Former national boxer Wakaabu needs repair

The 52-year-old former Olympian Godfrey Wakaabu

What you need to know:

The 52-year-old former Olympian, nicknamed “Uncle” and “Teacher” through the 80s and 90s and whose fans and foes filled the MTN Arena, to marvel at his stylish boxing, wanders in the same ghettos many of his fans and colleagues live, but his drugged lifestyle and abject poverty created a huge wall between him and his boxing family.

If boxing greatness is all about medals, whoever knew Godfrey Wakaabu would comfortably tell you that the silver he won at the 1991 All–Africa Games Cairo, Egypt being the only major medal he has, contradicts his genius.

“He deserved much more,” many confess. 
Yet that ironic history isn’t Wakaabu’s biggest worry. For over two decades, Wakaabu has battled demons that knocked him off being Uganda’s most gifted boxer of his generation to almost a nobody.

The 52-year-old former Olympian, nicknamed “Uncle” and “Teacher” through the 80s and 90s and whose fans and foes filled the MTN Arena, to marvel at his stylish boxing, wanders in the same ghettos many of his fans and colleagues live, but his drugged lifestyle and abject poverty created a huge wall between him and his boxing family.
“Is he still living?” some wonder. “I last heard of him when he was in prison.”
For more than 10 years now Wakaabu, a father of three [some say six] has no phone, no address, no job. In Kisenyi, he hangs around the same people whose lives are equally wasted.

He was never the fatty fellow but you can count his chest bones at mere sight, because he is emaciated by the substances he loves almost as much as he loved shadow boxing. He is addicted.
He has not lost his memory and speaks with vivid nostalgia, yet facing the press he denies having health problems. But much later he confesses he sought psychotherapy.

“The problem is lack of transport funds, ‘’ he told Daily Monitor. “Can you imagine we walked to Butabika [National Referral Mental Hospital] every week to get medicine during the lockdown last year?”
Lukiya Nakasi, women chairperson Muzaana Zone, Kisenyi, agrees but notes that the gains of walking 24km to and fro die whenever Wakaabu returns to the same toxic environment where no one tells him “stop sniffing that deadly fuel.” Or “drop that tot pack.”

Ibrahim Kizito


Even then, defeating addiction is a marathon, not a sprint. And relapsing is part of the journey.
“Wakaabu is our friend and it’s absurd he can’t give up the drugs,” said Nakasi, who has been Wakaabu’s fan since the late 80s. “We first took him for treatment alongside my two brothers, who eventually abstained but Wakaabu failed. But we still hope he can change. He’s not beyond repair.”

Wakaabu thanks Andaman Daku, the Netherlands-based boxer and trainer, who has never given up on his friend. He said: “I want to help him but he must want the change.”

Ibrahim Kizito, a former KCCA striker nicknamed Kizotafor his thunderous shot, led the hunt for his brother in the ghettos. He said: “That change can only come when he’s in a residential rehab. So we need some little help to have him admitted to Butabika.”
Sources at Butabika said treatment at the general ward is about Shs10,000 per day or Shs300,000 per month. But Kizito prefers the private wing, which costs about Shs900,000 per month. Kizito, who pays for Wakaabu’s meals, wants him admitted for about six months, which will cost about Shs6m.

He is the only family member who can locate Wakaabu at will yet it took him four hours to get him on Saturday. The family is using Kizito’s mobile +256751463858 to raise support for Wakaabu.
[email protected]

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.