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Greg Nwoko Historic Blog

Friday, 13 February 2015

Kriss Akabusi MBE (born Kezie Uchechukwu Duru Akabusi, 28 November 1958) is a former sprint and hurdling track and field athlete from the United Kingdom.

Born in Paddington to Nigerian parents who were studying in London, Akabusi would later be brought up in care with his brother Riba, after their parents returned to their country when he was four. Their uncle, who had been appointed as their guardian, neglected his duty, leaving the boys to be raised by abusive foster parents. Due to the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, Akabusi was unable to stay in contact with his parents, although he would later be reunited with his mother in his teens. She was determined that her son should settle in Nigeria, but while Akabusi was keen to make up for lost time with the rest of his family, he remained in the United Kingdom, eventually visiting his homeland when he was twenty-one.

It was during this time that Akabusi, who is of Igbo heritage, changed his first name from 'Kezie' to 'Kriss'. He told an interviewer in 2002: "I decided to make a new start and part of that new start was to have a new name. I spelt my name with a 'K' because I didn't want to change my initials and I want to have some connections with my past. Kezie Akabusi was the connection to my past, but Kriss Akabusi is a connection with my future." Akabusi, did however keep the middle name given to him at birth by his parents, Clive.

Akabusi joined the British Army in 1975, having a successful career in the Royal Corps of Signals before switching to the Army Physical Training Corps (as it was then called) in 1981. When he was discharged into the reserves at the end of his army career he held the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. It was during his tenure in the military that his potential in sports was discovered.


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