Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Friday kept a date with tradition as he graced the 6th Annual Governor's Belt Edition and 59th Monthly Boxing Show during which he enumerated the administration's achievements in the sporting sector and asserted that only the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be capable of sustaining and taking forward the accomplishments.
At the event which saw Master Dauda Azeez representing Lagos State emerging as the Champion and winner of the 6thAnnual Governor's Belt and 59th Monthly Boxing Show, Governor Fashola, made a personal Five Year Endowment in the sum of Two Million Naira each to ensure sustenance of the tourney from next year.
The Governor who spoke at the Sir Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere also gave a commitment that the State would support the various winners who want to turn professional in terms of sponsorship and exposure.
He stated that gradually over the years, the State has built a sports calendar that is second to none for young people across the whole of the Country, adding that from January to December, the young people of the State are doing something or the other, swimming, athletics, Principals Cup.
He stressed that the reputation of Lagos as a grassroots Sports State is not limited to boxing, but it is the Boxing tournament that is the climax and the end of the annual sporting calendar now in Lagos,
"A calendar that started in January and keeps young people busy all through the year, Next month the Ibile Games will start, in between that we will have the School- College Championships, in between that we will have the Tertiary Schools Championships etc, until we get to the Classics, back to Table-Tennis, Swimming, Lawn tennis, Beach soccer and usually we crown them with the Boxing Tournament", he stated.
The State Governor said slowly from the grassroots initiative that the Boxing tourney is, it has become National and International and very soon many Olympians that the Country will produce will be able to trace their roots to the championship.
"But year after year, the tournament has gotten bigger and better, in the process we built a club house, a gymnasium, a camp and what started as a grassroots initiative, has taken us to many parts of Nigeria as you will now see and happily too other States are joining in this initiative and I welcome those who have joined us from Ogun, I hope that next year some other States will be part of this and the torch we lit here six years ago will be gradually and slowly spread across Nigeria", the Governor stressed.
"We have assumed International dimension as well with the partnership with the Rentom Club of England which has exposed these young boys and girls to the opportunities they could only dream of many years back. I am also delighted that our Ghanaians brothers and sisters are also with us today", he added.
The Governor who thanked all the competitors for the spirit of fair play that they displayed said after the fierce exchange of blows, the boxers still hugged themselves like brothers and sisters which is the true spirit of the sports.
He also gave kudos to the Lagos State Chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association, Mr Olawale Edun and the members of the organizing committee because of what has been achieved as a team adding that very few people believed they could get this far when the journey started in 2009.
He stressed that year after year, boxing has been used as a representative of what the State believed sports can do, to bring families together, to bring young people together, to create friendship, to prepare a new generation of Nigerians for what it means to compete.
He also had words of appreciation for the sponsors who believed in the state by putting their brands at the disposal of the state as well as the managers of the various sporting facilities for keeping them in excellent conditions.
"What is also important is that all our sports facilities from Agege Stadium, to Onikan Stadium, the Rowe Park Sports Centre, to Teslim Balogun Sports Centre are now busy throughout and that is also ensuring that when we have events now, we do not have to spend too much money to repair centres that we had locked down because they are in constant use".
"Now, as you know, we have dreamt, we have followed our dreams, we have built and also like every good thing, it must come to an end. My tenure as your Governor is coming to an end in May, so this time next year somebody else will be addressing you as your Governor", he added.
He stated that as the elections approach the people with umbrella as their symbol will promise several things but that their best trademark is how to break promises.
"You know what they have done to our sports, you see the way they have destroyed our sports. if you recall in 2012, Lagos State hosted the National Sports Festival, they told us that we have to host it that year, one year after Rivers hosted it, normally we should host it every two-two years. They said they wanted to bring it back to regularity because it has fallen behind, and against all the odds, we are the only State that has hosted that tournament and plan for it in only one year, no other State has ever done it in one year".
"Now, that tournament should have taken place in 2014, in their usual way of breaking promises the date has changed, do you want them to come and manage your sports? The only man that I can trust to continue to do this is the man who is here with me today (Akinwunmi Ambode)".
"So, if you want to continue to be here next year, if you want the maintenance, the developmental programmes that we have built together to continue, which way are you going to vote?" He asked the enthusiastic audience who replied with the name of the Governor's party.
He stressed that it should not just be a vote for the Governor but a vote for all the Legislatures who will be working with the Governor to pass the budgets, adding that unlike what happens at the Federal level where only a paltry percentage is devoted to capital expenditure, Lagos has used her capital budget to build facilities and maintain such facilities.
The Governor also presented two i-pads to two teenage boxers who participated in the tournament to help in the advancement of their educational pursuits instead of cash gifts.
In his vote of assurance, the Chairman, Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame Mr. Olawale Edun, expressed his profound gratitude to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, for his support towards the success of the Championships since 2009 adding that the competition has brought a lot of young people together in Lagos State.
Noting that from next year December 26th, the Championships would now be called Babatunde Fahola Belt, he implored people to continue to support the State Amateur Boxing association.
Prominent among those who witnessed the event were the APC Governorship Flag bearer, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, member, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu, Permanent Secretary, Office of Sports, Mr. Oluseyi Whenu, Director of Sports, Lagos State Sports Council, Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh, Former member, Lagos State Boxing Association, Mr. Albert Timson, Chairperson, Lagos State Football and other Sports Supporters Club, Mrs. Gbajumo Folashade, a boxing promoter from United Kingdom, Mr. Tony Jackson and several sports lovers.