Power Mike

Power Mike (Real Name: Michael Okpala) is undeniably an incomparable legendary father of pro-wrestling in Nigeria today.

From sheer obscurity, he helped to lift the sport to prominence. As a performer, he rose to the very highest pinnacle, capturing the exalted World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.

And as a promoter, he has set a standard in organisational competence that is the envy of his numerous rivals.

But ironically, the involvement of this Hercules of Africa from Neni in the Anaocha L.G.A of Anambra State in pro-wrestling is more by accident than by design.

He first shot into national prominence in the early sixties with his extraordinary feats of strength.

He would stop the movement of two Volkswagen 1300 Cars being driven in opposite directions with ropes tied to his hands and the bumpers of the two Cars; bend an iron bar with his teeth and break a six-inch nail into two with his bare hands.

His other incredible feats included lifting a five-ton lorry engine with his teeth and blowing a hot-water bottle until it burst like a balloon.

After asserting himself as the strongest man in Nigeria, he embarked on a power exhibition tour of some West African countries and knocked out their best men in power combats. He also lifted weights hundreds could not lift.

Thereafter, he left for Europe where he became an instant hit and was soon persuaded to train as a professional wrestler.

In Greece, the land of World renowned wrestlers, he learnt various techniques of the sport from established masters and soon graduated into a full fledged wrestler.

Combining his tutored skills with his unnatural strength, he took on all comers including the famous Greek Champion Paparazallo and Commonwealth "Kingpin" Joseph Kovacs and beat them all.

The climax of his exciting ring career came in the mid-seventies when he defeated 266 pounder Ali Baba of Lebanon to capture the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.

At that time, pro-wrestling in it's modern form was virtually unknown in Nigeria, but Newspaper reports of Power Mike's sensational victory over the famed Lebanese marked a turning point for the sport in the country.

Soon, Nigerians were clamouring for the homecoming of their worthy son who had been described by President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia as "a great ambassador of the black race".

And when Power Mike eventually decided to make his first title defence against Ali Baba in Lagos in 1975, a Sardine-packed audience was on hand at the National Stadium Lagos to cheer him to victory.

The battle of the two giants was a do-or-die affair in which neither of the two allowed any quarter to the other and it ended in a double knockout. 

The rematch at the Sports Hall of the National Stadium saw Power Mike silencing Ali Baba with a convincing knockout.

Before he finally retired in 1976 to go into promotions, he had demolished every mortal put before him including Jude Harris, Lee Sharron and Head-Butt" terror Jonny Kwango.

Power Mike's emergence on the promotional scene even brought great glamour into professional wrestling in Nigeria.

His promotions were unique because of the calibre of performers and the hitch-free nature of their general organisational set-ups.

All his promotions were big box-office attractions and these have led many to believe that he's millionaire.

But the"Don King of Africa" dismisses the claim of being a millionaire with the wave of his hand.

"I am not a millionaire, but I try to live good. It is not easy for Sports Promoters in Nigeria to hit the million mark because when the money starts coming in, a sizeable portion of it is spent on charity, he said.

On why he features mostly European and American stars in his tournaments, he offers no apology, saying "We have to feature the calibre of wrestlers that will pull crowd large enough to cover our over-head costs."

He added, however, that it is the policy of his organisation to give maximum encouragement to wrestlers who are willing to work hard.

He disclosed his plans to build a modern gymnasium for the training of young and upcoming Nigerian wrestlers.

Undoubtedly, the success story of Power Mike is that of a man who, through sheer dedication and the will to succeed, has made it to the very top in his chosen fields.

And as a mark of recognition for his invaluable contribution to the growth and development of wrestling generally in the country, he was then appointed the vice-chairman of the governing board of Nigerian Amateur Wrestling Association.

He is happily married with children - Okechukwu Okpala, Ugochukwu Okpala, Ikechukwu Walter Okpala, a daughter.

Source: ThrowbackTimes.com.ng