Like Anthony Joshua, Scotland’s biggest basketball export is Nigerian by birth

Kieron Achara

Anthony Joshua’s victory over two-time world heavyweight boxing champion, Wladimir Klitschko, in front of 90,000 people at Wembley on Saturday earned him a whopping £15million.

It also earned him the affection of millions of Nigerians who feel connected to the 27-year-old Watford-born British boxer by virtue of the facts that his parents are Nigerians.

Joshua announced his arrival on the international scene when he won the super-heavyweight boxing gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics for Great Britain.

Another athlete of Nigerian descent who represented Team GB at the London Olympics is Kieron Achara, described by Daily Mail as “Scotland’s most famous basketball export”.

However, unlike Joshua who has Nigeria’s mao tattooed on his arm, Achara, who was born in Stirling, Scotland on July 3, 1983, rarely speaks about his Nigerian root.

His mother left his father in Nigeria to return to Stirling when Achara was a toddler and she remarried shortly thereafter.

In the absence of a biological father, the gangling youth from a one-parent family drew strength from his mother, Marion Afzal, and his maternal grandfather, Bob Murphy.

“Hard work is something I have always been around. My mother had three jobs when I was young. My grandfather was a great role model, always working to improve himself. My stepfather is a grafter,” he told Daily Mail.

Achara turned professional in 2008 after graduating from Duquesne University. He began his basketball career abroad in Italy but came back to his home nation in 2010 when he joined Scotland’s only professional basketball team, the Glasgow Rocks.

On 26 September 2010, the power forward debuted for the Glasgow Rocks in a game against Sheffield Sharks, which they went on to win 80-76.

Following two successful years with Sigma Barcellona and Assignia Manresa in Spain, he signed a short two week contract in 2012 with the Glasgow Rocks.

After spells in Europe, he re-signed for the Rocks for the 2014-15 season and is still with the club.

Achara is the youngest player ever to play for the Scotland national side, featuring in the FIBA Europe Promotions Cup.

He made his debut for Great Britain team in 2008, shortly before turning professional and played a major role in Team GB’s only victory at the London Olympics against China.

His elder brother, Idris, who also plays basketball, represented Britain in basketball at the 2000 Paralympics at Athens, Greece.

With little or no interaction with Nigeria, the father says he is “Scottish and Proud”.