Uganda's Olympic dreams dying in Bangkok

Shadir Musa Bwogi (in red) made it to Tokyo 2020. PHOTO/COURTESY 

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The Germany-based professional came with an immaculate record of eight victories and only one loss since his debut in 2021. 

The 2nd World Boxing Olympic Qualifier happening in Bangkok, Thailand is the last qualifying event for boxers dreaming of being at the Paris 2024 Games.

But so far, Uganda’s hopes of sending at least one boxer to Paris are on the lean shoulders of Regarn Simbwa, the only one remaining in the tournament, not that he has won but because he is due to fight after getting a bye to the Round of 32 of the 92kg category. 

This follows two heartbreaking defeats to the other two Ugandans. Muzamir Kakande suffered the first elimination on Day One, losing 5-0 to Cuba’s Jorge Cuellar in the 71kg preliminaries Friday afternoon. 

The Germany-based professional came with an immaculate record of eight victories and only one loss since his debut in 2021. 

Even worries of ring rust were not in the equation because just last month he knocked out Venezuela's Jose Gregorio Marcano.Could his experience count? Or he could be disadvantaged that he is no longer familiar with finishing the business in three rounds?

Either way,  the five  judges felt  the 2017 African welterweight champion did not do enough to win. 

Kakande was so passionate about representing Uganda at the Olympics no wonder he sponsored his trip to Bangkok in pursuit of this dream. Sadly, this sudden shock. 

Could Musa Shadir Bwogi be more serious after Kakande's early exit? Maybe. But still three of the five judges preferred Tajisktan's Nekruz Salimov in that 80kg preliminaries bout on Saturday night.

Bwogi, Uganda's flag bearer at Tokyo 2020, a feat he is so fond of, may have depleted his chances of making a second Olympic appearance. The Kampala-based professional also lost instantly at the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal in September 2023.

Since the 50s, Uganda has sent boxers to every Olympic edition, except at Montreal 1976, when the entire Africa boycotted, and London 2012, at the peak of administrative wrangles.

For now though, after the continental qualifier in Dakar and the 1st World Qualifier in Busto Arsizio, Italy in March,  Paris 2024 looks an improbable goal. 

Shall Simbwa finally win the coveted ticket to the French capital? The lanky heavyweight, who stayed in Australia after the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Hungarian Koppany Feher, got byes to the Round of 32. They meet on Thursday.