Uganda Professional Boxing Commission (UPBC) president Salim Uhuru has strongly disagreed with promoter Eddie Gombya’s decision to suspend his interest in boxing considering the reasons he cites.
Gombya, the managing director of Step By Step Promotions, announced last week that he had suspended boxing promotion until UPBC sorts itself.
He cited sabotage by some UPBC members which is manifested in the contrasting responses by commission members to his request for sanctioning of fights.
In a July 6, 2019 letter to the president and the secretary general of UPBC [a copy of which we accessed], Gombya requested the commission to sanction the fights scheduled for October 6, 2019 on Wilson Street, Kampala. The bouts had four Ugandan fighters matched with unnamed Kenyan and Tanzanian opponents.
In a July 17 letter signed by Abbey Mugayi, the UPBC technical vice president acknowledged Gombya’s request: “But the technical committee shall not approve [your fights] until you bring the full list of your fight matchmaking to the technical committee for approval.”
But two days later, Gombya received another letter from another commission member, seemingly guiding and giving him a go-ahead.
“You showed your concern to why you didn’t display the other side of the opponents coming from Tanzania,” the July 19, letter reads partly. “A high level discussion with the president of UPBC…resolved that you send contracts to Tanzania, let the boxers sign them and return them to us….we hope the boxers will not turn down if they have signed those contracts.”
Probed on the reasons for his secrecy about the Tanzanian opponents, Gombya said: “Mugayi has a habit of persuading boxers to reject fights.” But Mugayi denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the matchmaker in Gombya’s previous event December 26, 2018. “How then could he accuse me of sabotage?”
But Uhuru said quitting is not the answer. “I have supported Step By Step in several ways and in that particular case, I advised Gombya to confide in me but he refused. That’s not the way things are done. I don’t want to see a promoter quit on such petty issues.”
Gombya insists: “A matchmaker doesn’t incur any costs like the organiser. It happened to me in June when Moses Golola and Kasumaali were on my fight card, but Golola was swayed into another fight, and when I cancelled my event, Mugayi took Golola and Kasumaali to fight in Arua.” Once bitten, Gombya says, “I can’t risk my money again in such a mess until UPBC sorts itself.”