Ikemefula Charles Ibeabuchi is a Nigerian citizen of the Igbo Tribe, born February 2nd, 1973, in Okigwe, at Okigwe General Hospital, to Mr. Stephen and Patricia Ibeabuchi. A heavyweight all his life, Ike weighed 11 lbs. at the time of birth.
Although he’s the first son, Ike is the second child of Mr. and Mrs. Ibeabuchi, who had two sons after Ike’s birth, four children in all.
Due to the nature of Stephen’s job, the family was able to move around from one country to another. One of those movements landed them in Ghana (another West African country), where Ike began his kindergarten education. After a couple of years in Ghana, the family was back home in Nigeria.
Ike began his primary school at Housing Estate Primary School Aladinma Owerri, in the capital city of Imo-State Nigeria. By 1977-1978, rumour had it that Ike was an agile and active pupil who indulged other students in wrestling and soccer sports. He was a bright student and always told his mates of his dreams of becoming a medical doctor. In fact, since his mother was a registered nurse, he desired to become a doctor so that he and his mother could work together.
After his graduation at Aladinma Primary School, he proceeded to Emmanuel College Owerri. He majored in sciences, in order to accomplish his aspirations in the medical field.
By mid 1989, Ike had graduated from high school and with a swift change of heart decided to enroll in the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) as a cadet studying electrical engineering. He passed all of the rigorous tests required for admission, yet fate was against him as he was not selected.
With time passing him quickly, he contemplated on reapplying the next year. There was no interest whatsoever about becoming a pugilist. Of course, Mike Tyson had this monstrous image of indomitability. As Ike awaited yet another chance at N.D.A., history was on its way to unfolding.
The year was 1990, and the place was Tokyo, Japan. As Tyson takes on an unknown Buster Douglas. The odds were 40-1, in favor of Tyson. In fact, no person in his right mind would dare bet on Douglas. It was all sympathy for Mr. Douglas who was just another foe for monstrous Mike Tyson. That very day, as Ike and his uncle (a civil engineer), Young Vincent Oleka, watched the live broadcast at his uncle’s home, the unthinkable happened—Tyson was knocked out by Douglas in the 10th round. Ike heard his calling: “If Tyson can be beat, anybody can be world champion”.
With his hopes of entering N.D.A. and studying medicine dashed hitherto, Ike made a commitment to become a world champion. Two days after the fight as he rode in a car with his uncle, his uncle said to him, “if I were younger, I would become a boxer”, not knowing that Ike had already decided on that also.
In short, it wasn’t long after Ike made this commitment that he started winning tournaments at the local level. There were adversaries, of course, some who felt that Ike didn’t stand a chance at the world level. However, advancing from the local contests, Ike became the Imo-State Super Heavyweight Champion and went on to the national level, representing Nigeria at different international meets, amongst which was the China Invitational, in Shantou, where Ike was the only Nigerian to win a gold medal for his country.
By 1993, Ike had represented Nigeria four times, making him not only a national champion, but an Olympic medal hopeful. In fact, Duncan Dokiwari, who subsequently won the 1996 Olympic Bronze Medal, was Ike’s last match in Nigeria.
After the victory, again, Ike would decide a change in direction. His connections in the USA included his mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. He, indeed, though that it would be better to come to the United States and get acclimatized, while training with so much better equipment. And as America would host the next Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, he could then compete and represent his country, Nigeria.
In America, after his arrival in the summer of 1993, he met Curtis Coke, a former World Welter Weight Champion, who trained both amateurs and professionals at Anita Martinez Recreational Center in Dallas, Texas. It was a union made in heaven, as Curtis would volunteer to train Ike after watching him workout just for one session. Curtis would ask for no payment as he believed he had himself a championship pupil. So he orchestrated a plan to lead his new import. First, he would help Ike extend his visiting visa. Second, he would have Ike compete locally in the Dallas region of the Police Athletic League (PAL) and other tournaments then get ready for the Dallas Golden Gloves. Third, he would train Ike through the series of bouts leading to his winning the Texas Golden Gloves, as well as the National Golden Gloves, which was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fourth and finally, he asked if Ike wanted to turn professional, of which was met with an overwhelming yes. Of course, Curtis knew that Ike’s fighting style would be more suitable in the professional ranks than in the amateur ranks, and he knew that Ike was ready to turn professional because whenever he put Ike up to spar with his heavyweight pros, Ike always held his own ground, as Curtis recalled in one interview with Ring Magazine:
“I used to have him boxing with Kirk Johnson [the undefeated heavyweight prospect whom Curtis Coke once trained], and Kirk would bust him up. But the very next day Ike would come back to the gym and, as inexperienced as he was, bust Johnson up. He just gets better and better and better. Anybody that underestimates him is a fool. I tried to keep him a secret as long as I could, but after beating Tua, the secret is out. Everybody knows how good he is now”.
