The Africa Olympic Qualifiers next month will be Yasin Adinan’s first major international assignment. But the sensational light weight boxer has dedicated his continental success in advance to his fallen coach.
Adinan begun boxing when he was about 10 years in the slummy Kampala suburbs of Kibuli that also nurtured Beijing Olympian Ronald Serugo. He threw his first jab under the guidance of Coach Abdallah Nassur, who was popular as Abdallah Vee. In his teens, Adinan boxed for Kavuma and Police Boxing Clubs, both based in Kibuli, en route to shocking Sweden-based veteran Atanus Mugerwa at the 2016 National Open semis.
He lost the finals to Rogers Ssemitala and missed the 2016 National Olympic trials due to an injury that kept him away from Lugogo for nearly two years.
In 2018, the once promising bantamweight returned inches taller and kilos heavier to fight for lightweight honours, winning gold at the inaugural East African Games in Burundi that same year, and emerging the best boxer at the 2019 National Open.
“All the success I have achieved and that I’m likely to achieve, for instance the gold medal I’m dreaming of in Dakar, is all due to my late coach Abdallah Nassur, who taught me boxing when I was still a little boy in Kibuli.”
Adinan regrets that his hero died in 2012, just a year before his student entered the National Novices Championship in 2013. “But I dedicate every bit of my success to him.”
The changes in Olympic weights in 2018 forced Adinan to go three kilograms up to fit in the new 63kg lightweight category, against equally gifted youngsters Isaac Ssebuufu, brother to African silver medallist David Ssemuju, and East Coast’s Joshua Tukamuhebwa.
The latter is the reason Adinan missed the African Games in Rabat last year after defeating him in the elimination trials in May. But in January, Adinan revenged by edging his fellow southpaw by split decision, to book the ticket to Dakar.
It is the second time the Bombers are camping in Luzira Prison. But it’s Adinan’s first time training inside prison walls and barbed wire fences. He is not bothered, though.
Adinan camped in Lugogo with Bombers before conquering Burundi. He also camped in Lugogo with the senior Bombers ahead of his trip to Samoa for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games, where he failed to box due to weight issues.
“This [prison] camp is better than those I have been to before,” said the Black Panther, with sweat cascading down his tough chin.
“The training is good, several coaches give us different technics. The food is good and the weather is also conducive.”
On his target in Dakar, Adinan said: “I must win that gold medal, Inshallah, and qualify for the Olympics. I feel more in shape, my movements and scoring are also better. Basically, all the Bombers in camp have the potential to qualify.”
The Wednesday late morning session overseen by six coaches, was tense. From 11.32am, through lunchtime, the Bombers begun with stretches and physicals, shadow boxing in the quadrangle, then descended into tough rounds of mitt work and sparring.
After more than an hour, Adinan sat on the concrete floor of the prison gym, for a short break. Team physician Martin Ntulume bandaged his left ankle. Soon, Adinan was back in action, throwing jabs and hooks with good footwork.
“It’s a minor injury that I got during road work in the morning. It won’t stop me from working.”