JAMES KALIZIBE is the founder and CEO of EVOLUTIONARY WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT (EWE). A front-line Wrestling promotion company based in Yenagoa,Bayelsa State. He spoke with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE ahead of the third edition of the championship and also shared his conversion to wresting story in this exclusive interview
Why the choice of Traditional Wrestling among all other sports?
First, let me start by saying I love Wrestling. The inspiration to support the development of it came some years back when our national football team the Super Eagles performed badly. It brought sorrow to a whole lot of Nigerians and I was not left out. I then decided it was time to concentrate on my passion and that was when I concentrated on Wrestling. More so, Wrestling is also the culture and tradition of the Ijaw people. There are lots of talents that need to be developed, so it becomes necessary for me to step in and play my role towards its development and that is why I am here today.
You mentioned earlier that the Super Eagles poor performance made you abandon football to pursue your passion, when was that precisely?
That was in 2010 precisely at the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup. Expectations were very high from the national team as it was the first ever World Cup to be hosted on an African soil. It was painful and shameful after the Super Eagles failed to go beyond the group stage, and I said to myself, it was time to let football go so I can concentrate on my passion which is wrestling.
If the Super Eagles performance improves tomorrow and they probably reach the final of the World Cup, could that take you back to Football and make you abandon Wrestling?
No way, it will not. I love Wrestling, and for me it is my passion and a business. I am into it fully now and would like to Promote and develop it. My desire to continue with the promotion of Wrestling is like a vocation and not just a profession. I want to make wrestling the centre stage in Sports entertainment, and we are gradually gaining momentum and that’s the vision of EWE.
This is your third edition, what are the challenges you have been facing since inception of this championship?
It has not been easy since EWE started this championship and we have faced several challenges. First, funding has been a major challenge. It may interest you to know that I have been financing the event since the competition started and it has not been easy. Another is acceptance. Wrestling is not well appreciated by many and at such attention is not given to it, and that is why EWE is doing everything possible to make a lot of people like and appreciate Wrestling. Then the challenge from my loved ones, it has not been easy.
You mentioned challenge faced from loved ones, what exactly do you mean by that?
What I mean is that my desire for the promotion of wrestling never got the support of my family members and friends. They saw it as an abnormal project and never believed in the EWE dream. They fought me hard and wanted me to look in another direction and that was a major setback. You know it is difficult to embark on a journey and the closest people around you don’t endorse that journey. It’s been tough. In fact, it was like a sacrilege to talk about the EWE dream whenever they are around.
What major breakthrough have you witnessed with EWE since embarking on the promotion of Wrestling?
Starting off with the project and reaching the third edition is a huge achievement for me, but the major breakthrough is that everyday people are keying into the project. Though it’s gradual, but a major breakthrough. And I pray that we get sponsors so we can comfortably fund the event and reduce the burden on me.
On a final note, what is your final word ahead of the third edition which comes up on September 1?
Preparations have been fully made ahead of the third edition which comes up on September 1, 2019. We encourage lovers of wrestling to come around to Yenagoa and watch live wrestling on that day. Its really going to be fun.
Thank you very much for making out time to chat with us
Thank you too for making out time to talk with us. We appreciate.
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