One Bad President

By Jarrett Zook on March 6, 2014
One Bad President
With yet another big victory under his belt it seemed the sky was the limit for The President.

Only four months after pummeling Chris Byrd the young contender got into an altercation with a call girl in a Las Vegas hotel…

Boxing, like any other, sport is filled with many great talents whose careers are cut short before they reach their full potential. Oftentimes careers end prematurely due to early death, serious injury, or lack motivation. It is not even uncommon in the tumultuous world of boxing for many prospects’ livelihoods to be interrupted by prison sentences. For example, both Mike Tyson and James Kirkland spent large chunks of their twenties in prison. In more rare cases fighters must end their career entirely due to committing a heinous crime. One prime example of such a fighter is Ike “The President” Ibeabuchi.

Born in Nigeria in 1973, Ibeabuchi is debatably the best African Heavyweight of all time. He stood 6’2’’ tall and weighed in at an immensely muscular 240 pounds. Consequently, he was quite an intimidating figure and certainly looked like a prototypical heavyweight champion. Like many fighters Ike met a large degree of success in the amateur ranks; in Nigeria he twice defeated future Olympic Bronze medalist Duncan Dokiwari. In 1993 he moved to the U.S. with his mother, then captured the Texas Golden Gloves title the following year. The same year he won the Golden Gloves tournament Ibeabuchi turned pro and started destroying the typical garden variety journeymen that prospects are fed.

While Ibeabuchi was steamrolling his early opponents and had a pretty good amateur pedigree, he still managed to fly under the radar. This was likely due to the fact that many pundits overlooked The President in favor of other rising prospects such as Michael Grant and David Tua. Ike was keen to make his mark on the division though, and in 1997 accepted a fight with the fearsome Tua. Entering fight night Tua had compiled a record of 27-0 and was thought to be perhaps the future of the heavyweight division. The stocky Samoan was poised for a title shot and had beaten such opponents as John Ruiz, David Izon, and Oleg Maskaev. On the other hand, Ibeabuchi may have been 16-0, but he had fought no big names and despite his obvious physical gifts was thought to serve as just another notch on the Samoan warrior’s belt.

If fights were fought on paper then we’d have no sport. Ibeabuchi was not prepared to follow the script that had been written for him. From the opening bell Tua and Ibeabuchi fought as if the two were in a phone booth. No thought was given to boxing by either fighter, as the two stood in the middle of the ring and threw punches at a rate that had never been seen before. When all was said and done a new CompuBox record for punches thrown in a heavyweight fight had been set at 1,730. The President set the individual record with 975 and emerged with a close unanimous decision victory. Following this upset Ibeabuchi had firmly established himself as a heavyweight contender and the world was seemingly his oyster.

After the Tua fight Ike knocked out two mediocre opponents before facing slick boxing prospect Chris Byrd in March of 1999. Byrd entered the fight with an undefeated record just like Tua did, yet would pose an altogether different challenge than the Samoan. Where Tua was pure hard charging slugger, Byrd was a consummate boxer famous for both his feather fists and frustrating effectiveness. While he may have provided a different challenge for The President, Byrd did not prove to be a much of a test. Lacking the power to back up Ike, Byrd was subject to constant pressure and ate numerous hard punches. In the fifth round Ibeabuchi scored two knockdowns and landed a particularly brutal combination and the referee stopped the fight. Once again The President had shown to be a merciless ruler in the ring.

With yet another big victory under his belt it seemed the sky was the limit for The President. The exact opposite occurred though as Ike’s personal life spiraled out of control. Only four months after pummeling Chris Byrd the young contender got into an altercation with a call girl in a Las Vegas hotel. The fallout from this incident served as the knockout blow to Ike’s promising career as he plead guilty to committing battery with intent to commit a crime and attempted rape. For this crime Ike was sentenced to serve 5 to 30 years in prison. He has been repeatedly denied parole since his earliest hearing in 2004, remains incarcerated, and if he does get out soon he will likely be deported or had too far a layoff to be relevant in the world of boxing.

