The Minister of State for Sports, Hamson Obua, has rallied the national team boxers preparing for the African Olympic Qualifiers to aim for nothing short of gold and to remain focused during training.
The minister, accompanied by Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi, checked in on the Bombers’ training camp inside Luzira Prison on Wednesday.
“I have come here because seeing is believing,” he said. “And I have seen.”
Having been briefed by federation boss Muhangi on the challenges the national team is facing, the minister vowed to address the issues.
Muhangi told Obua that they lack their own training facility – the reason they are using Luzira Prisons’.
The federation also lacks sponsorship.
“Your coming in is going to give us more hope,” said Muhangi, who made a passionate case for the federation he leads, saying boxing has shipped in the most number of medals than any other federation in the country.
Obua, who replaced Charles Bakkabulindi in the recent cabinet reforms, admitted that while “it is a big challenge for us, gradually, we will handle”.
He thanked the Prisons hierarchy for hosting the Bombers and urged the boxers to remain focused.
“I have come to see the conditions under which you are training – where you are training, where you are sleeping, and at the end of the day, we shall expect you to raise high [the Ugandan flag].
“Go there with the vision and mission of a gold medal,” added Obua.
“And your background must motivate you to do that,” said Obua.
“Read about the background of the people you admire in boxing. Some of them also came from the ghetto, but they ended up owning private jets, driving the most expensive cars in the whole world. You can also do it.”
“No matter your conditions, my brothers and sisters, stay focused.”
Muhangi had told the minister that the coaches training the boxers are doing so on voluntary basis.
It is understood they were picked from various excelling clubs to come and do national duty, “but none of them is being paid any money – they have strived to survive because they love the sport”.
“These boxers, some of them have families, they have to pay rent where they stay,” he had said, adding that the sh10,000 allowance they get everyday cannot sufficiently support them.
They are here because they want to do this for their country, added Muhangi.
“Honorable Minister, you will always be assured of a medal from these guys.
“If the situation was better, we believe we can get more medals. It would also attract more boxers to join the national team.”
“We think the Government can do better,” said Muhangi, who underlined that the lack of a national facility means the team cannot have constant training.
The UBF president said the federation cannot easily get money from sponsors, because they don’t have regular events going on – due to lack of basic support.
The long anticipated Africa Boxing Olympic qualifiers will be held in Senegal’s capital Dakar, scheduled for February 20 until 29.
Uganda’s 26-strong team will be trimmed down to 13 boxers (eight male and and five female) to represent the country later this month.
A place in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan (July 24 – August 9) is up for grabs.
2019 Africa Games featherweight silver medalist Isaac Masembe says the team is in good spirits.
It is the second time they are training from Luzira. The last time they did was to prep for the 2019 African Games held in Morocco.