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Mixed reactions as UBF rules Olympians out of Commonwealth team

UBF president Moses Muhangi. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The decision by the Uganda Boxing Federation to exclude former Olympians from the Bombers (national boxing team) for the 2022 Commonwealth games has generated mixed reactions from the pugilists and experts.

Recently, Moses Muhangi, the President of the Uganda Amateur Boxing Federation announced that none of the former Olympians will make it to the national team for 2022. He explained that only pugilists who are competing in the Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) Champions league will be selected.

“Ever since they left Japan, we don’t know what they are up to, so we have not seen them train, we have not seen them boxing. We have not seen them in our competition, so how can you consider someone who you don’t know what they are doing,” Muhangi told URN in an interview.

The decision affects the captain of the bombers Shadir Musa, David Ssemujju, and Catherine Nanziri since they are not participating in the champions league organised by UBF. The trio together with some other boxers rejected the mandatory contracts provided by UBF to participate in the champion’s league.

These rejected the contracts, saying that they restrict them without stipulating how they will gain from the competition. Although UBF finally allowed them to take part in the league without signing the contracts, the pugilists declined the offer for fear of being treated unfairly.

Their exclusion from the commonwealth team has prompted mixed reactions from former boxers. While some former national players have welcomed the decision by UBF, others have condemned UBF for rejecting the experienced boxers.

Sam Rukundo, the Olympic boxing coach told URN that the move by the local boxing governing body will limit Uganda’s performance in the games since the affected players had already gotten exposure after taking part in the Tokyo event.

“We have lost. When you go to the Olympics, you are competing with the world’s best. Unlike the commonwealth games, which are for a particular group of countries. Now we shall miss our players who have a good experience after participating in the Olympics games, yet this is the time we need them most, because with them, our chances of getting medals are high,” Rukundo told URN.

He asked UBF to revisit their decision if Uganda is to secure good performance in the games. “If I was the one responsible for selecting the commonwealth team, I would give priority to the Olympians and then add in other boxers. So to me, it’s very absurd that these athletes will not represent the country and pray for the leaders to change their decision,” he added.

Abdu Tebazalwa, who was part of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, believes it is time for UBF to give chance to other athletes to represent the country. Tebazalwa believes that exposure and experience cannot guarantee a good performance, adding that all fighters are capable.

On preparations, Muhangi says that the Federation is hoping to organize some international friendly games for the successful boxers in the champions league provided that the government provides funds to facilitate the friendlies.

In the same development, Muhangi revealed that only six slots are available for the bombers in the commonwealth games. “As a federation, we are going to look into our boxers depending on how they have been performing in the champions league, then we can pick which weight has been very competitive,” Muhangi told URN.

Two of the three Olympians have already joined professional boxing ranks and are expected to have their first professional bouts on April 1st, 2022.  Bwogi will take on Herbert Mugarura while his compatriot David Semujju will battle Hamza Latigo.

Catherine Nanziri who is yet to turn into professional ranks will also battle Kenya’s Nichole Achieng.



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