Idowu: The Bariga boxing princess


Mistura Idowu is the daughter of a boxer in Bariga, Lagos and while that may seem to explain her career path easily, it didn’t actually play out that way.

Monsuru Idowu did not start teaching his daughter to box until she came to him.

According to him, “I didn’t always want her to box even though I am a boxing coach. I noticed that someone in the neighbourhood used to pick on her and other kids and my daughter would come to me crying that someone was beating her. Then I started taking her with me to the boxing gym, and she was observing what others did.”

He added, “However, I didn’t train her, I just left her there and she was learning without my knowledge. One day, she came to meet me and asked me to pad her; I now asked her ‘what do you know that you’re talking of padding?’ but I eventually answered and padded her and was calling out commands and combinations to which she responded to with great speed. At this point, I knew I had to test her in combat.

“I called one of the boys in the gym to come and spar with her. For her first fight, she was very resilient and displayed great ability in the ring, and she has never been in the ring before but the boy won. After a week of training where I actually taught her this time, I put them in the ring together again and she won.

“Mistura is very talented. Honestly, I believe she can do a lot with boxing, as long as she continues to focus and train the way she is doing now.”

The 16-year old corroborated her dad’s story, telling PUNCH Sports Extra about how she used to learn in the gym at age 11.

“My dad started taking me to the gym and I watched those in the ring and the way they boxed. And one day, I went to my dad, that I wanted to learn boxing and that I loved the sport a lot. The next day, he bought me a canvas, and then we started boxing,” she told PUNCH Sports Extra.

Idowu’s love for boxing knows no bounds.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” she admitted. “Boxing makes me feel really good and happy, the boxing ring makes me feel like I am going to a party, I love fighting a lot.

“I was inspired to like it by my mentor Abdulafeez Osoba, who is the captain at my gym, while my idol is Natasha Jonas.”

Unbeaten since her first defeat at her first National Youth Games tournament in 2019 where she had beaten three pugilists to qualify for the semi-finals, Idowu made sure she rectified that error in 2021 by taking the gold on her second showing at the tournament, after beating ‘Zino’ Michael, the girl who beat her the first time.

“I have won 20 medals, and out of all these, the most special one is from the National Youth Games in 2021, when I represented Team Lagos,” she told PUNCH Sports Extra.

“I first went in 2019, the year I started boxing and I won bronze, then at the 2021 Games, I got the gold. I was so excited because the last time I won the bronze medal, I prayed to God and promised myself that the next Games I’ll attend, I’ll claim the gold, so I made my mission come true.”

Idowu’s unbeaten run now stands at 26 since her last defeat in 2019 comprising of appearances in various local tournaments in Lagos and also at the Games in Kwara.

Mistura’s mom, Oriyomi Idowu, is fully behind her daughter and husband on the Mistura project.

“When Mistura first started boxing, I was happy because I know what people gain from it. I was never worried because her father is her coach, I am sure that as far as her father is with her, nothing can happen to her.

“I think she can go as far as she wants, it is her decision. Boxing is her career, however she wants to pursue it, whether with education or not, I support her fully.”