|PARALYMPIC ATHLETES | MICHAEL ISHIGUZO
Interview with Michael Ishiguzo
British athlete and Amputee Football player
Michael Ishiguzo on being an amputee, disability
sports and the media
Michael, you are currently
living in the U.K., but are originally from Nigeria…
Yes, I am from a very small family of four (my dad,
mum, sister and I). I was born and grew up in LAGOS
When and how have you
lost your leg?
I had the accident that led to the amputation
of my right leg while training with my football
team, I was badly tackled and I broke my chin
and somehow it got infected with Gas gangrene
and there was nothing the doctor could do than
to amputate the leg.
When you think of the difference
in the situation for amputees in the U. K. and in
Nigeria - what comes to your mind first?
The moment you become disabled in Nigeria you are
automatically seen as a second class citizen, a
burden and a hopeless person. While in the U. K.
comparably equal opportunity is given to abled and
disabled people, sometimes priority is given to
You are using a pretty
advanced artificial leg and don't bother trying
to cover the fact that you are an amputee…
I do have an advanced artificial leg and I don’t
usually cover it because I believe that everybody
is disabled in one way or the another. Physical,
mental, spiritual and financial disabilities are
all somehow disabilities.
As an amputee you get
most probably some attention on the streets -
has there been any particular situation involving
you being different which comes to your mind right
There have been times that in the midst of people
that I had appeared differently, but being positive
was the key for me, like this day when a little
kid walked up to me after seeing my artificial leg,
and he asked me: "Are you TERMINATOR 3?" I laughed
and I said to him, no I am not TERMINATOR 3, but
TERMINATOR 4 and he walked away smiling.
The audience at sports
events for athletes with a disability is usually
still very limited – what could be the main
reasons for that? How could it be changed?
It is simply because there is not enough awareness
of this kind of sports. This could be changed
only when disabled people are involved in commercials,
TV Talk shows and other mediums of publicity so
that other people out there could get to know
more about disability sports and its athletes.
Many famous non-disabled
athletes appear in commercials - why do you think
there are hardly any commercials for athletes
with a disability?
The disability sports market’s value is
very low and this will not change until the media
sector gets fully involved and interested in disability
sports and the athletes. Make at least one or
two athletes celebrities in this area of events.
Nobody, no company will put money on an unknown
athlete or sport for a commercial, this can only
be changed by the press’ involvement in
You are a very outgoing
and easy-to-talk-to guy. If you do not mind that
personal question - how has the fact that you
are an amputee played on your personal relationships?
Being an amputee has not made any difference in
my love life, because I believe that love is not
all about looks or physiques, but the heart, and
I know that I have got the kind of heart any woman
will crave for to be hers.
On the first page we
did together - I quoted you with words like "Disability
is not an excuse, there is ability in disability."
- Is there any particular message you would like
to convey to our visitors?
Disability does not make you any more or less
than who you really are. And who you really
is not determined by your looks,
but by your inner values.
© 2004 Steffen Berk