Alex Bwambale was on the brink of missing the African Olympic Qualifiers beginning February 20, but the Sweden-born heavyweight boxer has his mind set on the Dakar-Senegal tournament after finally securing a Ugandan passport.
Bwambale was born 22 years ago to Ugandan immigrants in Sweden but had never visited his cradle land till late last year.
To represent Uganda he needed a Ugandan passport but he faced the tough choice of sacrificing his Swedish citizenship. He preferred dual citizenship. But he was time-barred to finish off a long bureaucratic process. He finally got a temporary passport which will last for a year.
“It was a hustle. But we thank the immigration officials for being understanding and flexible,” said Zebra Ssenyange, the manager of the Bombers camp, who played a key role in the process.
Bwambale earned his slot among the 13 who will travel to Dakar for the Olympic qualifiers after outboxing veteran Bomber Emma Kyambadde in the final National Olympic Trials in January. But Kyambadde stood the chance to replace him if Bwambale had failed to secure his Ugandan passport.
“Everything is now okay. My focus is now on training for the tournament,” Bwambale said in his natural unexcited tone, sitting on his decker bed at Luzira Prison on Tuesday.
But what went through his mind every time he imagined forfeiting his slot? “I don’t know but those things happen,” he said.
What about the time, the energy and the money he lost coming here? “It’s part of the risk package.”
And the lanky heavyweight seems to be falling in love with his motherland. You would expect a boy born and bred in the good life of Stockholm to complain about the miserly conditions in the prison camp at Luzira. But he is not. “I’ve ever been to boxing camps, not exactly like this one, but it’s okay.”
He is also keen to renew his passport after a year. “Olympic business will be done in one year but you never know…”
At the 2016 Olympics only Ronald Serugo and Kennedy Katende, both based in Sweden, represented Uganda. It’s the path Bwambale—despite winning only nine of his 22 amateur fights—wants to follow.