Ssemuju’s emphatic victory as Olympians win pro debuts 

Shadir Musa Bwogi mocks Herbert Mugarura after knocking him down during their fight that Shadir won at Phillip Omondi stadium, Lugogo. Photos/Ismail Kezaala

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Catherine Nanziri’s win was the fastest of the night, Musa Shadir Bwogi’s was the easiest, but in between, David Ssemuju’s was the most epic. 

Catherine Nanziri’s win was the fastest of the night, Musa Shadir Bwogi’s was the easiest, but in between, David Ssemuju’s was the most epic. 

That’s the summary of the performance on the historic night when the three boxers who represented Uganda at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics opened their accounts in professional boxing at the Phillip Omondi Stadium, Lugogo. 

A few minutes to midnight, Nanziri, Uganda's first female Olympic boxer, finished off Tanzanian Husnah Zamba after just a minute, overwhelming her with a torrent of powerful head shots like she was punching a bag. 

Zamba, a late substitute for Kenyan Nichole Achieng, who did not honour the invitation, had just set the ferocious pace and when Nanziri outpaced her, the guest had no answers. Zamba beat the referee’s count but when she faced the same attack, a few seconds later, her guards couldn’t save her and the ref stopped the super bantamweight contest, without any objection. 

In red trunks and purple top, Nanziri worked the crowds by wiggling her waist, celebrating her first pro win, as Zamba suffered a fifth loss in five pro fights. 

Catherine Nanziri (L) of Uganda punches Husnah Zamba (R) of Tanzania and eventually won the fight by KO in the first round at Phillip Omondi stadium, Lugogo.

“She set the pace, I showed her I was better at that,” Nanziri told Daily Monitor. “This is just the beginning, let’s roll.”

By 12:43am the bell set off Ssemuju against Hamza Latigo in the light middleweight contest. The spectators had waited for Ssemuju long after his opponent entered the blue corner. The delay which Ssemuju later attributed to managerial issues, seemed to have affected his mental preparedness, no wonder his knee kissed the canvas as he launched his attack inside the very first minute. That’s so rare of one of the fittest boxers. 

Nevertheless, he quickly forgot his dressing room woes, closed in on the opponent and served the fans the dish of the night. It was a buffet of hard and stinging hooks and uppercuts to the body, to the chin, jaws and some jabs where necessary. That’s typical Ssemuju. 

Meanwhile, Latigo, huge body but chicken-hearted, surprised his doubters by landing some hard shots that somehow staggered the solid Ssemuju and standing the distance. 

By the third round, Ssemuju had victory clenched in his fists but failed to finish off the opponent who was about five kilograms heavier. This gave Latigo a chance to believe again. But by 1:10am, after a thrilling duel, all the three judges deservedly preferred Ssemuju. 

Even before the announcement, Latigo’s corner was congratulating their fighter for the brave show. But for taking all that punishment for the six rounds, he might need some immediate medical review.

Next, Shadir walked the talk by bullying Herbert Mugarura who virtually never landed a serious punch in the entire six rounds. 

Actually the first three rounds looked simpler than a sparring session as Mugarura incurred Shadir’s heavy shots without a response. 

But even when Shadir seemed to have run out of gas, Mugarura did nothing to capitalise on that. 

David Semuju (L) lands a right punch on to Hamza Latigo during their fight that Semuju won at Phillip Omondi stadium, Lugogo.

The former Bombers captain won a deserved unanimous decision, though the spectators wanted a more competitive main fight. 

Earlier on, Nanziri’s colleague Stanley Mugerwa rose from a slow start to stop Ibra Mukiibi in the fourth round of the super welter contest; Ssemuju’s little brother Isaac Ssebuufu stopped a resolute Godfrey Kyawaomu early in the third round; while Kasumaali got lucky a win when Swaliki ‘Tyson’ Kisitu, retired after dominating the first three rounds. 

Farouk Muwuliza claimed the first victory of the night against Andrew Kikonyogo, while Rogers Kamulegeya and Yasin Ssajjabbi played to a draw. 

Stephen Ssembuya, the CEO of 12 Sports Rounds Promotions, thanked whoever contributed to “this historic event,” and promised an even better show next. 

The promoter also reiterated his commitment to giving each of his five fighters four fights by the end of 2022.


Shadir bt Mugarura [unanimous decision]

Ssemuju bt Latigo [unanimous decision]

Nanziri bt Zamba [stoppage Round 1]

Mugerwa bt Mukiibi [stoppage Round 4] 

Ssebuufu bt Kyawaomu [stoppage Round 3]


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