According to the Nigerian Telegraph, the 57-year-old boxer, who is seeking to become the oldest man to hold a world boxing title defence, and wants to have his defence staged in Nigeria, jostled to get an audience with President Jonathan, who was at the Abuja National Stadium to inaugurate ‘Rhythm ‘N’ Play on Thursday. Ali scuffled with the president’s aides, which got the attention of Jonathan. After having been allowed to approach the president, and after stating his mission, Jonathan directed that the boxer see the Minister of Sports for further discussion on the matter.
Ali however alleged that when he tried to see Abdullahi at a private luncheon held with celebrities and a few others, he was manhandled by the minister’s aides and denied audience with the minister.
“There is no respect in this country for the people who should be respected,” Ali fumed. “How can I, when all I am trying to do is lift up my country’s name, be assaulted by a bunch of scoundrels all in the name of protecting their master? I was already a world champion when they were in primary school.”