5) Efe Ajagba
For starters, Efe Ajagba was the sole Boxer Nigeria took to the Olympics, and with the country’s antecedents in the sport, it wasn’t surprising that he would generate much attention.
How did Ajagba get to the Olympics? He was the only one to have qualified out of the 10 boxers Nigeria took to the qualifying championships in Yaounde earlier in March.
Nigerian officials opined that more boxers would have qualified if not for bad officiating, adding that Ajagba qualified because he was able to knock out his opponent, which erased any room for the result to be manipulated.
Which brings us to the point of establishing that Ajagba has a history of knocking out his opponents.
By virtue of his seeding, Ajagba, who is an African Games champion and a Commonwealth Bronze medallist, drew byes in the preliminary round and only entered the competition in the second round.
Competing in the men’s +91kg Super heavyweight category, Ajagba was drawn against Trinidad & Tobago’s Nigel Paul. While many were looking forward to a three-round fight, the bout ended before it even started.
Ajagba sent Paul crashing, needing a little over a minute to knock out his opponent. It was a win most Nigerians celebrated as it panned out the way not many had envisaged.
In his quarter-final match, Ajagba came up against 2012 Olympics Bronze medallist, Ivan Dychko, but lost by points decision, with the Kazakhstan boxer taking the win by 29-28 points.
One can’t really fault Ajagba’s ouster in the quarterfinals, although many had expected him to go far. However, it should be noted that he was in Rio without his sparring partner.
Who knows, maybe Ajagba would have made the semifinals if he had all that he needed, because he was always brewing with confidence whenever he stepped on the ring. Just a little technicality was missing.