(Mladinich, R. (1997), p. 24)
Curtis watched as his plan unfolded effectively. Within six months, Ike swept all the trophies and gold medals in the tournaments and became the 1993 Boys and Girls Club Champion; the Dallas Golden Gloves Champion; and the 1994 Texas Golden Gloves Champion. Ike Ibeabuchi went on to win the Dallas Regional Golden Gloves Title and the Texas Golden Gloves Championship. Thereafter, Ike’s big opportunity to demonstrate his boxing talents on a professional level came. He received rave reviews:
“The President turned pro in October of that year and has been busy ever since. He began by making quick work of the standard NON-ENTITIES on the Texas and Louisiana circuits, scoring eight knockouts in his first 10 fights. He started to create a bite of a buzz by appearing regularly as a preliminary fighter on KUSHNER’S HEAVYWEIGHT EXPLOSION series. Although he certainly was not fighting anyone capable of seriously testing him, he was garnering valuable television exposure and developing an even greater confidence about himself”.
(Mladinich, R. (1997), p. 24).
With two fights left at the National Championships in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Ike was robbed of a fight. It was declared a split decision in favor of one of Ike’s opponents from Chicago, Illinois, who could not continue to the next contest, due to injuries suffered at the hands of Ike. All of this confirmed Curtis’ insight that the professional ranks would be best for Ike. Without much ado, Ike turned professional on the 13th of October, 1994.
KO MAGAZINE interviewed Ike Ibeabuchi:
KO: Where did the nickname “The President” originate?
II: The nickname started from the amateur days, I think. No I didn’t make it up. My pro-debut, in Shreveport, Louisiana, someone came up and said, “Ike, they are calling you ‘The President’”. Little did I know that it was going to be a big name afterward. It’s strictly in the fighting business. I should tell you I do enjoy it. The president of anything is the president of anything. You know what I mean? (smiles) I like that”. (Santoliquito, J. 1999, p. 52).
With the nickname “The President”, Ike made quick work of his first professional opponent, Ismael Garcia, knocking him out in two rounds at the Harrah’s Casino in Shreveport, Louisiana, followed by a December 2nd , four round decision over the late Calvin Lampkin (an army champion), in Fort worth, Texas. And the winning streak went on.
RECORD TO DATE: Won 20 (KOs 15) / Lost 0 / Draw 0 / Total 20-0
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION RESULT
1999-03-20 CHRIS BYRD TACOMA WA TKO in 5
1998-09-04 EVERTON DAVIS ATLANTIC CITY NJ TKO in 9
1998-07-09 TIM RAY MARKSDALE MS TKO in 1
1997-06-07 DAVID TUA SACRAMENTO, CA UD in 12
WBC INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Scoring: 115-114, 116-113, 117-111
1997-05-08 Marcos Gonzales Dallas, TX KO in 4
1997-03-06 Manon Wilson Ashbury Park, NJ UD in 10
1997-01-09 Calvin Jones Beverly Hills, CA KO in 2
1996-12-05 Rodney Blount Tulsa, Okla. KO in 3
1996-11-08 Anthony Wade Las Vegas, NV PTS in 8
1996-08-08 Herman Delgado Lake Charles, LA TKO in 4
1996-05-24 Mike Acklie Dallas, TX TKO in 1
1996-04-11 Gary Butler Dallas, TX TKO in 1
1995-11-02 Calvin Lumpkin Austin, TX TKO in 2
1995-09-09 Greg Pickrom Fortworth, TX TKO in 3
1995-08-25 Terry Porter Austin, TX TKO in 3
1995-06 Martin Lopez Fortworth, TX KO in 1
1995-03 Keith Watson Fortworth, TX UD in 6
1995-01 Ron McGowan Shreveport, LA KO in 3
1994-12-02 Calvin Lumpkin Fortworth, TX UD in 4
1994-10-13 Ismael Garcia Shreveport, LA KO in 2
Before his arrest on 22 July 1999, Ike was the hottest heavyweight in the world. He was undefeated when he won the WBC International Heavyweight Title from David Tua. He came back (after a string of incidents with Texas Law Enforcement), to annihilate Chris Byrd (the most defensive fighter to date) in the fifth round, March 20, 1993, establishing himself as “the most dangerous man in boxing” (Raskin, 1999, p. 35).
