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Uganda boxing team returns from Olympic Qualifiers empty handed


Ugandan boxers have one final chance in May to make the Olympics. FILE PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Uganda National Boxing Team, the Bombers will return empty handed from  the ongoing World Paris Olympic Games qualifiers, in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

All four boxers who represented the country have now been eliminated, with the team captain, Joshua Tukamuhebwa, being the last to exit the competition.

This is the second unsuccessful attempt by the Bombers to secure slots for the 2024 Paris Summer Games. Their first attempt during the continental qualifiers held in Dakar, Senegal, also ended in disappointment last year where all the six boxers were eliminated.

“Our last boxer in the Olympic qualifiers is out. No boxer has qualified for the Olympics in Italy. We have one more and last chance to qualify a boxer into the Olympics with the 3rd and last Olympic qualifier in May 2024 in Thailand,” Moses Muhangi, the Uganda Boxing Federation President told URN.

The series of disappointments began when Shafick Mawanda lost by a walkover to Singapore’s Teo Wei Xuan in the men’s 51kg category due to his failure to reach the playing venue on time. Muhangi attributed this to the organizing committee’s failure to provide a team manager to travel with the contingent.

Later, Yusuf Nkobeza also took to the ring but lost to Romania’s Andrei Aradoaie 5-0 in the men’s 80kg round of 64 preliminaries leaving the burden on Captain Tukamuhebwa and female boxer Emily Nakalema who have also been eliminated.

But before being knocked out, Tukamuhebwa had been the only beacon of hope after winning his first two bouts and was only two fights away from qualifying. First, he defeated Guatemala’s Garcia Edgar in the preliminary stage of the men’s 63kgs category before defeating Romania’s Robert Jitaru by a split decision to qualify for round of 16 where he eventually lost to Jordan’s Alkasbeh Obada.

On her side, Emily Nakalema who had earlier received a bye lost to Cape Verde’s Ivanusa Moreira 5-0 in the Women 66 kg.  “I hope this time around our bosses at National Council of Sports and Uganda Olympic Committee will listen to us as a Federation and support us fully as required with no interference. If the interference does not stop then we are likely to fail for the first time to qualify a boxer for the Olympics,” added a disappointed Muhangi.

The ongoing competition represented Uganda’s second-to-last opportunity for the four-boxer team to secure at least one of the 49 qualification slots for the Summer Olympic Games in Paris. Their last chance will be in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 23 to June 3.

Despite being one of the last chances, the team which coached by Twaibu Mayanja and assisted by  Joseph Buule has faced tremendous setbacks ranging from lack of preparations to Visa delays which ultimately frustrated the team’s travels and subsequently resulted in the disorganization that saw one of the boxer’s missing his fight.

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