FLASHBACK: COMMON BOND BETWEEN RASHIDI YEKINI AND DICK TIGER

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

There is a correlation between late football star and Nigeria’s all-time top scorer, Rashidi Yekini and the late boxing legend, Dick Tiger.

This week marks the eighth anniversary since Yekini passed on. Dick Tiger, whose real name was Richard Ihetu, beat America’s Gene Fullmer in San Francisco to become the WBA champion in the World Middleweight category on October 23, 1962.

That was exactly a year before Yekini was born in Kaduna. Both went on to become global iconic sports personalities. Rashidi Yekini, as a player for the then IICC Shooting Stars graced the turf of the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan.

Before him, Dick Tiger retained his WBA title and won the inaugural WBC middleweight titles after beating Gene Fullmer again at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on 10 August 1963.

Both later ventured abroad to pursue their individual careers and they excelled. Dick Tiger was inducted into the International Boxing of Fame in 1991 while The Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year in 1962 and 1965.

In a similar vein, Boxing Writers Association of America BWAA) named him Fighter of the Year in 1962 and I966.

Yekini on the other hand also had international award as the African Footballer of Year in 1993.

He scored a record 37 goals for Nigeria, the last of which came in a 2-2 draw with Jamaica in a friendly match in Kingston on 22 February 1998.

It was also the last time he played the whole of 90 minutes for the Super Eagles.

Since making his international debut for Nigeria in a 1984 Olympic Games qualifier against Ghana on October 30, 1983 in Accra, he made goal scoring a habit.

Nigeria won the away game, 2-1 against regional rival, Ghana. Yekini top goal chart at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and also in the qualifying series for the 1994 where he scored Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal.