Ike Ibeabuchi Fighting Legal System in Arizona, To Be Released in Five Months, Part V in the Continuing Saga

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Special Report for The Nation

The long road to freedom for former heavyweight contender Ike Ibeabuchi of Nigeria, like the late Nelson Mandela, may soon come to pass. Ike Ibeabuchi, whose second conviction was overturned twice in the Nevada State Courts, yet not completely recognized, had been released before getting picked up on an old warrant from a previous first conviction. Ibeabuchi had not completed the program requirements terms of the first conviction in 2003, probably because he was unaware of them at the time of his second conviction.

Ikemefula ‘Ike’ Ibeabuchi is scheduled to be unconditionally released by the Arizona Department of Corrections on September 29, 2019, and his release supervision will be completed April 25, 2020. While his chance of regaining the boxing form he had over twenty years earlier is distant, it is likely Ibeabuchi will return to the ring if able to do so. Ibeabuchi earned three prison associate’s degrees and a paralegal certificate in prison.

Records indicate Ibeabuchi has been working recently as a laundry porter and a kitchen cook while incarcerated. Ibeabuchi was written up for disorderly conduct in March 2018 and March 2019. Ibeabuchi was also written up for disobeying verbal/written orders in November 2018, and twice during the month of April 2019, so Ibeabuchi is most definitely alive. Being found guilty of these minor infractions will not impact his release date, and more than likely Ibeabuchi’s discontent has to do with logistics and internal appeals, and denial of Ibeabuchi’s right to due process as he sees it. His last two disciplinary appeals were denied on April 2, 2018, and he was subjected to disciplinary action on April 2, 2019.

An article which appeared in the Nigerian online publication The Nation on April 21, 2019, by Taiwo Alimi, cited this reporter’s previous research on Ibeabuchi on Real Combat Media. However, Alimi’s article omitted the current updated information provided above. Alimi also stated Ibeabuchi could not get exit papers from Nigeria to return home. According to Ibeabuchi this was not so. Ibeabuchi wound up in immigration limbo after release from the Nevada prison system on his second conviction, because he preferred to apply for a green card (which he received), and he then applied for American citizenship.

According to Ike, he could have left the United States for Nigeria, but if he allowed himself to get deported in such a fashion, he would not have been allowed to come back. Ike preferred to stay and immigrate to the United States, to have the opportunity to resume his boxing career, which becomes more remote of a possibility with time. Whatever the missed program requirement on the old warrant he never knew about, my conversations with Ike told me Ike was obeying all laws in good faith related to his release so far as he knew.

Upon Ike’s release, and completion of supervision, Ike will have to answer to a detainer issued February 16, 2018, by United States Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE). His citizenship application status, which was in process before he was rearrested, could be addressed as part of this process. Ike remains on lifetime probation in the State of Arizona. Upon Ike’s release in September 2019, this reporter will try to reinitiate contact with Ike to gain more accurate information as to his precise legal situation. My many conversations with Ike after his first release several years ago showed me Ike was warm, sincere, and legally knowledgeable about all aspects of his legal situation and paperwork. Based on my contact with Ike, it is my belief Ike did not have any knowledge about the program requirements related to the old warrant regarding his first conviction many years ago, which occurred long before his second conviction whose sentence he completed.

According to Ike, his second conviction resulted from a plea bargain and poor legal advice. According to Ike, the woman who testified against him, who he was accused of accosting, was a hooker, a fact withheld by the prosecution. If he had gone to trial instead of plea bargaining the second conviction, and this fact had come out, he would have been found innocent. According to Ike, the woman was later convicted of prostitution.

Ike’s second conviction, which Nevada overturned twice on appeal, which for some reason was still not recognized, would have been a great case for The Innocence Project, which files appeals for the wrongly accused in the United States. Individuals on death row have the greatest priority, and it appears Ike never pursued this road, preferring instead to deal with his legal battles individually. In this reporter’s personal view, Ike would simply had been better off returning to Nigeria after is initial release. He wanted his U.S. citizenship. As to what legal limbo Ike will be in when he finally is released, Ike will probably try to resolve his U.S. citizenship application on release. His rearrest probably caused his immigration detainer, and he will have to answer it.

Ike’s attitude was upbeat towards resolving his cases and proving his innocence during or conversations. Ike’s late mother had a website up at one time, she loved her son very much, and wanted to help him, but unfortunately, she died while Ike was incarcerated, and she was unable to find someone of legal expertise to solve Ike’s labyrinth of legal complexities while she was alive. In my opinion, Ike’s skirmishes with the Arizona legal system probably come from the fact Ike is frustrated after serving his sentence, and getting rearrested for no reason. Ike feels this way because he is completely rehabilitated and highly educated at this point in his life. According to Ike, he would prefer to deal with court actions and lawsuits to regain control over invested money, as his late mother put his bank accounts in the hands of an attorney whom she gave power of attorney, to prevent the late promoter Cedric Kushner from accessing them.

Ike wanted to fight heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr., who is currently the leading candidate to fight Anthony Joshua for the World Heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden this coming June. If Ike does get the opportunity to return to the ring, in this reporter’s view, it will just be for the sake of being able to return to the ring. This represents Ike’s desire to return to boxing which he loved. A combination of advanced age, his past, and the unlikelihood of promoters to express an interest over two decades later, probably put Ike beyond the reach of a serious comeback in boxing, even if he has the desire.

Ike’s comeback would have had to take place no later than 2007. He could not leave Arizona after his release several years ago, that fact and his rearrest delayed his chances of a comeback beyond the point to where such a comeback would not be sensible.

Former World Welterweight champion Marcos Rene Maidana, attempting a comeback after five years of inactivity, recently abandoned it after returning to full time training for several months. The late undefeated World Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, who retired at 49-0 at age 32, attempted a comeback years later, and went into training for the chance to fight the new heavyweight champion Ingemar Johansson. After several months, Marciano abandoned his comeback attempt, none of which was known to the general public. From the thought to the deed was not so simple. George Foreman made a successful comeback to regain the world heavyweight title after a number of years in retirement. It all depends on age, health, and circumstance.

Ike has now been out of the ring over 20 years. Six years ago, at age 40 to 41, Ike perhaps could have gotten a new boxing license in an American state. Now, at age 47, in 2020, Ike’s chances of getting a boxing license here in the United States would be remote. In Nigeria, or elsewhere Africa, it could be different. Ike’s wars right now are outside of the ring.

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Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.