I WAS scrolling through social media and found an old post that grabbed my attention because of the names of the boxers it mentioned. Funso Banjo, Hughroy Currie, Colin Jones, Sylvester Mittee and Kostas Petrou. It was such a random selection. They were good fighters, with various levels of achievement.

As I read about each fighter, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia, the happy kind. What also got my attention was that beside Funso Banjo, it simply stated, father of Ashley and Jordan Banjo.

That is correct. Funso is their father. For those who do not know, Ashley and Jordan are now television personalities. Their popularity was born out of winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 as a part of ‘Diversity’ dance troop. More recently, Jordan was spotted in the latest I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

But Funso should be remembered for more than just being the father of Ashley and Jordan Banjo. It’s too easy to forget what boxers achieved, the challenges they overcame and the sacrifices they made, particularly if they didn’t win any major titles along the way.

Funso Banjo certainly paid his dues. As an amateur he won the Eastern Counties heavyweight title in 1978 and was the runner-up in 1980. When he turned professional a year later he went on to win his first 14 bouts and was recognised as one of the best big men in the country.

Then, in 1984, he faced American contender Marvis Frazier in a 10-rounder in Muswell Hill. Beforehand, the television commentators mentioned that Banjo’s aim was to show Frank Bruno that he was the best heavyweight in Britain. Victory over Frazier, who was in-between his losses to Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, would have launched Banjo onto the world heavyweight scene.

But Banjo lost a close points decision to Frazier on a Frank Warren bill that also included Pat Cowdell beating future belt-holder, Kelvin Seabrooks. After the loss to Frazier, Banjo would lose another very tight bout on points, this time to Hughroy Currie – an opponent Banjo had previously outscored for the Southern Area title

– in a contest for the vacant British title. Banjo’s last bout came in 1986 when he hosted another top American heavyweight, Greg Page. Funso retired after being disqualified by referee Mike Jacobs for holding. His record read 15-3 (6).

I remember Banjo training at my gym in Tottenham. I’d only had five fights at the time. As a new professional with a limited amateur career, I was keen to spar with any heavyweight in the gym or wherever I could get sparring. As explained in a previous column, that’s how I made up for my lack of experience and developed my game.

Banjo was more experienced than me but I was a 21 years old and ambitious. We sparred a few rounds. We moved around the ring looking for the other’s openings.

Quickly, Funso realised that I was better than he expected, and, to my surprise, he grabbed me and lifted me up like a weightlifter. He carried me over the top rope and dumped me out the ring then said out loud: “You’re too good, man!” We laughed and became friends.

Banjo was a businessman and had various businesses, one being a used car lot. I bought a car from him but after a few weeks the car had a mechanical problem, so Banjo instructed me to take the car back and he changed it for another one. That car had a problem too, so he changed it again.

Well, after several months of me exchanging faulty cars, he came good and gave me a Red Mercedes Benz Coupe 280CE on one condition – I could only have it for the weekend. Needless to say, I liked the car and being as though it offered significantly better value for money that the other vehicles he’d sold me, I held on to it for longer than just a couple of days.

Banjo didn’t get launched on to the world scene as he expected but he did achieve successes as a competitive boxer during a solid era. As well as that early win over Currie, he also defeated Noel Quarless, Stewart Lithgo and Ron Ellis, a South African who got the decision over a 4-0 heavyweight called Derek Williams in 1985!

The Banjo name is now recognised in entertainment because of the fame of Ashley and Jordan but I would add beside any future biography, that Funso Banjo he was not only a very good British heavyweight he was also, back in 1984, just one win away from challenging the world’s best.

To earn a living in the boxing business, as a professional boxer, takes a lot of courage. That is something that should never be forgotten.