Abbey Kigozi, the seasoned referee who handled the controversial Fight of the Century, in which Umar Semata surrendered to Moses Golola at Freedom City last weekend, has heaped the blame on Semata’s trainer for misadvising his fighter to quit.
In the public view Semata had edged the first round, and Golola took the second. At the start of the third they traded more blows, Golola seemingly winning the exchange, as his rapid shots pinned Semata to the ropes near his blue corner. Then Golola wrestled Semata to the canvas and immediately knocked him with his left knee. The interpretation of that crucial moment and the eventual declaration of Golola as winner is what has bred controversy.
The referee stopped action and for about five tense minutes, everyone wondered: is Semata in danger? Is he giving up? Is he fighting on? Is Golola going to be penalised or disqualified?
Eventually, Semata surrendered and by 12:51am, the referee raised Golola’s arm in victory. Semata quickly contested the result, claiming “Golola fouled me intentionally.”
Semata reiterated the claims in a Monday press conference at Grand Global Hotel in Makerere. Renowned referee Charles Wandera Mugoya backed him, arguing that “if I was in charge, I would have disqualified Golola.” (Before facing the press, Semata’s team met Mugoya, who handled the first Semata-Golola fight last October, for about 30 minutes).
Then Latif Walugembe, Semata’s trainer confessed: “I couldn’t allow my fighter go on. Because he was bleeding after being knocked when he was down, which is not allowed in K1 style and I saw the referee disqualifying the fight. It was supposed to be a technical win for us but I was so concerned when his opponent was declared winner.”
But the referee Kigozi said abandoning the fight was totally a wrong decision. “I’m very experienced as a referee and former fighter in kickboxing.
The judges and supervisor were equally competent and ruled that Golola fouled Semata but accidentally. We were supposed to penalise him. But that only happens when the opponent accepts to carry on. But Semata quit. So how do you fault the federation?” he told us on phone yesterday.
For two rounds, Golola was only punching. In video footage, Kigozi, who says he started officiating when he was still a fighter in 1998, is seen stopping action and urging the fighters to mix kick and fists.
“Semata was the better fighter because he tried to mix kicks and punches, which is essential in kickboxing,” Kigozi said, “If had given Golola a public warning and deducted a point from him, it would have benefitted Semata but his trainer didn’t give us that chance when he wrongly advised him to abandon the fight.
“Anyway I won’t blame him [the trainer] much because he’s not professional in kickboxing. He should have known better.”
Walugembe is a former boxer and was among the coaches who helped Lukanga and UPDF boxing clubs win several titles.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
Semata beat Golola by decision
Golola beat Semata by TKO