The former Commonwealth champion has hailed Ugandan boxers’ inspiring show at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where Michael Sekabembe and Fazil Juma Kaggwa battle for final berths tomorrow, Moses Mugalu writes.
Godfrey Nyakana and Justin Juuko won Uganda’s last Commonwealth Games boxing gold medals in 1990. Twenty-four years on, the former is backing Uganda’s remaining pair of Michael Sekabembe and Fazil Juma Kaggwa to go for top honours in Scotland.
“We have two boys in the semifinal and I’m praying that they come back with Gold,” said Nyakana in an interview with The Observer today.
Uganda fielded five boxers; Rogers Ssemitala, Nasir Bashir, Solomon Geko, Kaggwa and Sekabembe, at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Ssemitala and Geko lost in the round of 16 while Bashir exited at the quarterfinal stage. Sekabembe and Kaggwa punched their way into semifinal medal bracket. This means each pugilist is already assured of a bronze medal.
In today’s semifinal bouts, Sekabembe faces Englishman Joseph Joyce in the super heavyweight category while Kaggwa takes on Northern Ireland’s Paddy Barnes later on. Sekabembe demonstrated his determination to win gold with a unanimous decision victory over Ghana’s Haruna Osumanu in his quarterfinals bout.
But he is in for a different and harder task against Joyce who will be bolstered by big home support through the British link in Scotland. Light flyweight Kaggwa will be out to break the Irish jinx and avenge defeat against Barnes, whose countryman Conlan eliminated Nasir Bashir in the bantamweight category.
Kaggwa scored a split decision win over Ghanain Tetteh Sulemanu Wednesday night to storm the semifinals. Nyakana, who joins the general public consensus in hailing Sekabembe and Kaggwa’s performance in Glasgow, called for more support towards boxing in the country.
“I strongly implore Uganda and Ugandans to recognize the unique boxing skills and ability we have to perform at Global Sports Events. Young and upcoming champ Fazil Juma Kaggwa has set precedent in reminding the world of Uganda’s unquestionable talent,” Nyakana said after Kaggwa’s hard-fought quarterfinal victory over Sulemanu.
“I congratulate the great Boxers from Uganda for their inspiring achievements in the current Glasgow Commonwealth Games,” he added.
Ugandan boxers have just returned to international competitions after being locked out for six years due to administrative wrangles in the sport’s local ruling body. They missed out on major events including the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India and the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
But there is widespread frustration and anger in the local sports fraternity that authorities opted to give limited slots to the boxers at the expense of non-performing disciplines to the Games in Glasgow. Uganda fielded competitors in swimming, squash, badminton, weight lifting and rugby, yet only athletics and boxing have medals to show.