former Presidential aide tweeted, “I have been aware of this his new orientation for a while now. He knows that as a Christian and a witness for Christ (an evangelist), I am vehemently opposed to homosexuality as it runs contrary to the avowed precepts of my Christian faith.

“For me, I look beyond the surface or the physical. Here I see a major spiritual challenge ahead but I know as my God liveth, this whole saga will end up in praise to the Almighty Jehovah who I serve day and night.

“For it is written: Behold, the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is His ear dead that he cannot hear. Isaiah 59 vs 1.”

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BIG STORY

Governors Forum Distance Selves From Yahaya Bello’s Misleading Claim On COVID

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The Nigeria Governors Forum has dissociated itself from a statement by a member and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, about coronavirus conspiracy theories.

It also set up a committee of experts headed by Prof. Oyewole Tomori to advise members on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines expected to arrive in Nigeria in February.

The decision was taken after the NGF received briefings from three medical experts, including Tomori, a leading virologist and former Vice-Chancellor of the Redeemer’s University of Nigeria; Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, and the founder/Managing Director of Synlab Nigeria, Dr Pamela Ajayi, among others.

The Chairman of the NGF and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said this in a communiqué he signed after a virtual meeting of the forum on Wednesday, which was made public on Thursday.

It read in part, “Following the presentations, the Forum set up a team of experts, led by Prof. Oyewale Tomori, to advise state governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.

“The NGF Chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi, briefed State governors on a meeting with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, on the rollout of the COVAX facility, which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries. Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated the readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by the end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.

“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has indicated that vaccines will be administered in four phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, then the aged (55 years and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.

“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the Forum regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in a national daily, the Forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasizing that the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.”

The governors also agreed to do more to reactivate their health systems, open-up treatment centers, and increase partnerships with stakeholder groups in order to improve risk communication and the public’s adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

They also committed to increasing budgetary allocations to the health sector to reduce enteric infections and over 255, 000 preventable deaths in Nigeria each year.

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