Sports cannot wait,” is the vibe coming from different parts of Uganda and abroad as boxers and wannabes [for lack of a better noun] are taking up the Shadow Boxing Challenge, organised by the Uganda Boxing Federation.
From makeshift gyms, to terraces, pavements, porches and sitting rooms, participants are throwing jabs, hooks and crosses, feinting, ducking, some hissing like agitated cobras, as colleagues catch the action on phone videos.
The videos are posted on the UBF social media pages to attract viewers’ reactions, before the judges pass their final verdict.
The response is so far amazing because the competition officially started Monday but videos—and not just from boxers but different sports personalities—begun flowing in just after the launch last Friday.
“They need to declare the competition done because Cobap will definitely win it,” said former Bombers captain Yusuf Babu in a tv interview. “We must win that challenge because we badly need that money,” added his teammate Isaac Masembe. Shadowboxing is an exercise used in the training for combat sports, especially, boxing mainly to prepare the muscles before one engages the body in stronger physical activity.
It is so far the safest way a boxer can train without violating the social-distancing rules because one’s opponent is just imaginary. Call it virtual boxing, as if the George Dixon, a Black Nova Scotian boxer, who popularized the technique in the 19th century, foresaw the coronavirus impact on sports. Kick boxing could soon borrow a leaf.
In the videos you see chubby bodies and lean ones taking the challenge. Some even wear the gloves as if they are in the ring proper. Others defy age boundaries. A shirtless little boy, perhaps five or six years old, is seen throwing a torrent of punches like he is hitting a speed bag with footwork guided by corns for 18 seconds.
The comments range from ‘wow’ to ‘so good.’ And by Friday [June 19] when entries end, the judges could be spoilt for choice.
Participants are required to record a 30-minute video of themselves showcasing different techniques and punches while shadow boxing; like the UBF Facebook page and post the video on that timeline. On Instagram and Twitter one can also follow, tag and mention the UBF pages with one’s video. The likes on one’s video contribute to 40 percent of the vote and the UBF Technical Committee has the final say.
Coach Patrick Lihanda heads the adjudication committee which will announce its results on June 22. The winner will take Shs1m, the runner-up Shs750,000. The third and fourth, who would have shared bronze in conventional boxing, will bag Shs500,000 and Shs250,000 respectively.
A million shillings means the world to a Ugandan boxer, especially in these Covid times. Where else could they earn that much in just half a minute?
However, to some like Pader RDC and former motor rally president Dusman Okee, money isn’t the motivation. Rather, the urge to get back into sporting groove after three months of inactivity. The same could apply to Joshua Nyanzi, a former KCCA boxer now living in the Emirates, Lacrosse Federation president Jaffari Ibrahim Makanda or Cricket Cranes assistant coach Jackson Ogwang.
UBF boss Moses Muhangi said the challenge aims to popularize boxing, check the boxers’ fitness after months without going to gyms and knock out the lockdown boredom.