Justin Juuko is easily one of the most popular Ugandan boxers here and across the world. His fame sparked from the day he and Godfrey Nyakana won gold at the Auckland Commonwealth Games in 1990 through his professional career that spanned till 2013.
His moniker ‘the Ugandan Destroyer’ was a perfect label thanks to his punching power that destroyed 45 of his professional opponents, winning several titles en route.
Solicit for help
He retired into boxing and fitness training based at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
Now that’s the profile he wants to harness to solicit help for equipment for Ugandan gyms that can help nurture more gold medallists.
“I won gold in Auckland when I was only 17 years old in my Senior Four vacation and I wonder why 25-year-olds can’t win,” Juuko said while launching the initiative at East Coast gym in Naguru last week.
“But we can’t produce great boxers with the current state of our gyms which lack even the basic equipment.”
Boxing is practical, Juuko added, and “however good the coach may be, he needs the right coaching environment and tools to ensure his instructions are perfected.”
Putting up his hand
Juuko’s concern echoes Kenny Bayless’ observations when the renowned world boxing referee visited Kampala gyms in 2015. Four years on, little if not nothing has changed.
“We can’t lamenting for help when we haven’t done anything ourselves. I might not have the money to buy the equipment we need here but I can use my image, my profile to get some.”
Juuko displayed calendars decorated by images of his fighting heyday, most noticeably his 1999 fight with the world’s best Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Every calendar is sold at a friendly Shs2000 to parents and whoever wishes boxing well. “People don’t know that boxing equipment is one of the most expensive; a good pair of gloves can cost about US$100 [Shs400,000], a punching bag about Shs500,000] but when we sell small items like calendars, we can do something. What matters is beginning and having the right mindset.”
Juuko said he wants to involve the boxers in selling process and 2018 Commonwealth bronze medalist Juma Miiro and another Desire Busuulwa are proud to be part of this noble cause.
*Commonwealth gold in Auckland 1990
*Commonwealth (British Empire) Super
*World Boxing Council International Super
*NABF Super Feather Title