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Hogan “Kid” Bassey – First Nigerian to become a world boxing champion

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Hogan “Kid” Bassey is the first Nigerian to become a world boxing champion. He achieved this feat when he defeated French Algerian Cherif Hamia in Paris on June 24, 1957 to claim the World Featherweight title

hogan-bassey-autograph

A Hogan Bassey signed autograph

Hogan “Kid” Bassey, on of five children, was born Okon Asuquo Bassey on June 3, 1932 to Chief and Mrs. Okon Bassey Asuquo in a village called Ufok Ubet in Creek Town, Calabar, Eastern Nigeria. Hogan started his elementary school education at Creek Town School, Calabar from where he left for Ahmaddiya (now Breadfruit) Primary School, Olowogbowo, Lagos, while staying with his aunt.

By 1949, Hogan Bassey joined the professional rank after distinguishing himself in the amateur cadre. His first fight was against Jack Salami who, after absorbing Hogan’s solid punches got knocked out by a ferocious punch to the head. In 1949, while he was just 18, shortly before passing out of secondary school, he became the youngest boxer to win the national flyweight title at the expense of Dick Turpin.

After winning the flyweight title, Hogan worked briefly with the Ordinance Depot in Lagos as a store keeper under a Briton called Sergeant Pearson. His boss, Hogan Bassey narrated, wanted to send him to United Kingdom to polish his boxing skills, but the idea of traveling abroad did not really appeal to him. He had resolved not to travel abroad because of the cold climate in Europe.

But much later, he changed his mind in 1951 when another Briton named Jack Fransworth paid his fare to Britain. London turned a bed of roses for the little Nigerian as he had little problem passing the British Boxing Board of Control which issued him a British boxing license to enable him fight in the United Kingdom. With the enormous challenge of professional boxing, Hogan employed a new manager, Peter Bansusco to polish him ahead of his first professional fight in Britain. Before then, the stocky boxer had graduated from the flyweight to the bantamweight class. He later moved up to the featherweight class where he won the world title in 1957 by defeating Algerian-born French National, Sherif Hamia.

He was awarded a “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE) when he was knighted by the Queen of England, Elizabeth II on January 1, 1958. He was also honoured with the Lion of Africa award in Senegal. Six years later, he was awarded Nigeria’s highest honour, the Member of the Order of Niger (MON) by the then Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.

He had 59 win bout ( 21 knockouts, 38 decisions), 13 lost bout (4 knockouts, 9 decisions) and 2 draws bout during his professional boxing career.

Hogan “Kid” Bassey later became a the National Boxing coach of Eastern Nigeria after he had to retire at 27 due to injuries sustained in his last fights (title defence, Davy Moore, March & August 1959)

He died in his home at Apapa, Lagos on January 26, 1998 after a heart ailment.

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