The year 2020 did not go as well as expected, mainly due to the fallouts of the coronavirus pandemic. However, despite the closure of some sporting events, a number of Nigerians in the country and diaspora performed eminently well in their various sporting disciplines. They’ve scratched the surface and made way for other potential Nigerian stars, while making the country proud.
From the boxing world, to the football world, martial arts, and even table tennis, these athletes have put in notable efforts in their disciplines and changed the face of sports for Nigerians in the year 2020.
These are some of the athletes that impacted Nigerian sports in the year 2020. Tell us which athlete you think we missed out.
1. Anthony Joshua
British Nigerian boxer, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, is definitely the biggest Nigerian personality this year, he had a good 2020. Despite a defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, he bounced back and stunned his opponent with a remarkable win in the rematch at Saudi Arabia late last year, it was also reported that he won a staggering £46 million and has an outstanding net worth of $80 million.
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AJ retained his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles in December 2020, as he defeated Kubrat Pulev in Wembley and he earned £6-10 million.
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The Ring Magazine and Transactional Boxing Rankings Board in April 2020 ranked Anthony Joshua as the world’s second-best active heavyweight.
Joshua has some tremendous endorsement deals with Under Armour, Jaguar, Altitude Mask, StubHub, Sky Sports, Beats by Dre, AJ Elite Series, Lynx, BXR Gym, Lucozade, Texo Construction, Dafabet, Audemars Piguet, British Airways, Hugo Boss. AJ left Showtime in 2018 and got a massive deal of 1 billion dollars between his promoter, Matchroom Sports, and streaming service DAZN.
2. Israel Adesanya
Nigerian-born New Zealand professional mixed martial artist, Israel Oluwafemi Owolabi Adesanya alias “The Last Stylebender,” also had an incredible 2020. He defended his title for the first time in March, where he defeated Yoel Romero, and earned over $540,000. He also defeated Paulo Costa in September, and earned up to $600,000. This win brought him his fifth Performance of the Night award.
With his win against Paulo Costa, he maintained his undefeated record of 20 wins. His 2020 was summed up as he emerged the winner of MMA’s ‘International Fighter of the Year’ award.
Adesanya has a net worth of approximately $2 million (£1.6m). He has an endorsement deal with Peak milk and also has a clothing line of his own called “Engage.”
3. Victor Osimhen
Naples and Nigerian footballer, Victor James Osimhen, rose to stardom last year when he moved from Lille to Napoli for a staggering €71.2 million with a further €10.1million add-on summing up the fee to €81.3million; this makes him the most expensive African in history.
He had a hand in 24 goals for Lille where he had 18 goals and six assists in 38 appearances in all competitions. He won Lille’s player of the season award and went on to win the Marc-Vivien Foe prize given to the best African player in Ligue 1.
He has also set the pace in Napoli, having a hand in three goals for the Naples in eight appearances. He signed a five-year deal with Napoli in September, 2020, where he’ll be raking in €101,626 per week and €5,000,000 per year.
4. Asisat Oshoala
Super falcons and FC Barcelona Femení star, Asisat Lamina Oshoala, has been an inspiration to women’s football in Nigeria, taking it to the world at large. Since her move to FC Barcelona Femení in January, 2019, she has been on fire, having a hand in 12 goals in 12 appearances this season.
The 26-year-old also has a foundation of her own called, “Foundation Football4girls Championship” and 2020’s edition took place from December 1 to 3. The tournament, sponsored by Emzor Pharmaceuticals in partnership with the Lagos State Sports Commission, is usually played as an eight-a-side competition in a knockout format for the grand prize of $1000.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Greek-Nigerian professional basketball player, Giannis Sina Antetokounmpo, had a great 2020 with his team, Milwaukee Bucks. He is the NBA’s reigning two-time Most Valuable Player (bagged the award 2019 and 2020). He also won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award that same season and joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan as the only players to win it in the same season, making him the third player to achieve the feat in the league’s history.
The 26-year-old, as per Basketball Reference, finished the season with an all-time record for single-season NBA Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 31.87. In December 2020, he signed a 5-year, $228 million dollar extension, the largest in league history. The deal also includes an opt-out in the fourth year.
According to Forbes, he has a net worth of $47.6 million and earns around $19 million from his endorsement deals. Also, his major sponsors include 2K Sports, Hulu, and Nike.
6. Joseph Yobo
Former Nigerian International football player, Joseph Micheal Yobo, had a great 2020. In February, NFF announced his appointment as the new assistant coach under Gernot Rohr following the dismissal of Imama Amapakabo.
His inclusion to the coaching crew came as a suprise to many; he was also tagged by NFF President as the future head coach of the team. After his appointment, he got to work when Nigeria played during the international break and helped the Super Eagles with three draws and one defeat in four matches.
7. Enku Ekuta
The Akwa Ibom born Judoka, Enku Ekuta, also had a great 2020 in her discipline. She won her first continental open gold medal in 2020 as she made Nigeria proud in the fourth African Judo Open. The African Judo Open took place in Dakar, Senegal, where she defeated the 2019 African Games champion, Helene Dombeu of Cameroun, in the final.
Her victory in the final added 100 IJF world-ranking points to her profile as she continues to gather points to secure her qualification for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games, to hold in Tokyo, Japan.