Solomon Geko and Nasir Bashir boxed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. But they are back, training for slots at the 2018 edition in Gold Coast, Australia.
Geko and Bashir, the most experienced among the 21 boxers, who begun training last Monday at Lugogo are hoping for better fortunes.
In Glasgow, the duo featured in light heavyweight and bantamweight respectively but never reached the medal bracket and are seeking a second chance to make amends.
Geko dropped out instantly in the preliminaries, while Bashir lost to eventual gold medallist Michael Conlan of Ireland in quarter finals. Both boxers have seen their once promising careers fall.
On a mission to right the wrongs, Geko and Bashir vow to overcome their opponents in the forthcoming trials and book places on the plane to Australia.
Marvin Omondi and Marvin Ssali are Bashir’s competitors for the bantamweight slot. He believes his experience will count. “Omondi and Ssali are quite good boxers but I am more experienced than them, so I am better,” he said.
Kawilo, Kayondo AWOL
Meanwhile, Geko is now a super heavyweight and his would-be opponents Paul Kayondo and Julius Kawilo are not in camp, which reduces Geko’s primary worries.
Fred Kavuma, vice president Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) said, “We do not know where they [Kawilo and Kayondo] are.”
Since 2014 Geko has not represented Uganda again.
His performance in local events has also been less convincing, until recently.
“All along I have been waiting for another chance,” he said. “Now that it’s here, I must do whatever it takes to win a medal for my country.”
On the other hand, Bashir went to the 2015 All-Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville, but did not enter the ring because he had not shaved his beard, as per the Aiba rules.
He has since consoled himself with medals from regional tournaments, like Bingwa Wa Mabingwa (silver) in Tanzania and Harold Obunga Memorial Cup (gold) in Kenya.
Bashir missed the 2017 African Championships in Congo-Brazzaville when he was knocked out by Geoffrey Kakeeto in the trials. Kakeeto went on to grab continental silver.
Among Uganda’s five boxers, to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Fazil Juma Kaggwa—Bashir’s boyhood friend and former East Coast club-mate—and Mike Ssekabembe got bronze medals.