Stranded Cross River Born Olympian Becomes Street Worker In Lagos, Needs Help!

Bassey at the Olympics. Credits: Getty Images
Bassey at work on the road.

A Cross Riverian, Etim Patrick ‘Ironbar’ Bassey, who represented Nigeria in the men’s super heavyweight weightlifting event at the 1984 Summer Olympics Games in Los Angeles, USA, is presently stranded in Lagos, doing menial jobs and serving as a volunteer, fixing potholes and directing traffic on the very busy Addo-Badore Road in Ajah, Lagos.

An investigation into Bassey’s identity became necessary after enterpreneur and social media influencer, Ray Ugba Morphy, posted pictures of the Olympian with the rider: “He got injured and this country abandoned him. Now he’s seen everyday doing selfless community service to humanity by clearing wastes along the road sides, fixing potholes and controlling traffic around Ajah axis. But we can help him if government will not? His state of CRS can help him if Federal government will not. We are all humanity.”

Bassey at the Olympics. Credits: Getty Images.

Further investigations by show that, Bassey, born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1965, while competing at the Olympics, felt a pain in one of his legs, a medical examination showed thereafter that he had a thorn muscle, something that effectively ended his Olympic sojourn.

At 29 then, it was a sad blow to Nigeria’s huge medal hopeful at the event as well as a personal loss and disappointment to him. This injury also meant that the scholarship at the University of Southern California to play American football, was gone with the wind. Abandoned by Nigerian authorities after he sustained the injury while representing the country, he ploughed his personal saving of more than $25,000 (twenty five thousand dollars) into seeking medical help.

After he underwent a successful surgery in America, he ran out of money and became desperate far away from home and the sad decline of this Nigerian Olympian began. He told Pulse, an online newspaper in Nigeria, back in March 2018, that, “if I didn’t use my money to take care of my injury, the sky would have been my limit because there is a lot of business I would have gone into.”

A second surgery after, he took up several jobs, married an American lady who later left him for another man after having two daughters, Maine and Nkoyo, for him. Unable to stay any longer in America after his separation from his wife, he returned to Nigeria in 2004.

Back in Nigeria, with a string, on and off jobs, he finally ‘landed’ the voluntary maintenance job on Addo-Badore Road, Ajah. As the horde of commuters come and go on that road, not many of them know that the stocky road maintenance volunteer who also directs traffic on the road is an Olympian, has won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in weightlifting, won back to back gold medals at two National Sports festivals, participated in the African Weightlifting Championships in Port Saeed, Egypt in 1981 and won three Gold Medals. It is a pity that a fellow with such sporting promise is out in the cold grinding out a less than enviable living on the streets.

Can individuals and the Cross River State Government, especially, pitch in to help?

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