There is indeed no substitute for preparation. The dismal performance of Uganda boxing at the just concluded Dakar Africa Olympic qualifier is a classic endorsement of this analogy.
The Bombers, as Uganda’s national boxing side are popularly known, fielded a full side of eight male and one female boxer and only managed to get one slot.
Welterweight Shadir Bwogi was Uganda’s lone qualifier in the sh 500m outing where the country fielded her first full team in a long time.
Isaac Masembe failed to qualify
If statistics are anything to go by then this could be one of Uganda’s worst qualifiers. As things stand now, this competition is only equalled by 2008 when Uganda only got Ronald Serugo as its representative.
Like Zambia, who fielded three boxers and all qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Uganda should have invested more in preparation than the actual trip.
Uganda Boxing Federation president Moses Muhangi raised the red flag early but his three-month road map was never taken seriously by the respective authorities.
More time was instead spent on squabbles on who was supposed to fund the team’s preparations. At the end of the day the team trained for only a month.
While other countries were having international build-ups the Bombers were holed in a not so impressive camp in Luzira Prisons.
Experience forms a solid base in such competitions. This was however in sharp contrast to the kind of team Uganda fielded.
Of Uganda’s 13 boxers, eight were making their international debut.
Fly weight Dissan Mubiru, Light weight Yasin Adinan, Light heavy Joshua Male, heavy weight Alex Bwambale, fly weight and Catherine Nanziri.
Together with feather weight Suzan Akello, light weight Rebecca Amongin, welter weight Emily Nakalema and middle weight Doreen Nassali were stepping in the ring at this level for the first time.
Was it therefore surprising that of these only Adinan, Bwambale, Nanziri and Nakalema registered a win? Amongst the outright losers Nanziri, Amongin and Nassali were only saved from further punishment by the referee.
Matters were not helped by a more competitive qualifier. While in previous editions a distinction was made between open boxing and the elite side of the AIBA ranks, it was a different story this time.
The qualifiers for the first time also involved traditional professionals.
Then, there was also AIBA’s elite side- the WSB and APB, who previously had their own qualifier, also brought in the mix. This undermined the open boxers’ (previously amateur) chances.
With Uganda fielding only open fighters there was always little chance of making it.
That UBF also turned a blind eye on more seasoned fighters like German based Muzamir Kakande, Nasser Bukenya (Netherlands) and Shafik Kiwanuka didn’t help matters.
Kenya too serious
Kenya for instance left nothing to chance. Their featherweight Nicholas Okoth, a double Olympian, made an easy meal of Isaac Masembe.
Vastly experienced Christine Ongare also easily punched her way past Catherine Nanziri.
Uganda main medal hope David Ssemujju also just couldn’t match Algeria’s ten fight professional Younes Nemouchi.
Coach v receptionist saga
Was it proper to drop a female coach for a receptionist?
Much as Muhangi insists that Jasmine Kobusingye is an administrator, the general view remains Mercy Mukankusi should have been on the team.
Mukankusi had earlier successfully guided Hellen Baleke to Uganda’s first female boxing medal. Mukankusi is also the national female coach.