Five-time World Boxing Champion, Evander Holyfield, at the weekend visited Badagry, Lagos State, seeking to reconnect with his African roots as well as explore prospects of investing in the country’s rich tourism industry.
The Alabama, U.S.-born retired pugilist, who believes he is of African descent, was in the historic town at the invitation of a former Senior Special Adviser to the Badagry Local Government Council, Yomi Ajose.
As part of his itinerary, Mr. Holyfield, who visited the palace of the traditional ruler of Badagry town, the Akran of Badagry, Wheno Aholu Meno Toyi I, to pay homage, said he was visiting the ancient town, noted for its history as host to one of the ports use by colonial traders to gather slaves before shipping them abroad, as part of his first leg of efforts to trace his African roots.
“I am happy to be in Badagry,” he said. “I am glad to see His Royal Majesty, the Akran of Badagry and to also reconnect and re-unite with my ancestral land,” he said.
The boxer is said to be one of the off-springs of blacks in the Diaspora, who were taken into slavery during the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century.
While receiving Mr. Holyfield, the Akran of Badagry said he was happy to play host to the former world boxing champion.
“I am happy to have you in the ancient town of Badagry and I want to tell you that you have a lot of investment opportunities in Badagry to promote tourism,” he said.
NAN reports that after the visit to the traditional ruler, Mr. Holyfield, who was in the company of Alfred Dickson, an associate of the late pop star musician, Michael Jackson’s brother, Marlon, went on a boat cruise along Badagry waterways to have a first-hand feel of possible areas of investment.
Mr. Marlon has been in the country for some time to explore investment opportunities in Gberefun town which has the “Point of No Return, the last gate from where slaves were shipped abroad during the days of slavery.
Other personalities who were at the Akran’s palace to receive Mr. Holyfield were Ijinla Afolabi, the President and Founder of Center for Heritage Preservation and Olaide Osoba, the Proprietor of 02 Bar, Marina.
Mr. Holyfield, who was born on October 19, 1962, won bronze medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics before going professional. In 1990, he became Heavyweight Champion of the World when he defeated James “Buster” Douglas.