Coach: Bombers in better shape than in 2018

Joshua Tukamuhebwa (R) throws a punch towards Adnan Yasin in the lightweight category during the Bombers Trials that the former won at the MTN Arena, Lugogo. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

  • Of Uganda’s 53 medals Uganda has won at the Commonwealth Games since 1958, 22 have been won by boxers, with three bronze medals from the last two editions.

Lawrence Kalyango, one of the four coaches in the national boxing team camp at Forest Park Resort, in Buloba, Wakiso, thinks the mood ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games is better than that ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Better known as Coach Lora, Kalyango, who single-handedly coached the Bombers in Gold Coast 2018 in Australia, will stay home as the six boxers and two coaches jet to Birmingham for the Games beginning July 28, but he is sure they are in better conditions.

In an interview four years ago at Kavumba Recreation Centre, where the Bombers camped for about two weeks, Kalyango, an Aiba Star Two coach, didn’t know what to expect in Gold Coast as he would be coach, cornerman, attend all technical meetings, watch his boys’ conduct, among other duties.

“Seriously, the nation has entrusted me with a huge assignment, but I will hope for the best,” he told Monitor then.

Looking back now, he said: “It was such a task, my dear. But I think I tried.”

In 2018 Uganda took five of the nine boxers who were in camp. But David Ssemujju, who travelled as a middleweight had to trim nearly 10kg in just 10 days to compete in the light welterweight division. It cost him power, no wonder he lost instantly.

“But that confusion won’t happen in Birmingham,” Kalyango assured as the team enjoyed lunch amid the refreshing breeze from the man-made lake at the camp last week.

“Everyone is assured of their weight and since we started non-residential training, we’ve been working hard to ensure each fits in and maintains their weight.”

Light sparring

Since pitching camp in Buloba on June 27, the Bombers have had no sparring partners. But Kalyango says they will count on the light sparring they have had among themselves.  

Also, Kalyango added, unlike today, in 2018 no one was sure of travelling. 
“Federation politics almost ruined everything. Remember at first there were two rival camps preparing for the Games,” he recalled.

Then at the very last hour outgoing president Kenneth Gimugu’s camp wrote to the Games organisers requesting it to block some boxers because they had been knocked out in the Bingwa wa Mabingwa tournament in Tanzania and had not rested as the international boxing rules required.

“We also didn’t have Australian visas. So we were training, but mentally, the boxers weren’t as committed as they’re today.”

Team manager Twaib Mayanja said the athletes have received some of their allowances and they will be sorted “before we travel, soon.”

Patrick Lihanda is the head coach, while 1999 All-Africa Games medallist and 2000 Olympian Abdul Tebazaalwa completes the coaching staff.

Of Uganda’s 53 medals Uganda has won at the Commonwealth Games since 1958, 22 have been won by boxers, with three bronze medals from the last two editions

Birmingham contingent 

Teddy Nakimuli    Flyweight
Joshua Tukamuhebwa    Light welter
Jonah Kyobe     Featherweight
Owen Kibira     Welterweight
Zebra Ssenyange     Light middle
Yusuf Nkobeza     Middleweight
Patrick Lihanda     Coach
Twaib Mayanja    Team manager