Tale of a league, pigeonhole constitution and boycotts

No Knockout. Muhangi has been packing punches all year to no visible fruits. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

  • In another conversation, Sam Lukanga, who played review committee chair, told Emmanuel Mwesigwa, a staunch Muhangi critic, that he was a powerless chairman.
  • After a UBF organised a mass covid-19 vaccination exercise for all, boxers started inter-club elimination bouts and the best faced off in the National Trials at the volleyball grounds in Lugogo in late September.

As Moses Muhangi entered his fourth year as president of Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) he masterminded the amendment of the federation’s Constitution in what opponents interpreted as a ploy to lock out opposition.

Among the changes that stirred debate are the minimum qualifications for those seeking UBF executive positions which demand: one being a certified National Technical Officer; having served as a senior or executive member of a club in good standing with the federation for five consecutive years; being a member of the outgoing UBF executive for four consecutive years.  Interestingly, when Muhangi assumed presidency in mid-2017, he had none of these qualifications. Delegates received the constitution on April 15 with Muhangi telling the media that he was lucky to get the presidency without those qualifications but the law works progressively.
The amendments also removed the general assembly’s mandate to directly vote for all executive positions, and allowed the president to appoint the first and second vice presidents, the general secretary, publicity secretary, and regional coordinators.

Leaked audio
And for one to assume an administrative position in a boxing club one must be endorsed by UBF.
In the leaked audio, Tony Ssekabira, attached to UPDF Boxing Club, said the process abrogated Article 13(12) of the 2013 constitution, which states: “a valid ballot to adopt or amend this Constitution is obtained when two-thirds of the valid votes are recorded in favour.”
Article 13 (3) says: “voting at both the annual general assembly and the extraordinary general assembly shall be by secret ballot.”

In another conversation, Sam Lukanga, who played review committee chair, told Emmanuel Mwesigwa, a staunch Muhangi critic, that he was a powerless chairman. “I can’t be chair yet I’m not in control of the discussions; I might not even attend tomorrow’s meeting,” Lukanga said, adding “But the boxing fraternity has become very cheap.”
Amid the storm, Muhangi vowed to pardon the ‘Judas’ and all have remained close to Lugogo, at least physically. The National Council of Sports (NCS) has not pronounced itself on the petition challenging the new constitution but Muhangi announced that the UBF election will happen January 22, under the amended Constitution. 

Action time
After a partial lifting of the lockdown, boxing slowly forged a return to action.
After a UBF organised a mass covid-19 vaccination exercise for all, boxers started inter-club elimination bouts and the best faced off in the National Trials at the volleyball grounds in Lugogo in late September. By early October, the top-four in each weight category were known. But the UBF stopped the tournament, ostensibly to save the best for last—the inaugural Uganda Boxing Champions League.
Two matchdays are done, spaced by two weeks. There are new rings, a new format, with elite boxers fighting without vests, like pros, among other innovations.

But the big names—Musa Shadir Bwogi, David Ssemuju and Catherine Nanziri, the 2020 Tokyo Olympians, and Africa silver medallist Isaac Masembe, among others—boycotted the event by refusing to sign prerequisite contracts, which they deem “unclear and exploitative.”
The league is also the default qualifier for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Sports Minister’s intervention only saved the league from cancellation but the boxers ignored Muhangi’s olive branch allowing them to play in the semi-professional league.
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