Boxer Taiwo Agbaje, popularly known as Esepo, talks about his love life, favourite designers, Afro beats and his experience during his short sojourn in the United Kingdom recently, in this interview with EBENEZER BAJELA
When did you start boxing?
I started boxing when I was five years of age. I started by training with my brother.
Were your parents in support of you being a boxer?
Yes. Both my mum and dad were in support of it and they wanted me to do it and become a professional boxer. Like I said, I started training with my brother and my mum would take me there for practice before she died.
Among other sports, why did you choose boxing?
I chose boxing because it is what I love doing and I enjoy it. One thing many people don’t understand is the fact that if you are into something just for the money and not because you enjoy doing it, it won’t last because at a point you will lose interest. I can never get tired of being a boxer no matter the situation because I derive joy in it. Another drive is the fact that always I see myself becoming a world champion.
Who is your role model in boxing?
That is the great ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. As far as I’m concerned he is the greatest boxer of all time and I hope to be like him and probably be far better than him. And I don’t think that’s impossible to achieve.
In Nigeria, people tend to view boxers as touts. How does your wife see you?
I will like to quickly emphasize that boxers are not touts and my wife never sees me as one. She always prays for me to keep winning. It is only in this country that people have the belief or the notion that boxers are touts but that’s not true and also unfair to our profession. Let’s look at Anthony Joshua; if he was in Nigeria will they regard him as a tout? He makes millions of dollars fighting but because things are not done properly here we are tagged wrongly. You won’t see me fight on the streets except in the ring and that’s what differentiates those of us who are professional boxers from touts.
Where did you meet your wife?
We met in my area in Mushin, Lagos in 2017. We live on the same street. I approached her the normal way a gentle guy would approach a lady and I shared my feelings with her. I told her exactly how I felt and she saw the affection and sincerity in me and she accepted to be my girlfriend.
When did you both get married?
We got married two years after our courtship in 2019. We are blessed with two boys at the moment. Jubril and Alex are their names.
Do you know how to cook?
Yes. I can cook and it is something I really enjoy doing after boxing. For me, cooking is my second hobby.
What is your favourite food?
I like Eba and Ewedu with stew a lot.
What kind of music do you like?
I like Afro beats music a lot. It’s something I have been listening to since I was a kid.
What is your favourite musician?
Currently, I will say Wizkid the one popularly known as the Star Boy.
What’s your favourite car?
While most celebrities and sportspersons will go for some flashy cars, I like Toyota products a lot.
How did you spend your Christmas?
My Christmas was good and well spent because I celebrated it with my family and friends. It was really fun.
How do you relax when not working or boxing?
It’s either I listen to music or play Play Station 4
How many tattoos do you have?
(Laughs) I have more than 10 tattoos on me. I love tattoos because it’s part of what motivates me.
What’s your favourite designer?
I like Phillipp Plein and Nike.
You went to the UK recently. What was the experience like?
It was a great experience over there. I learnt new things and it also made me realise that we are still way behind the developed countries. I think it’s time our leaders had the interest of the youths at heart and start giving us the simple infrastructures that we need to be a better people.
What were the new things you learnt in the UK?
I trained with some new gym equipment which helped improve my boxing skills. Even while I was training to be a better boxer I also had the opportunity to learn how to coach. I learnt a whole lot of things and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had.
What were the challenges you had over there?
I had some challenges with my agent over there. The agent who took me to the Uk was trying to use me for something else. And my entire plan was just to be the world champion.
Asides from boxing, what other things did you do over there?
I did some other jobs to feed myself and pay my bills. But most of the time, I took boxing classes, and I got paid for that.
What kind of jobs did you do?
Catering, washing plates and cleaning in a restaurant. I basically worked in one Asian restaurant. I’m a very good cook but not allowed to cook at the restaurant. It was something that I wished I did there but all I was allowed to do was to clean and wash dishes.