Wrestler Chief Michael Okpala, also known as “Power Mike,” dominated the sport in the early 1970s.
He was well-known in the wrestling community and left the sport as the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.
Also known as Power Mike since his name was a metaphor for strength.
Power Mike Okpala was born on August 8, 1939 as Michael Okpala to Echeobi and Janet Okpala in Neni, Anaocha Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria. He was the first of three children.
He enrolled in the Anglican Primary School in Adazi-Enu, a neighboring town near Neni when he reached primary school age. Began his athletic career at this elementary school by participating in sporting competitions. He became an amateur boxer since he was so interested in the sport.
A wrestling promoter became interested in him after seeing him act as a superman in Greece. Lebanon’s Kalie Abdulkalie trained him. He didn’t enjoy the violence of wrestling at first. He did, however, go on to become a well-known wrestler and one of Greece’s greatest at the time.
When he left Greece, he returned to Britain to compete, and here is when his career as a wrestler truly began. In 1970, he returned to Africa and defeated Gambia’s Massambula to become the African heavyweight wrestling champion and titleholder.
He traveled to Onitsha after finishing elementary school in 1952 to pursue a career in trading. While there, he joined the Dick Tiger Boxing Club as a weight amateur fighter, and Dick Tiger began to serve as his role model.
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He left Onitsha for Kano, where he started a superman show business which gave him a lot of locally.
His exhibitions in Kano had his spell bound as people from various backgrounds were longing to see him perform.
Power Mike Showmanship took him around the world in the mid-1950s.
His acts includes using his bare hands to bend a six-inch nail, lifting four heavy men with ease, engaging several men in a game of, using bare hands to break and so on.
He later went on to become a wrestler and defeated Ali Baba of Lebanon, Johnny Kwango, Power Jack, Joseph Kovacs, Judd Harris, John Tiger of Canada and a host of other notable worldwide superstars.
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He was also a promoter, bringing in international wrestlers like Mil Mascaras, Dick the “Bulldog Brower,” Buddy Rose, Michael Hayes, Mighty Igor, The Mongols, Carlos, and Chris Adams through his Power Mike International Promotions.
He belonged to The Prestigious People’s Club of Nigeria, and Okonkwo Asah (seven seven), a legendary musician, honored him in the song Power Mike.
Power Mike Death
After retiring from competitive wrestling in 1976, he passed away on March 11, 2004, at the National in Abuja.
In his native Neni, a statue was built in his honor.
Today would have been his 83rd birthday.