The inaugural Uganda Boxing Champions League has been launched, despite recent protests from some Pugilists who refused to sign contracts.
During a two-hour launch at Kati Kati, Uganda Boxing Federation President Moses Muhangi stated that there was need to keep Boxers engaged ahead of International Competitions.
The much anticipated lucrative competition is a continuation of the National Trials that concluded in October where the top four boxers in each category progressed to the semifinals.
A couple of boxers – Yasin Adinan, Isaac Sebuufu, James Baraka and two in youth category (Ronald Eidera and Ibrahim Kemis) – qualified through the Box-offs after missing the Trials at Lugogo.
Muhangi stated that Boxing Champions League will also help contribute some income to the Boxers and the Federation as well.
“We were not making any money since the past and our only source of survival is the government of Uganda,” Muhangi commented during his key address
“And you all know that Government funding is not regular and adequate and it comes late sometimes. And also, Government most times focuses on national teams.
“So we think that by developing products like this Champions League, we can earn something. This is the first commercial product of UBF. We have had regular competitions but it has been typically amateur boxing and we were not into making money in the Sport.
“Some Federations have since moved a long way in commercialising their Sports. When you see a footballer and boxer, there is a huge gap in terms of success and well being. So we want these Boxers to improve their standards of living as well.”
Muhangi said that lack of local competitions back home has also affected the National team’s performance at the global stage.
“We last won the Olympic Medal in 1980 and its almost 40 years now when have no medal for Boxing. The last time we got a gold medal in Commonwealth was in 1990 you all remember Justin Juuko and Godfrey Nyakana. So there has not been much success since then.
“During the recent Olympics, all our boxers were eliminated at the first hurdle and its shows that there is need to improve on our competitiveness and the only way we can improve that is by having local regional competitions and sometimes if the resources are permitting we can have international friendlies as well.
“We needed to have a competition locally here that is regular, very active and competitive to sharpen our boxers but also create other advantages like I have highlighted.
“So, because of that, as a Federation we set to introduce the league which we called Champions League.
“And after we introduced it, other challenges emerged. We tried to seek for Government support in terms of resources to organise these events. We had a good idea but we did not have the money as a Federation. So we needed to make partnerships with friends and that is how we contacted Top Boy Company and they interested them with our ideas.
“They preferred to have assurance that the Boxers will be available and that is how we came up with Contracts and Codes of Contracts.”
The Contracts Saga
All Boxers who qualified to take part in the inaugural Champions League were required to sign Contracts!
Some protested including the three Tokyo Olympians Shadir Musa Bwogi, Catherine Nanziri and David Ssemujju.
Others include Juma Miiro, Isaac Masembe, Stanley Mugerwa, Joshua Male among others.
These Boxers have since last week expressed their discontent with some clauses in the Contracts in terms of Commercial Value, Longevity among others.
Fast forward, this week, the Boxers petitioned Uganda Olympic Committee and National Council of Sports to intervene into their matter.
“We had several engagements with our boxers and we explained to them that look, if you are willing to walk this journey with us as the Federation, come and sign the contracts. We know there are challenges here and there, we shall improve as we move forward but we are under this kind of situation. then also we said that Boxers who are not willing to come through, you will not take part in the Champions League.
“Then some asked that how will they be on the National team of they miss the Champions League – We explained to them the challenges in the country, we never get resources on time from Government, and we have International games coming up like the upcoming Commonwealth Games, so if by games time the Government has not given us resources to organise trials and they want us to present the National team, we shall pick the boxers who are in the Champions League because they are the ones who are competing at that particular time.
“But if the resources are there, we shall organise trials where everyone who signed and those that did not will all box and Winners go to the National team. Out of the 200 Boxers who had qualified for the Champions League, about 160 came through to sign. And of course we cannot wait for others because Boxing must start by 4th of December. Its now impossible to enter the competition for everyone who did not sign with us at this stage.”
Muhangi said that no Boxer is being victimised. They still have a chance to be on the National team and also can take part in other UBF competitions beside the Champions League.
The launch was attended by Mike Mukula, the current Vice Chairman (Eastern Region) for the ruling National Resistance Movement in Uganda, who is the UBF Patron, Seth Mulali (Top Boy Director), Dunstan Nsubuga (Uganda Olympic Committee Vice President), selected boxers and UBF officials.
Mukula who described Muhangi as “a prominent Sports Federation head” and a “gift to Ugandan Boxing” commended UBF for coming up with an initiative that will give Boxers a career.
He urged the Boxers to “have discipline, desist from drugs and also build personal brands.”
Muhangi revealed that he will be leaving for Dubai on Friday probably to sign with a company called Probellum in a deal that will see some Ugandan Boxers get a chance to fight in USA and Germany among others.
Uganda Boxing Champions League – What? When? Why? How?
The Uganda Boxing Champions League will get underway on Saturday, December 4 2021 and will be held every weekend (or bi weekly) for a whole year until December 26 2022.
Muhangi stated that then the next season will start on Saturday April 2 2023 until Saturday 26 December 2023, tentatively.
The Uganda Boxing Champions League is the league that captures the best 4 boxers from each of the 13 Boxing weights across that arise from the Uganda National Open/Trials. This will eventually create a quality pool of 312 boxers to compete against each other throughout the year.
The divisions include Junior, Youth and Elite (all men and women).
Normally, after the climax of the Uganda boxing Federation yearly National Opens Competition, there is always a lack of competitive action and boxing engagement for the National team boxers. UBCL is an opportunity to always improve on the competitiveness and readiness of the boxers.
UBCL gives boxers a chance to record more bouts to improve their chances of joining the professional paid ranks after accumulation of quality and quantity of bouts.
UBCL also gives a chance to the local technical people (referees, Judges among others) to gain experience in administering competition which experience can get them International calls UBCL being carried on a weekly or bi weekly basis gives boxing an opportunity to create local Stars or role models since they will be in the eyes of their fans more often than before.
UBCL will also generate more boxing contest for the media, and this will increase on the presence of boxing in the eyes of Ugandans.
UBCL gives boxing an opportunity to tap on the local fans that have been occupied by other Sports previously.
There will be creation of a private body that will organise, manage, produce, market, promote and execute the league plus will oversee all matters arising including welfare of boxers and officials. Uganda Boxing Federation to regulate the League and provide technical officials (referees and judges, medical, NTOs, etc) to manage the events to the World Standard.
UBCL will be a weekly or bi weekly event throughout the most part of the year. All boxers that reach the semifinal stages at the National Open Level in the 3 National Team categories of Junior, Youth and Elite qualify to participate for both the female and male.
Fights will be based on a system called round Robin within a given weight category for purposes of identifying the best boxers in each weight category based in who has collected the most points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss).
Boxers will compete for three rounds for Juniors, 4 for Youth and 5 rounds for the Elite. Bouts will be judged by 3 or 5 judges because of the semi professional nature of the league and an opportunity to prepare our boxers for Pro Boxing.
About 8 to 10 fights are organised per competition day and that will run in a season of about eight months.
During the execution of the league, Surprise acts (Boxers) from foreign countries will be invited to challenge the local boxers either monthly or on a quarterly arrangement.
Uganda Boxing Federation will be the regulator of the event to make sure all programming is in line with boxing rules and regulations. There shall be creation of independent judicial and disciplinary bodies to address concerns and matters arising from the league.