Uganda’s National Boxing team, the Bombers, were on Tuesday flagged off to compete at the 2023 African Boxing Olympics Qualification Tournament in Dakar, Senegal.
The tournament due September 9-15, is a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics in France.
The team leaves amidst a standoff from Uganda Boxing Federation who expressed their discontent when Uganda Olympic Committee took charge of the team including selection and preparations.
The Bombers’ squad comprises of six boxers including Shadir Musa Bwogi (80kg) who makes a return to the side since turning professional.
Captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa (63.5kg) and Isaac Zebra Ssenyange (71kg) and Jonathan Kyobe (57kg) are the other big names on the team.
Grace Nankinga (50kg) is the only female boxer on the squad while Fathia Shafik Mawanda (51kg) is also on the team.
There is less confidence in what the team can achieve due to underpreparedness – The team prepared for five days at Kavumba.
In these Africa qualifiers, there is only one men’s quota berth available in each of the seven classes, with two quota spots in each women’s weight class (apart from there being just one in the 75kg division).
In short, seven men boxers (one from each weight category) will represent the African continent.
For a Ugandan male boxer to qualify to the Olympics, he must win gold in his weight! For Nankinga, reaching a final will earn her a ticket to Paris.
For boxers who fail to earn quota spots in Dakar, there will be a further opportunities at the two world qualification tournaments in Busto Arzizio, Italy from 29 February to 12 March and Bangkok, Thailand from 23 May to 3 June.
It’s strong to note that Uganda’s last medal at the Olympics was won in 1980 Moscow by John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi (silver) in the men’s Welterweight.
Shadir Musa, David Ssemujju and Catherine Nanziri were Uganda’s three representatives at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Boxers – Joshua Tukamuhebwa (63.5kg), Shadir Musa (80kg), Isaac Zebra Ssenyange (71kg), Jonathan Kyobe (57kg), Fathia Shafik Mawanda (51kg), Grace Nankinga (50kg)
Coaches – Lawrence Kalyango, Mercy Mukankusi, Hassan Mukungu