Money woes: Bombers uncertain as last Olympics window draws close

Tuesday March 17 2020

African silver medalist David Ssem

African silver medalist David Ssemuju (R) and Yusuf Nkobeza would have faced off again for the ticket to Paris. Photo by John Batanude. 

By ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

Kampala- The Olympics window for pugilists is inching shut but all the Bombers can do is just look on, painfully. And maybe continue training in hope of a funding miracle tomorrow. At least for now.

Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) is unsure where at and when the boxers will resume training for the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament due in May.

The qualifiers in Paris, France, will be the last chance for boxers who have missed the Olympic ticket in the four continental qualifying events, with 56 slots up for grabs.

In February, Uganda sent 13 contenders, including five women, to the African Qualifiers in Senegal, but only captain Musa Shadir Bwogi qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics after defeating Ghana’s Jesse Lartey in the welterweight box-off on the last day.

Last chance
Bwogi’s 12 teammates and several others who didn’t make the Dakar trip have an opportunity to vie for the Olympic ticket in Paris. But their fate is still unclear.

“We will meet with the National Council of Sports (NCS) to discuss how funds will be raised for the training camp then decide on either a residential or a non-residential camp until the team leaves for Paris,” Bwogi said.
But the number of boxers will depend on the resource envelope.

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“We have an opportunity to take 12 boxers in the 12 weights we haven’t qualified but it will depend on the funds available,” he said, adding that they were also wary of the coronavirus chaos wiping out the planned qualifier.

After qualifying only one of 13 at the continental qualifiers, NCS tasked UBF to prioritise quality over quantity for the Paris tournament, where Uganda’s chances are more limited.
Moses Muhangi begs to differ. “In sports [like boxing], you’re never sure who is going to perform,” the UBF boss said.
He also ruled out favouring boxers from the Dakar expedition.

“Ideally, we’re supposed to call for fresh trials because there are many who didn’t go to Senegal but have been training and could be in good shape now. But under the circumstances, the technical committee will decide on who gets the ticket to Paris. There’s no guarantee for anyone,” Muhangi added.

He said, Bwogi would also join the camp, “though it would have been better to send him to train in Zambia, for instance.”

assemugabi@ug.nationmedia.com

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