Sydney, Australia | THE INDEPENDENT | Boxers Regarn Simbwa and Nasir Bashir who absconded from the Ugandan camp and stayed behind during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, have resurfaced and are seeking to become Australian citizens.
The boxers are living in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia under a bridging visa while awaiting transfer to a protection visa, which if approved could see them fight for Australia – maybe even at the next Olympics in Tokyo Japan.
Six Ugandans absconded during Gold Coast 2018. They were cyclist Vienna Ssekanga, weightlifters Irene Kasubo and Kalidi Batuusa, boxers Simbwa and Bashir and table tennis player Halima Nambozo.
In an interview with ABC Riverina, 22-year-old Simbwa claimed returning home would have put his life in danger, but did not give details.
“Those of us who stayed back had different issues back home whether that be politically or otherwise,” Simbwa said.
Coach Tony Abbott has taken Ssimbwa under his wings, and the boxer says he is happy with his new home,
“Wagga (Wagga) is a great place. It’s given me the opportunity to meet my welcoming coach, Tony, and my teammates. When I’m in the gym I do my best — like it’s my last time in my last fight,” Simbwa said in the interview with ABC Riverina.
Since Simbwa and Nasir walked by chance into Abbot’s camp six months ago, the trainer has not lost sight of them, especially of the 6.6ft light-heavyweight who reached the quarter-finals at the Commonwealth Games.
Simbwa’s latest target is to represent Australia — while trying to keep his place in the country.
Since moving to Wagga Wagga, Simbwa has been impressed in the ring already, and has won his six fight, including against the New South Wales Champion.
” Without his Australian citizenship, we can’t represent the state and we can’t represent the country,” Abbott told ABC Riverina .
“Obviously they miss people from home but they still keep moving along, going to work every day, coming out here and training hard every day.”