Ringside Reports (August, 1999) Fighter of the Month, THE RING, p. 52.
Of course both his fights with David Tua and Chris Byrd were “Fights of the Month” and subsequently nominated for “Fights of the Year”, in both 97 and 99.
Later, in 1999, Ike openly challenged the Champions, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. They both refused, even though one of the challenges was rendered at the ESPN 2 Friday Night Fights, with Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny.
Although Ike’s been in prison for five years now, still, he maintains that “heat” in the public’s perception. In the latest article written by ESPN’s The Magazine it states: “The search for a dominant fighter to replace Lennox could stop at a prison in Lovelock, Nev., that’s where Ike Ibeabuchi is serving time for sexual assault. No one who’s seen him box doubts that Ibeabuchi could rule today’s shallow heavyweight pool”. (Woods, M. 2004, p. 98).
This whole story was summed up by Robert Ecksel of “The Sweet Science of Bruising” in his piece, The President is Missing, he asked, “Who exactly is Ike Ibeabuchi?” And thus, responded with the following:
“His record stands at a perfect 20-0 (15KOs) and it’s a safe bet that Ike’s the greatest heavyweight living. He decisioned David Tua in 1997, before Lennox touched up the Samoan a couple of years later. In 1999 Ike Koed a quicksilver heavyweight, the untouchable Chris Byrd, in five short rounds. Tougher than Lennox Lewis, younger than Evander Holyfield, bigger than Mike Tyson, more consistent than Hasim Rahman, Ibeabuchi has all it takes to become Heavyweight Champion of the World”.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Ecksel was a realist, because, subsequently, Lennox Lewis relinquished his IBF portion of the Championship rather than fight the number one mandatory challenger, Chris Byrd, who was once knocked out by Ike Ibeabuchi. Chris Byrd would later fight Evander Holyfield for the vacated belt, destroying the fortyish Evander through 12 rounds and becoming the IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World. He still maintains the title to this date.
So, how is Ike “The President” Ibeabuchi? Well, he suffers the same fate like a “rollercoaster”, which keeps turning Ike from one elevation to one depression. He now attends college classes at Western Nevada Community College while in prison. He has made the “Deans List”, scoring over 3.5 GPA. He also works out, tightening his body in the gym, as he puts it: “There might be a second chance ahead, and, if so, I want to be ready to fulfill my destiny, while entertaining the whole world”.
Ecksel, R. (2001), The President is Missing---Retrieved April 10, 2003, from the World Wide Web: http//Insidewomensboxing.com/Sweet Science of Bruising / Presidentikeibeabuchi.htm.
Ike Ibeabuchi- The President---Retrieved April 10, 2003, on the World Wide Web: http// www.ikeibeabuchi.com / record-htm.
Mladinich, R. (November, 1997), Ike “The President” Ibeabuchi – A Heavyweight Candidate, The Ring, p. 24.
Raskin, E, (December, 1999), “Ibeabuchi: Boxing Most Dangerous Man”, The Ring, p. 35.
Ringside (August, 1999), Fighter of the Month, The Ring, p. 52.
Santoliquito, J. (December, 1999), Interview Ike Ibeabuchi, “I’m not crazy”, KO Magazine, p. 52.
Woods, Michael J. (March 15, 2004), ESPN: The Magazine, p. 98.