Recognition of our “poor” boxers continues on UAH with Ayub Kalule and Wasajja Mustapha in the ring:
In my previous article, I wrote about the career of one of Uganda’s Boxing ‘Greats’ and former Champion of the World, Ayub Kalule. I wrote a little about his performance in the ring, but the purpose was to reveal how the Boxers are cheated by those who promote and Manage them. Eventually, the higher the Boxer rises and big monies are earned, the deeper and more broke the Boxer retires!
Another Ugandan ‘Great’, Mustafa Wasajja is back home in Kampala, after a successful professional Boxing career in Denmark. Mustafa won many bouts to climb the ladder to the World tittle fight, but lost. Never mind the failure to win the tittle, but the money on the fight contract that he was supposed to earn. In professional Boxing a fighter is given a contract on which the amount of money he will earn for the fight is indicated. Whether he wins or loses, that’s it. He gets his monoy.
The trick in all this is the Promoter/ Manager’s contract which a Boxer signed as he joined the professional ranks. In this contract, a fighter’s percentage in all his earnings is clearly indicated. The Promoter/Manager takes the “Lion’s share”, leaving the fighter with very little. What is not immediately realised by the Boxer is that all the expenses regarding his training and other preparations prior to the fight are paid from his income.
Leaving in a country that uses a language you donot comprehend may be another disadvantage. The taxes you are supposed to pay are not clarified to you, but the Promoter/Manager says, “Don’t you worry about this; I’ll take care of it.” Years keep passing by and all you see in the news media is how ‘great’ you are. The feeling of ‘a Champion’ is heavenly until the retirement starts knocking at your mind. ‘Retirement’ because even the Promoter/Manager notices a decline in performance and the monies for every fight have also decreased.
The Boxer eventually “hangs up his gloves”. That’s a terminology often used to announce a retirement. Only to realise later that his Bank account is empty and in fact he owes the State a large sum of money in unpaid tax. Didn’t the Promoter/Manager say that he would “take care of them”? Eh, like the words of a politician, when the Promoter/Manager makes a statement, don’t simply think that you understood. Ask for a clarification of such important statements, otherwise, it will be too late to correct the error when such a time comes. Oh, yes, that time will certainly come and it will only leave the ‘Brave’ standing.
Our Ayub Kalule is still standing and struggling with life at home in Uganda, and so is Mustafa Wasajja. The two other Ugandan ‘Great’ Boxers found it hard to survive in a country that had changed so fast and unexpectedly. I mean the Olympic Medalists, Flyweight Leo Rwabwogo and Bantamweight Eridadi Mukwanga. May their souls rest in eternal peace. The third ‘Great’ Boxer of our time, Lightheavyweight Mathias Ouma could not endure the feeling of hopelessness in the new Uganda. He had been reinstated in the Uganda Police, but chose to take his own life. He will always be rembered as a Boxer of a unique style. He was more of an entertainer than a fighter. I remember when he outclassed Tanzania’s Heavyweight Boxer, Titus Simba in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Tanzanian spectaters did the unthinkable! They chose to cheer Mathias Ouma of Uganda as he demonstrated his superiority in the ring. One could hear the Tanzanians say, “Mathias Ouma amekuja kuwafunza wa Tanzania”. Meaning that, Mathias Ouma has come to teach the Tanzanians.
This sad news about such a ‘Great’ Boxer Randolph Turpin who also could not endure the life of poverty, surely reminds me of the ‘Great’ Sportsmen and women of Uganda who have died in poverty that could have been prevented by a caring National Council of Sports. John Akii-Bua, Judith Ayaa, Mohamed Muruli, Leo Rwabogo, Eridadi Mukwanga, only to mention a few.
During the UNLF administration, I was kindly given authority to recruit Sportsmen into the UNLA and so I did to save them not only from poverty, but also gave them protection. Thanks to Generals Tito Lutwa Okello and David Oyite Ojok. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
I don’t know how the National Council of Sports operates nowadays, I would surely have wished to have a word with the Leadership. Sportsmen and women should be protected, for they are a glue that unites Uganda like magic and yet without a word of politics, but simply filled with the spirit of brotherhood and patriotism.
Johny Byaruhanga Rubin.