What you need to know:
Relief. By 7:30pm Monday, some of the suspects, including 2019 African silver medalist Masembe and 2002 Commonwealth silver medalist Lubega were released from different police stations
Central Mayor Salim Uhuru has warned Moses Muhangi, the president Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) for misleading security organs and tarnishing the name of boxers. Since late Sunday night, Uhuru has been engaging security organs and spent the whole Monday at Old Kampala Police Station trying to rescue nearly 100 boxers who were arrested in a boxing event Easter Sunday.
According to a police report, dated April 18, 2022, the operation at Paradise Gardens in Biira, Nakuwadde, Wakiso District, was conducted by a joint force between police, sister forces of UPDF and intelligence agencies commanded by the Regional Police Commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police at around 6pm and arrested 300 suspected criminals who were attending a boxing event on Easter Sunday.
By 7:30pm Monday, some of the suspects, including notable boxers like 2019 African silver medalist Isaac Masembe, and 2002 Commonwealth silver medalist Joseph ‘Joey Vegas’ Lubega and coaches, were released from different police stations in and around Kampala. But hundreds more others are still under police custody.
Uhuru, who is also the Uganda Professional Boxing Commission (UPBC) president does not deny that some wrong elements masquerade as boxers but insists the massive arrest was premised on wrong intelligence.
“We have received reliable info from security that the orders came from Muhangi to stop the unsanctioned event [that it was a meeting of criminals] but my brother that’s a very wrong approach for this sport,” an agitated Uhuru said in several engagements with the media.
“That will kill boxing. Anyway you arrest them, and we rescue them. We can’t leave boxers to suffer because of the interests of one person.”
Muhangi has strongly castigated unsanctioned boxing events and is alleged to be behind the arrest. And Monday afternoon Juma Nsubuga, an emcee at UBF events, but assumed other responsibilities, confessed that UBF was behind the arrest. “I have come out to state clearly on behalf of the federation that the federation was behind the massive arrest of boxers, organisers and others at Masanafu,” Nsubuga said in a six-minute audio that spread on several WhatsApp groups.
Nsubuga cited the UBF constitution that requires a federation clearance for any open boxing event to happen.
“If you continue disregarding the law, the worst is yet to come; this is just the beginning.”
He further warned that any federation member who is caught defying the law shall be punished accordingly.
But the constitution [amended 2021] Nsubuga cites is not yet ratified by the National Council of Sports.
Muhangi also shared the audio in a group of sports journalists but refused to answer Daily Monitor’s regarding: whether Nsubuga’s confessions were the official federation position on the matter.
(When a member of the UPBC challenged Nsubuga on such a divisive message, he said he was only following his boss’ orders).
Muhangi also did not explain how Martin Ntulume, the chief UBF doctor, was also working as a medic at the unsanctioned event? It’s also unclear how he survived the arrest. Or the fate of Muzamir Ssemuddu, a contracted boxer who plays for the by-weekly Uganda Boxing Champions League, who was arrested among the suspected criminals.
Most coaches and boxers insist that banning unsanctioned friendlies, called “suicides” is killing talent identification.