Bomber Masembe still nurses Olympic dream

Thursday May 13 2021
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Hope Springs. African silver medalist Isaac Masembe could instead become a Prison warder if the Olympic dream fails. PHOTO/ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

By Abdul-Nasser Ssemugabi

Gifted featherweight boxer Isaac Masembe is yet to come to terms with the sad reality of missing out on the forthcoming Olympics but he is not about to give up on the Olympic dream.
“It was really hard for me to believe that I missed that opportunity…but the struggle continues,” the 2019 Africa Games silver medalist told Daily Monitor recently.

Highly competitive
Masembe was among the 13 Ugandans who competed at the 2020 African Olympic Qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal. 
He was also among the five Bombers who reached the semifinal of the highly-competitive event.
But he lost the semis and the eventual box-off to Ghana’s Samuel Takyi, thereby missing the third-place bronze medal and the ticket to the Olympics.

His second chance lay in the World Olympics qualifiers which were scheduled in Paris, France, but were postponed, like the Olympics, from May 2020, to June 2021, all due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was eventually cancelled in February due to a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe and the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force, which handles the boxing qualification pathway, resorted to apportioning the 53 slots according to rankings.

Favourite in vain
Masembe, ranked joint-seventh in the world with 300 points, was a favourite to qualify through this arrangement but eventually lost the ticket to Moroccan Mohamed Hamout, who stopped at the quarterfinals in Dakar, but had 335 points.
“I’m likely to turn pro sometime next year but trust me I shall come back and fight to qualify for the Olympics. That’s how much I need to represent my country at the Games.”
It was Masembe’s second loss to Hamout, who defeated him 4-1 in the 2019 African Games featherweight final.

Full Name: Isaac Masembe
Nickname: Ubuntu
Division: Featherweight
Club: Cobap
First Tourney: National Cadets 2014
National Call-Up: 2016 Junior Championship
Best Moment: African silver medal in Rabat last year
Worst Moment: Missing Tokyo Olympics
Strongest Weapon: Right Hook