Ibeabuchi was incarcerated for a pretty heinous crime, but unfortunately it was not the first instance that he displayed egregious mental instability. Subsequent to the war with Tua, Ibeabuchi began complaining of intense headaches. Thus, he was taken to a hospital and underwent numerous tests, including an MRI. However, no damage was detected and he was released. Even though Ike seemingly had a clean bill of health, he began to act extremely erratically. A few months after the Tua fight, The President created quite the scandal when he abducted an ex-girlfriend’s 15-year-old son and slammed his car into a concrete pillar. After settling a civil suit and pleading guilty to false imprisonment he served 120 days. In addition to this crime Ibeabuchi also began to act delusional and egotistical. He began to insist that he saw demons and he often insisted on people both treating him like and calling him The President. There was even an incidence where Ibeabuchi viciously attacked one of his trainers and a sparring partner.

Ibeabuchi was as magnificent in the ring as he was unstable outside of it. It is unfortunate that we will never know what heights The President could have attained had he been able to control his personal demons. He certainly had the potential to give any heavyweight of his era a handful. The immense Nigerian displayed tremendous heart, stamina, and chin in the Tua fight. Not only did he throw a tremendous amount of punches, but he withstood an incredible barrage of punches from the extremely hard hitting Samoan. Additionally, in both the Tua and Byrd bouts Ibeabuchi showed that he had well above average power. He even knocked out Byrd quicker than any other fighter would.

Unfortunately for boxing fans, Ike never got to face his greatest challenges. Soon after Ike’s hotel fiasco, Lennox Lewis defeated Holyfield in a title unification fight and reigned atop the division. Ibeabuchi stood as good a chance against the gigantic English champion as anyone. Lewis did prove to be vulnerable to a good punch in knockout losses to Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall. Considering the volume in which Ibeabuchi threw punches, it is hard to fathom that Lewis would not have had to stand up to some good shots. Ike would have had to contend with Lewis’s extremely large reach and boxing ability.  Regardless of the outcome it surely would have been an entertaining fight. The Klitschko brothers were also on the rise when the sun set on Ibeabuchi’s career. A young Wladimir proved vulnerable to a good punch and Ibeabuchi would likely have dispatched him inside of the distance. Vitali would have proved tougher, but he provides a more stationary target than his brother and the two could have put on quite the slugfest. Even if Ike was able to beat the best in his era how long would he remain at the top? His style was extremely intense and draining and this may have caused a short-lived reign. One thing for sure is that Ike Ibeabuchi is one of the biggest what ifs in a sport filled wi

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  1. bikermike 08:56am, 06/05/2014

    In the ring…Ibeabuchi was brilliant.  Outside the ring…he was at least a half bubble off plumb.  He was nuts !!

    He is where he should be…and it is a damn shame .  The guy was a threat to society..and nobody could tell him his behavior was not acceptable.  He had to go

  2. PATRICK TAYLOR 08:24am, 06/05/2014

    For my money, Lennox Lewis, would have never ever seen a heavyweight championship belt if Ike had not been incarcerated. Evander Holyfield would have also lost to Ike easily.  What a waste of talent.  This man would have been the heavyweight Champion for a very long time, with the proper coach and training…

  3. John 12:26pm, 03/17/2014

    Ted, THANKS THERE. I am >connected<|||| yup…..OUT.

  4. Eric 08:30am, 03/17/2014

    If Ike Ibeabuchi’s career had been sidelined, he would’ve more than likely eclipsed Gerrie Coetzee as the most talented African heavyweight.  Kallie Knoetzee and the others mentioned were good fighters but I feel Ibeabuchi had already surpassed those fighters with the exception of Sanders and of course Coetzee. Johnny Du Plooy was also a decent heavyweight, not as good as a Coetzee or Sanders but a good talented prospect back in the day.

  5. John Wilkinson 11:44pm, 03/16/2014

    Ted-as-in “Ted-Oh-bear”! :  )

  6. Ted 03:23pm, 03/16/2014

    Breaking News, Boxing’s President Ike Ibeabuchi has been Released

    Categories: news | 0 comments

    By Michael Amakor | March 14, 2014

    Reports indicate that former heavyweight boxing contender Ike Ibeabuchi was released from prison in February.

    The Nevada Board of Corrections confirmed his release in a phone call, but all efforts to track him or his mother who has spent the past couple of years trying to stir up support for his release down were unsuccessful at the time of filling this report.

    Originally from Nigeria, Ike Ibeabuchi 41, nicknamed “The President”, was an exciting fighter in the nineties who amassed a stellar professional record of 20 wins, including 15 knockouts with no losses. He also captured the WBC International heavyweight title in 1997 and seemed destined for a title shot before getting convicted for attempted sexual assault and battery with intent to commit a crime stemming from an incident in 1999.

