Tue. Mar 31st, 2020


…gists aplenty

Israel Adesanya Wins New Zealand’s Sportsman of the Year

Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya named New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year

Nigerian born Mixed Martial Arts fighter Israel Adesanya has been named the Sportman of Year in New Zealand for his exploits in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 2019.

Israel, popularly known as the Stylebender, had a glorious 2019 winning all 3 of his fights against some of the best in his division. First, he started the year by defeating veteran fighter Anderson Silver with a terrific performance at UFC 243. He then followed that up by claiming the UFC interim middleweight championship with a shocking win over Kelvin Gastelum in what was arguably the Fight of the Year. He then wrapped up the year with an unbelievable and devastating second-round KO of Robert Whittaker to become the unified UFC Middleweight Champion of the world.

Israel had earlier this year won the Fighter of the year award by MMA fighting and has now been named the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year at the 57th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards. The event is New Zealand’s pre-eminent honors ceremony for sporting excellence.

With this feat, Israel becomes the first combat sports athlete to take home the Sportsman of the Year honors, despite the country’s long history of boxing and kickboxing success.


Israel Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria on 22 July 1989. He attended Chrisland School Opebi, where he joined the school’s Taekwondo club. At the age of 10, he relocated to New Zealand along with the entire family because his father, Femi, an accountant wanted the best education for his children.

At the age of 18, Adesanya went into Kickboxing and went on to build a record 32 – 0 (32 wins, 0 defeats). In December 2017, he signed a professional fighting contract with the UFC and went on to make his official debut against Rob Wilkinson on 11 February 2018 at UFC 221.

Congratulations to the Last Stylebender, Israel Adesanya.

Another Nigerian, Anthony Joshua is also the heavyweight champion of the world in boxing.