Olympics 2020: Ssemujju up against familiar foe, old jinx

Monday July 26 2021
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Revenge. Ssemujju has a chance to settle scores against his Algerian nemesis today. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Abdul-Nasser Ssemugabi

Uganda’s David Kavuma Ssemujju won’t need more inspiration this morning as he seeks to revenge against Algeria’s Younes Nemouchi, who denied him the Olympic ticket last year.

Ssemujju faces Nemouchi, who controversially defeated him in the semifinal of the African Olympic Qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, in the middleweight round of 32.

The loss in Dakar jeorpadised Ssemujju’s direct chance to qualify for the Olympics, because he would also lose the third-place box-off, though he eventually qualified because he was ranked fourth on the continent, just a place behind Nemouchi.

Refusal to concede defeat might mean nothing but a chance to face the same opponent at the grandest of moments makes today’s midday bout a highly anticipated affair, as both fighters seek to settle the score.

Shaking off ring rust
However, Ssemujju, ‘a Spartan whose job is to fight,’ will have to shake off the ring-rust as he has not had a competitive fight since February 2020. 

Yet his opponent has until March 2021 had six fights, winning four and losing two.
The 2019 African Games silver medalist also faces the daunting task of claiming Uganda’s first boxing win at the Olympics in 17 years, a test flyweight Catherine Nanziri failed against Japan’s Tsukimi Namiki yesterday.

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Namiki and Nanziri were both history makers– first female boxers to represent their respective countries at the Olympics. But the Japanese, a member of the armed forces who got bronze at the 2018 World Championships in New Delhi, India, was the better fighter, earning a 5-0 victory.

Sam Rukundo was the last Ugandan to claim victory in an Olympic bout en route to a quarterfinal loss at the Athens 2004 Games.

If Ssemujju progresses to the Round of 16, he will face experienced Filipino Eumir Marcial, who defeated Morocco’s Tarik Allali at the 2019 Aiba World Championships in Russia. Allali had just beaten Ssemujju to gold at the African Games final in Rabat, Morocco. Marcial got a bye to the next round.

Today| Middle (69-75kg) – 12:18PM
Y. Nemouchi (ALG)    vs.    D. Ssemujju (UGA)
Tomorrow – 11:30AM
Welter (63-69kg) – Round of 16
Shadir Bwogi (UGA)    vs.    E. Madiev (GEO)

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