The Commissioner for Sports in Rivers, Boma Iyaye, has inaugurated the world-class dojo in Port Harcourt built by Chief Marco Purgatorio, an Italian and board member of the Karate Federation of Nigeria (KFN).
A dojo is a hall or school where martial arts are practised.
Represented at the inauguration in Port Harcourt by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, James Enebeli, the commissioner said the dojo was “ a giant stride achieved by a sacrificial heart.’’
“It takes the heart of somebody that sacrifices to assemble dignitaries as we have here for an occasion like this.
“So, I congratulate Chief Purgatorio for this giant stride because it is not easy for even indigenes to develop a gym and dojo such as this.
“It shows the level of love you have for sports development because this is coming from an individual, a sacrificial heart,” he said.
According to Iyaye, sports is not like road project that if you commit a billion naira, you would see the road, but you can even commit N2 billion into sports and you will begin to wonder where the money has gone.
“As a ministry that is conferred with the opportunity to enunciate policies and coordinate sports in Rivers, we assure you that in any area our attention is needed, we will not fail to step-in to ensure that the gym gets to another level,” he added.
Dave Jegede, the Technical Director of KFN, said the dojo is one of the best in the world .
“In karate, a full mat is eight by eight meters and may be two extra meters for safety areas and this dojo is eight by eight meters.
“It has a serious component for karate and martial arts training which is the conditional aspect.
“When you take a look around, you will see the gym; that gym is complete with all types of muscular articulation training, flexibility training and cardiovascular training,” he said.
The technical director also commended Purgatorio for rendering assistance in martial arts and strongly supporting the federation in karate.
“All our training programmes for the African Championship in Cameroun were done here in this dojo.
“ I have had to leave Abuja on several occasions to come and camp, and train with our athletes here.
“This dojo has produced national champions, so we cannot thank you enough for what you are doing,” he said.
Henry George, the Nigerian 2015 World Karate Champion, described seeing the international dojo in Rivers as an amazing experience.
“This is a world standard dojo that is not just for karate but complete for mix martial arts.
“This is a very big blessing. I am happy and grateful to God for using Marco Purgatorio to provide this facility in Nigeria.
“This is a clear demonstration and call that government alone cannot develop sports. We need the organised private sector and individuals to come in and intervene,’’ George said.
Okorie Sampson, a karate coach said that the facility was second to none in Nigeria.
“This is my first time of coming to this place, but believe me, what I am seeing is amazing and the best in Nigeria.
“On behalf of the coaches and athletes here, I thank you for this great feat and I believe we will make good use of this place and make Nigeria proud,” he said.
Purgatorio, the General Manager of Plantgeria Company Ltd and Tethys-Plantgeria Ltd, had lived in Port Harcourt for over 20 years.
Purgatorio, also a fitness instructor, had practised different martial arts such as judo, taekwondo and karate.
The dojo in Port Harcourt is known as Ninja Kick Boxing/Karate Club.