2020 Olympics: Empty Bombers to the drawing board

Uganda's Shadiri Bwogi (red) takes a punch from Georgia's Eskerkhan Madiev during their men's welter (63-69kg) preliminaries round of 16 boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Early birds. The Bombers trio of captain Shadir Bwogi, David Ssemujju and Catherine Nanziri all fell at the first time of asking, leaving so much to ponder for national boxing.

Team Uganda’s co-flag bearer and national boxing captain Shadir Bwogi capped yet another forgettable Olympic campaign for local boxing after all the three Bombers lost on their Games debut.

Bwogi entered the red corner carrying the hopes of a nation praying for just one victory. But it wasn’t about to come. Instead, the 3-1 to victory went to Georgia’s Eskerkhan Madiev, in the Round of 16 welterweight bout.

Bwogi showed the will to attack, but his failure to do so from close range and one-punch style were his biggest undoing against a taller, fitter and more experienced, albeit younger opponent.

Coach Patrick Lihanda should have prepared his fighter to adjust that style, which has made him indomitable at home, but vulnerable on the international scene.But perhaps the 17 months Bwogi has not been active, due to coronavirus disruptions, did not allow those vital adjustments.

His opponent had fought five times in 2021, against Olympic entrants.
Madiev did not punish Bwogi as much as Great Britain’s Pat McCormark at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. But the 23-year-old’s long and swift hands, which defeated Cuban-born Azerbaijani Lorenzo Sotomayor, a 2016 Olympic finalist, just did the job.

To impress the judges in boxing, you need to land quality punches and look in control of your body language. But Bwogi’s lunges in and under attack, made him look under pressure and made him miss the target, often.
He was also deducted a point after a warning by the referee.

American judge Andrew Mustacchio scored it 29-28 for Bwogi. Susanne Kopke of Germany scored it 28-28 but the three other judges gave it 30-26 to Madiev. 

The Ugandan frowned upon the result. But did he deserve better?

Ugly history lasts
The three Bombers fail the same test Ronald Serugo (2008 and 2016), Kennedy Katende (2016) have failed – winning a single bout at the Olympics in 17 years.

The last such victory was scored by lightweight Sam Rukundo against Puerto Rico’s Alexander de Jesús in the Round of 16 contest at Athens 2004.

Yet Tokyo 2020, Rio 2016 and Beijing 2008 are not the only disappointing campaigns; they just add to the equation that has denied Uganda, once a boxing powerhouse, an Olympic medal since 1980.

Between Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004, Uganda has sent nine boxers, all losing their first and only bout. Four at Sydney 2000, two at Georgia 1996, and three at Barcelona 1992 did not win a single fight at the Games. 

Felled in first bout

Athens 2004   

Jolly Katongole

Brian Mayanja

Sadat Tebazaalwa     

Joseph Lubega    

Sydney 2000

Kassim N. Adam

Jackson Asiku

Muhammed Kizito

Abdu Tabazalwa

Georgia 1996    

Franco Angetho    

Charles Kizza  

Barcelona ‘92

Fred Mutuweta

Davis Lusimbo

Godfrey Wakaabu 


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