Atta Soja: The aspiring heavyweight champ

Golooba and his spouse Vivian Nuwahereza enjoying  padwork. PHOTO/COURTSEY  

What you need to know:

On the same night, Bwogi stopped Tanzanian Selemani Saidi in the fifth round, his seventh victory in seven pro bouts and his fifth consecutive knockout since his debut in April 2022. 

For nearly 10 years now, Uganda has not had many serious heavyweight boxers. Many who throng boxing arenas, for amateur or professional matches, are treated to merely heavy-body masses, with very little ring craft.

Disappointed revellers, sometimes, are tempted to allege that some were picked downtown as potters and given a pair of gloves. 

But 2020 Tokyo Olympic boxer Shadir Musa Bwogi believes his friend Akhiru Golooba can be a legit heavyweight, if he stays focused. 

Backed by Bwogi's SMB Promotion, Golooba, nicknamed  Atta Soja, knocked down fellow debutant Ronald Kisakye early in the second round in one of the undercards on Great Strikers event at New Obligato on March 9.  That was a powerful entry into paid ranks, especially for a boy who never was a big name in amateur boxing.  

On the same night, Bwogi stopped Tanzanian Selemani Saidi in the fifth round, his seventh victory in seven pro bouts and his fifth consecutive knockout since his debut in April 2022. 
“Atta had a few amateur fights before turning professional. But I strongly believe he has what it takes to be a good heavyweight.

He has the size and urge to go all the way. He has a dream of being a champion. And our collaboration with him wants help him achieve that dream. And we wish him all the best,” Bwogi, one of the most renowned and experienced fighters of his generation told Saturday Sports. 

Late developer

“I grew up in a boxing environment. Boxing is the sport I have loved since childhood. I frequented the gym to watch bigger guys train and fight," Golooba said. 

He has been trained by the gifted hands of Lawrence Kalyango, famously known as Coach Lora. His stable has produced legit talents like US-based pro Ismail Muwendo, Dubai-based pro Joshua Nyanzi, former national captain Rogers Ssemitala, former multiple national champion Yusuf Babu, 2019 African Games silver medalist Isaac Masembe, just to mention a few. 

"What shows you a boxer's  potential is their will to train hard and fight. And Atta has both," Kalyango told us. "He also has the power. He will make it."

"I want to focus on boxing to become a champion and enhance my CV to target juicier opportunities like fighting for bigger purses and audiences across the globe." 

Looking around, his dream is achievable. Many of Cobap Boxing Club products and Ugandan boxers, in general, have tested such opportunities. 

For a boy raised in a boxing environment, Golooba is ironically a late-developer in the sport. Why? "Our father didn't want us to do boxing and he kept taking to homes far away from our gym," he said. 

Then when he chose to focus on boxing, he struggled with dislocations of his right arm during training or fights. 

"I think it started when I was about 15 or 16. It's mostly the right arm that gets dislocated but sometimes even the left does," Golooba confessed, with concern. 

It's a painful injury but not very common among martial arts athletes. But to Golooba it is a common condition. 

"Doctors said it is could be a family issue. And I agree because even big brother Sharif stopped fighting because of that. But I have slowly learnt how to contain it. I how to hit the hooks without hurting myself and it is slowly ceasing to be a  big concern in training and in the ring."

Sweet, sweet  science

Golooba is becoming famous for his closeness with his spouse Vivian Nuwahereza…in boxing environments. At the gym she has learnt to hold pads for him, and she is also a common presence in his dressing room and during his ring walk before she settles ringside to her dude do the thing.

“At first, she feared boxing and she never wanted to be any close. But slowly, I persuaded her and she is falling in love with it. You know it’s a good feeling to be close to the person you love in such moments. And I also want to be special like ‘that guy who trains with his wife’”

Nuwahereza plays caregiver, timekeeper, nutritional adviser, and number one supporter.

She is also getting serious with his padwork, an exercise that requires lots of energy and endurance. It’s work mostly mastered by men. And not every man. But you never underestimate a woman in love. “It’s really hard, but I am doing it for someone I love,” Nuwahereza asserted. But it did not start like this.

“Honestly at first, I did not want him into boxing. It’s a fighting game and I could feel really bad when he got hit hard. Then he had that issue of his arm getting dislocated. I could feel his pain. Even in his last amateur fight he suffered it.   

And she wants to get even better with the sweet science. May we soon see her putting on gloves? “No chance. But I want to perfect this training game; I want to be in his corner, as his senior seconder.”

Learning from the best

Golooba knows many Ugandans with more experience, but none inspires him more than Bwogi, the East and Central Africa middleweight champ. 

"I like his fighting style of powerful and accurate punches," Golooba said.

"But I also admire the way brands and markets himself. People think boxers are crooks but Shadir is keen to defeat that mindset.

"He fights well, looks presentable that's why he can secure partnerships with serious people." 


Name: Akhiru Golooba

Nickname: Atta Soja

Parents: Amina and Yusuf Golooba

Division: heavyweight

Stance: Orthodox

Mother club: Cobap