A boxer is stranded in Nigeria as it was put on the red list two days ago – halting a successful boxing career in Bolton.
Taiwo Agbaje Esepo had moved to Bolton a year ago just before the pandemic, even missing the birth of his second child.
Hungry for a title win, 29-year-old Taiwo’s visa was due to expire, so the Nigerian returned to his hometown in Lagos in early November to apply for a new one. But since Monday Nigeria has been placed on the travel red list.
This means Taiwo, who trains with Elite Gym in Halliwell, cannot compete in any upcoming boxing shows, after the professional boxer had already won two fights in England.
Once Nigeria is off the red list, the boxer will need financial support to be able to arrange travel to get back to the UK.
Alex Matvienko, guy owner, said: “Taiwo is called the people’s champion. He’s just a lad who is chasing a dream, he came here and ended up gaining a lot of friends and recognition in pro boxing in the UK and North West.
“He has had to go back for his visa and to see his baby.
“But he’s already a champion to people here, because everyone loves him.”
The boxer is so well known in Bolton, that other gyms have been asking where he is and if he is available to spar with.
Taiwo said: “I love it in Bolton, it’s my home now and I can’t wait to get back. Right now, in Lagos, I am trying to help train other boxers with Elite Gym equipment and train myself too so that I’m ready to get back in the ring.
“But I need some help, it costs a lot of money to arrange travel here and I haven’t been able to work since we have nothing here.
“Elite has done so much for me, they’ve helped me with everything, because everything I’m learning, I’m using in Lagos as well, but I need to come back and become a world champion.”
Taiwo and Alex also give special thanks to local businesses including Café Italia, Bury Financial Advisors and CBD1 for all their help in the past.
Alex added: “We would love it if as soon as Nigeria comes off the red list, people in the community can come forward to help a young man with nothing to come back and make a name for himself.”