    It has been they fervent hope in boxing that he would resume his career when released, but those hopes have faded over the years as the Nevada State Parole Board repeatedly denied him parole. With his release those wishes may come to fruition, but he most likely faces deportation.

    There are also unconfirmed reports that his family has just recently suffered a painful tragedy.

    Our thoughts are with the President.

  7. John 06:04am, 03/14/2014

    Ike, “The President” wrote that (nice) piece from Prison. He is 41 years of age now. SHOOT. If he did get released *if he is deported…... Or, if he isn’t [SEEMS TO ME, THE MAN SERIOUSLY IS A CHANGED PERSON! ~IT SEEMS THAT WAY~] I would •talk• with him anout if we can work together. Best plan outside USA would be to go to South Africa. But, would South Africa let him in? I could ~REQUEST~ in Brunei (where I was National coach, some 20 year ago…..). I think what would be in Ring •target• would be selected Opp for one two three fights always you have to feel this out. James Toney the first, “serious” target. We could : dream: about a Bernard Hopkins fight, too!

  8. JohnWilkinson 05:40am, 03/14/2014

    I will be—STILL SEARCHING THEIR—but….so far I found this interesting article (enjoy) ~

    The best thing that ever happened to me in my life, either in or out of prison, was the opportunity to return to school and get an education. For 16 years now, since my last year in school, I never realized how satisfying it would be to complete my education. When I was not in prison, boxing prevented me from going back to school as I kept procrastinating, assuring myself that when my boxing career was over, I would go back to school.

    I would later come to realize, that here in America, opportunity exists everywhere, even for those in prison. It was there, that I made the decision to make some positive changes in my life and finally indulge my desire to get an education. In fact, my efforts and desire in learning have kept me on the “Dean’s List” at Western Nevada Community College for two semesters in a row.

    Nothing is as rehabilitating and refreshing as education. As a matter of fact, the very situation that led to my incarceration could have been avoided if I had learned then what I have learned now. Courses like psychology and communications have indeed enlightened me on how to socialize and interact with people in a positive way.

    So I encourage anyone, especially young people out there who feel that athletics is all they need to become accomplished in life. While this may be partly true, athletics without education is a waste. I hate to cite instances but, it’s true. Nothing compares or even comes close to the empowerment of learning. Knowledge is power; and, good for everyone. And so I say to everyone, go to school!

  9. bikermike 09:39pm, 03/10/2014

    somebody was posting ..calling themselves Ike Ibeabuchi on ESB some time back….never knew if it was legit

  10. John Wilkinson 11:30am, 03/09/2014

    “viciously attacked one of his trainers at a sparring partner”. Unfinished thought, isn’t it? *definitely Ike The Winner in the David Tua fight.

  11. Darrell 02:29am, 03/09/2014

    Leave it out Tex, you’ve been at the communion wine again…..yesteryear’s Wlad (the young, exciting up & comer before he got all nervy about his chin) could’ve just as easily beaten Ibeabuchi.  In fact today’s Wlad would certainly chop him up.  He wouldn’t have beaten Vitali at any stage.

    He was a good young heavyweight, no doubts… were Golota & McCall (for mine the best of the, ahem, “troubled” heavyweights) on the way up.  You need a bit more than a primo physique & some talent to become a heavyweight champion…..I know, I know, McCall did briefly.

    I have Tua beating him in their fight.  Tua came on more & more as the fight went on.

  12. John Wilkinson 06:21pm, 03/08/2014

    “Shame”. He was riding on the top wave!

  13. bikermike 05:19pm, 03/08/2014

    IKE…before Chris Byrd… like the Buster DOuglas .before Mike Tyson….

    Neither winner was the same after….for what ever the reason

  14. bikermike 05:17pm, 03/08/2014

    When Ike was at his best…he could ‘slug it out ’ with anybody…as his punches were PURE AND TRUE….just ask Chris Byrd

  15. bikermike 05:07pm, 03/08/2014

    Tex….been reading your posts for years…..

    IKE was a gifted fighter who fought his way through the contenders…got his shot at Chris Byrd and knocked Byrd completely out…... success and the ‘spoils of war’ rained down upon IKE…..he stopped doing what he was doing get him to that level of success…

    the rest is history… there a conspiracy theory there someplace…to remove this wrecking machine from the opposition ....could be…might be…..but ...last I heard…..IKE was acting like a very bad person ...when he was arrested…and the woman was released

  16. Tex Hassler 04:31pm, 03/08/2014

    I think the President’s downfall began when he chose to slug it out toe to to with Tua. He could have easily won by staying on the outside and boxing but instead he too far more punches and I think he was damaged during that fight.
    In his prime he would have blown the Klitschko brothers out of the ring. He was another Sonny Liston.

