Family inspired my pursuit for greatness

Sunday October 20 2013

Family inspired my pursuit for greatness

Tony Nyangweso playing rugby in Scotland, a sport which he was inspired to play by his father and brothers.Right, Tony Nyangweso with his wife Laura and their children, Tyrone and Lucas Nyangweso. Courtesy photos. 

By Brian Mutebi

"Tony is a down to earth person, a lover of sports and I like to keep fit and healthy.

I like to socialise and interact with people. I‘m a loving husband and devoted father.

I started my education in Uganda at Buganda Road Primary School and later joined Namilyango College for my Secondary School. Thereafter, I moved to Scotland where I studied Business Administration and Using Information Technology in Business at West College Scotland and then studied at the University of the West of Scotland.

I was interested in rugby because I wanted to play a sport that involved both contact and running. The two sports I was interested in were rugby and American football. Since there was no American football in Uganda, I opted for rugby. The fact that I used to read about my two elder brothers, Leonard Were and Mike Wandera (Assistant Coach of Uganda’s rugby female national team) in the newspapers, and how good they were - I admired them and wanted to play rugby even more.

I started playing rugby in Senior One at Namilyango College. A school that is well-known for its rugby and for producing skillful rugby players. During that time, there were not that many schools playing rugby. We used to play not only against other schools like King’s College Buddo, St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Makere College and Busoga College Mwiri, but also against professional teams like Kobs, Heathens, Rhinos, Pirates and Impis.

I went on to Join Kobs during my Senior Four vacation and during this time, I learnt a lot from the senior players at the club. Kobs were very successful and won many matches and even qualified for the Mwamba Cup which mostly comprised Kenyan teams and we went on to win the cup.

I represented Uganda in the Safari Sevens and in the World Cup Sevens qualifiers in Nairobi in 2001 and that year, we won the tournament by beating Kenya in the cup finals of the Safari 7s. I also represented Uganda against Zimbabwe and Kenya in 15s aside before leaving for Scotland to study.

While in Scotland, I joined a rugby club and continued with the sport . However, I had to adapt to the cold weather as the season kicked off in late August and went on through winter.

The highest level of rugby that I have played so far is when I played for a team called the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland. It comprises professional rugby players and some of them get selected to represent Scotland.

I play for a great team called Cartha Queens Park Rugby Football Club who comprise four senior teams, a women’s team and also under 18s, under 16s and a mini rugby team. Cartha are currently top of the table in the Champoinship A league and are in contention to win the league and get promoted. I joined the club when I came over in 2001 and been there ever since. I hope my boys will play mini rugby for the club and go on to play senior rugby and even better for the nation.

Cartha is special because it reminds me of my old club Kobs now known as Dmark Kobs. The people are very friendly and welcoming. They are quick to offer any necessary help and they treat you as one of their own. I have got to know most of my team mates’ parents and have been looked after as their child.

Lessons from father
I learnt many things from my father, the most outstanding being punctuality. My father was always punctual and was never late. I also learnt discipline and humility.”

My family
I am married to a beautiful Scottish woman, Laura Nyangweso, with whom I have two boys, Tyrone who is the eldest and Lucas. They are 3years 4 months and 1year 4 months respectively. Hopefully, the boys will do some kind of sport to keep the family legacy going.

Living outside Uganda is different. I miss my home country because all my family is there and I miss them dearly. I also miss my friends. It helps that I stay with my wife and children. My best and oldest friend, Moses Bwanswa, who I came with to Scotland too has helped me through hard times and is classified as family.

My ambitions are to provide a safe environment for my children and help them in any way possible so that they can grow up to be successful. I know they will be. I want to bring them to Uganda to meet their grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins. They should also see where their ‘old man’ comes from.

Inspired by a patriot
A story is told of how former President Idi Amin challenged Major Francis Nyangweso to a boxing bout. After flooring the indefatigable Amin, Nyangweso had to run for dear life since the President could not stand the embarrassment having made sure that the match was well-publicised.

A respected sports administrator, Francis Nyangweso spent 28 years between 1975 and 2009 at the head of Uganda’s National Olympic Committee, and had been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Culture and Olympic Education Commission since 1988. He also served on Olympic Solidarity Commission in 2000-2001.

Regarded as one of Uganda’s best boxers of his generation, Nyangweso won a lightweight silver medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff and competed at the 1960 Olympics in Rome before ending his amateur career with a bronze at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth.

He served as Vice-President of the International Amateur Boxing Association from 1986 to 2006 and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa from 1974-1978.

Nyangweso stuck a close friendship with Uganda’s former dictator Idi Amin, who named him his new army commander and chief of staff after the 1971 coup that brought him to power.

He was even reported to have acted as head of state when Amin went on holiday.

On first occasion in October 1974 it has been reported that Nyangweso took on Amin, himself a former light heavyweight boxing champion, in a boxing competition, easily beating him, after the President had challenged him to “show he still had it”.

Tony Nyangweso on Olympics
Olympics to me is the ultimate arena that any athlete competes in against other elite athletes. It also the maximum goal that every serious athlete hopes to achieve and even though they win or lose, they will always be know as an Olympian in the history books. I always dream of playing in Uganda for Uganda, it is every body’s dream to represent their country.

Additional reporting from
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