Olympians go pro

Career Epitome. There is no turning back for former Bombers captain Bwogi (picrured), Nanziri and Ssemuju who have gone professional. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

  • In the main fight at Lugogo on April 1, Shadir will take on Herbert Mugalula in light middleweight contest, Ssemuju will face Hamza Latigo in the middleweight duel and Nanziri will face Kenyan Nichole Achieng. 

It’s been a long time coming,” said middleweight boxer David Ssemuju told upon turning professional under 12 Sports Rounds Promotions on Tuesday.

By the end of last year, Ssemuju, Musa Shadir Bwogi and Catherine Nanziri, who represented Uganda at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, looked unfocused, confused. They refused to enter the inaugural boxing Champions League, a semi-pro arrangement by the Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF), which is also the de facto qualifier for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, because the contracts were unclear on terms of payment.  Now the trio have a deal: fighting for greater fortunes. And their promoter Stephen Ssembuya, also a debutant in the game, they each will have four fights this year. Come April 1, the trio will be the centre of attraction at the Phillip Omondi Stadium in Lugogo.

In the main fight Shadir will take on Herbert Mugalula in light middleweight contest, Ssemuju will face Hamza Latigo in the middleweight duel, Nanziri will take on Kenyan Nichole Achieng.

Warning

“I’m warning every boxer who will stand in my way that I have come to conquer, to claim what is mine and sweep all honours in middleweight and welterweight,”  Shadir, 25, said, thanking his club KCCA for “all the support and allowing us to turn professional.”

For Ssemuju, also of KCCA, the decision was not out of desperation.

“Turning pro has been in my immediate plans only that we couldn’t independently decide when we also wanted to win a few medals internationally,” Ssemuju, 29, said.  “But the [amateur] federation kind of made it easier for us. This is the beginning of my quest for greater opportunities.”

Doubtless, the urge for money played a key role in the boxers’ decision as Nanziri confessed.

“It’s a good feeling. I want to experience the fight of more than three rounds, like my colleagues in the Champions League, as I partly prepare for the Commonwealth Games,” Nanziri said with a smile. “Better still, fighting for money will be a big motivation as I take on the Kenyan.”

The boxers have not completely given up on the Commonwealth Games goal. And before they make 10 pro fights they are still eligible to represent their country. “If they need us for the Games we shall be ready,” Ssemuju said.

Stanley Mugerwa will face Ibra Mukiibi in welterweight while Ssemuju’s little brother Isaac Ssebuufu will fight Godfrey Kyawaomu, among other undercards. Professional boxing boss Salim Uhuru welcomed the boxers to the paid ranks and promised them reliable support. 

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