“It all started out when I was in the streets.”
As common a narrative as this may be in boxing, there are few fighters who really did get sucked into the dangers of the street life before discovering the sport of boxing. Wale “Lucky Boy” is one such example. Growing up in the often violent streets of Lagos, Nigeria, Omotoso would find himself engulfed by the street culture well into his -teens.
Through his time in the volatile Lagos, Omotoso has seen as much violence, as he has dished out. His favorite activity growing up? Street fighting, and it was this no-holds barred kind of fighting that would eventually lead Omotoso to find the sport of boxing at nineteen, an age where many are already deemed “too old”. “I would punch people out in the streets, and eventually, people began to grow scared of me because I would knock people out even though I wasn’t necessarily boxing. My mindset at the time was, he (his opponent) doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, so to me that was a good enough reason to make a fight. Sometimes, people would start complaining, “Hey, you don’t use your hands enough”, so that’s when I really began to use only my hands in a fight. I really took to fighting in the street, and it led me all the way to the national stadium. So I just thought, here I can train my boxing, so let me check it out. At the time I just took it as a tool since it would allow me to fight five or six people without a weapon, but before I knew it, boxing really began to change into something different.”
Time has certainly been kind to the prospect, as his hardships back in Nigeria are nothing more than a memory. Since going pro in 2006, Omotoso finds himself undefeated at 23-0, living in L.A., and now preparing for a fight on the undercard of December 8th’s Pacquiao/Marquez IV pay-per-view. As Omotoso prepares for his nearing fight date, he will find himself facing two obstacles on his path to potential super-stardom.
The first obstacle in Omotoso’s journey up the rankings comes in the form of journeyman, Irving Garcia (17-8-3, 8 knockouts). Few see Garcia acting as anything more than a measuring stick for Omotoso’s growing potential, and even Omotoso doesn’t seem entirely sure of what the crafty Garcia might bring to the ring come Dec. 8. “I don’t really believe in researching my opponents since I believe in my own team. I’m the kind of fighter where I train on my own techniques. All I can do than is show up fight night, see what he does, and go on to really control the ring. I’m gonna really force him to dance to my own music and dominate.”
Regardless of what many pundits and even Omotoso believe, Garcia may find himself playing the role of the spoiler should Omotoso give in to the much more abstract, yet equally devastating, second obstacle. The obstacle in question will be the new found pressure that comes with fighting on one of the biggest cards of the year.
As insignificant as it may seem, the sport has seen some of it’s brightest prospects fizzle out after failing to manage the seemingly mounting pressure. Omotoso will face some of the most intense pressure of his young career against Irving Garcia because for the first time, potentially millions of eyes will all be on the “Lucky Boy”. It’s this kind of pressure that leads many to question whether the prospect might crack. Some even wonder if his game-planning for the fight may be affected in an attempt to “wow” the crowd with a spectacular finish.
“There’s no pressure. At the end of the day, I always have to fight, and trust me, I love to fight. When I see those lights, the energy, and the crowd, it doesn’t change me. I just go in there reminding myself that I’m going into this [fight] prepared to do what I practiced to do. So all I can do now is show everyone what I’ve got, and leave the rest in the hands of God.”
Regardless of whether he feels the pressure or not, Omotoso will walk into the ring knowing that he is finally getting what every young and up-and-coming fighter wants most, exposure. Omotoso has spent his entire career at the welterweight division (147 lbs.), and with names like Floyd Mayweather (43-0,23 knockouts) , Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts), Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 knockouts) , atop the division, it’s easy to see how Omotoso could be looked over as a potential contender.
Omotoso is hoping all of this can change with a victory against the 33-year old Garcia. Whether or not he leaps to contendership, Omotoso has proved that he is willing to fight whoever, even if his opponents don’t necessarily feel the same way. “Honestly, I don’t care who I face. I can list them (top-10 fighters) all, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. I’ve seen them all fight, and they know I’m willing to face them. For example, [Timothy] Bradley. He just beat Pacquiao. He’s proven to be strong and tough, and for a while was looking for a fight on Dec. 15th. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of fighter to call people out, as no one seems to want to fight people who have yet to really develop a name for themselves. Since I’m not yet in a position to really call these tough fighters out, all I can do is hope that God will allow my opportunity to come.”
Only time will tell whether Wale Omotoso will finally become the contender and superstar he truly believes he can be. His journey to the top of the division, as well as the TV sets of millions, all begins on Dec. 8th. He may not get the immediate boost he hoped for following his fight with Garcia, but if Omotoso has proven anything, it’s that he is as patient as he is religious.
“All I can do is train hard, fight the opponents they (the promoters) give me, beat him up in the ring, and pray to God that the opportunity finally comes. I really wish I knew when I might become a contender, but it should be expected when one comes to a different country. No one knows me. No one gives a shit about me, but it just makes me work harder because I don’t know what else there is in life if it doesn’t involve boxing. Naturally, I have to feed and support my family back in Africa, but all I can do is hang in there and keep my fingers crossed. I already know one day, one day, they will all come to smile by the grace of God.”
With a great knowledge of the sport, as well as a boxing style that is as well-rounded as they come, Wale Omotoso seems poised to become one of the next big names in a division that is already full of them. Whether it happens sooner or later, believe that Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso is a fighter whose big dreams match his potential.
For any news, updates, or general talk on Boxing, be sure to follow Tha’ Boxing Voice (@ThaBoxingVoice)on Twitter as well as myself , Danny Gonzalez (@dfgonzalez305). Also, be sure to check out and life Wale Omotoso’s Official Fan Page on Facebook.