  17. bikermike 08:17pm, 03/07/2014

    methinks IKE was drinking a little too deeply from the cup of life….and was no longer doing the things that got him where he was…..
    many agree he struggled in some of his ‘big fights’

    ..not a new story…happens a lot

  18. bikermike 08:10pm, 03/07/2014

    Ike was very good…..give him his due

    Too bad about the rest

  19. bikermike 08:04pm, 03/07/2014

    I can’t help it…....whenever I hear about IKE…..I remember him walking down and catching Chris Byrd..with a BIG ....BIG PUNCH…..

    Chris Byrd was down and out… more ‘cutie’....IKE…was the guy that snatched that fly away from the big table….

    Then….IKE proved to be as looney as a baboon’s ass…and had to be put away….as he was a danger to folks…‘specially girls…

    I’d like to remember him for that Chris Byrd KO…

  20. nicolas 02:57am, 03/07/2014

    JAN: The writer did say debatably,  Of the fighters you mention, all South Africans by the way, I would have to suggest that Gerrie Coetzee was the best. Having beaten both Leon Spinks by first round knockout, and Michael Dokes by 10 round knockout and winning the WBA title back in 83. But just can’t also forget his loses, one against a fighter who had lost two in a row, Greg Page. Also stopped by Mike Weaver. Ikes wins over Tua and Byrd however are equally impressive as the two Gerrie wins. I think in the case of Ike, there is this feeling that he might have gone very far.

  21. Jan Swart 09:39pm, 03/06/2014

    Ike Ibeabuchi the best African heavyweight of all time? I beg to differ. You must never have heard of Gerrie Coetzee, Kallie Knoetze, Pierre Coetzer or Corrie Sanders. Or, going back a bit, Mike Schutte or Jimmy Richards. Or, back even further, Don McCorkindale or Ben Foord.

  22. Ted 08:44pm, 03/06/2014

    Nicknamed after Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the US, as in “I Like Ike”

  23. Julio 05:01pm, 03/06/2014

    This is the first time I heard this heavyweight boxer Ike Ibeabuchi. Could anyone tell me why the writer called him “The President?” Thanks.

  24. Pete The Sneak 01:18pm, 03/06/2014

    “Worst thing in life is Wasted Talent.”
    —Lorenzo Anello, A Bronx Tale.

  25. Joe 01:14pm, 03/06/2014

    I recall the interview after the Bryd fight and he seemed very coherent to me.  It was Bryd who was still KO’d and making ridiculous comments.  Can’t say I saw the ESPN interview but he didn’t appear to be troubled after that Byrd fight.  Once he finally caught up to Chris he put him away; beautiful boxing display.  And I think he beat Tua as well.

  26. Ted 12:19pm, 03/06/2014

    It was an unreal fight

  27. nicolas 12:06pm, 03/06/2014

    I just finished watching the fight against Tua, and Ike certainly did win. At best for Tua, it was a 115-113 loss. I had it 116-112.

  28. nicolas 11:19am, 03/06/2014

    I remember seeing him after his victory over Chris Byrd as the guest co host or something on ESPN. With his comments, which did not make any sense, one could see that something was not right about this guy. I never saw his fight with Tua, but I have heard that many felt that Tua should have gotten the victory. Guess I should watch the fight to see how I feel. Even if he had not gone to jail, somehow I feel that this man would have self destructed in the ring. Someone gets a win over him for example, and many fighters today seem to melt when they have their first loss, and never mentally recover. Perhaps if Ike was the greatest heavyweight ever produced in Africa, on the day he fought Tua, he fought the greatest Heavyweight that the Asian-Pacific region ever produced.

  29. Ted 09:58am, 03/06/2014

    One thing you never do in Las Vegas is mess with the image of a safe place to visit. Ike did and he paid for it. But this does raise the question of what happened to the issue involving Wilder?

  30. Joe 09:43am, 03/06/2014

    The President was a bad man.  Too bad we didn’t have the opportunity to see how far he could have gone.  He’s still locked up in Nevada somewhere which is even more disappointing.  What a talent gone by the wayside.

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