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May 29 2017 2 29 /05 /May /2017 04:48

The literature mainly attributes the 110 meters-hurdles' Uganda national record to Jean-Baptiste Okello, courtesy of his personal best of 14.48 seconds that he established at the Olympics of 1960 in Rome. However, there is proof that John Akii-Bua established the national record in 1970 at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. This record seems to have stood it's ground for nearly fifty years!

The 20 year-old Okello and the 21 year-old Aggrey Awori represented Uganda in the high-hurdles event in Rome at the Olympics of 1960. The first round of competition, then the quarter-finals, then the semi-finals, and later the final, were all held on the same day September 3rd 1960. The preliminary round consisted of six heats, Okello was entered in the first heat, Awori was entered in the sixth heat. There were five to seven hurdlers in each heat, and the fastest four of each heat would qualify for the second round (quarter-finals). In his heat, Okello was second (14.59), he therefore moved on to the next round. Awori did not fare as well, he finished in fourth place (15.36), but still qualified for the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals were divided into four heats, each heat with six hurdlers. The fastest three in each heat would qualify for the semi-finals. In the first heat, in which Okello was placed, he finished second (14.48), and hence qualified for the semi-finals. This was a new and impressive Uganda record. Awori was eliminated after finishing fourth in the third heat (14.94).

The semi-finals consisted of two heats, each with six athletes. Okello featured in the first heat. The fastest three in each heat would move on to the final. Okello did not progress to the finals, after finishing fifth here (14.59).

Near the end of the Games, Awori and Okello would be part of Uganda's 4x100m relay team. They were disqualified in the first round. The other sprinters were Samuel Amukun and Gadi Ado. The four youngsters were the only Uganda competitors at the Olympics in Rome. Among the four, only Samuel Erasmus Amukun and Aggrey Awori would move on to representing Uganda at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Awori would establish school records in the sprints, the long jump, and the high hurdles at Harvard University, and he later become a prominent Uganda civil servant and politician. Amukun became a prominent geologist in Canada.

Some have contended that Aggrey Awori holds Uganda's 110 meters-hurdles record. He did finish the high hurdles in a meet and Harvard record of 14.2 seconds in early May 1965 at the Greater Boston Collegiate Track and Field Championships at the Harvard Stadium (Editors 1965: 8). The issue is that it was in the 120 yards-hurdles. That is very approximate, but not exactly 110 meters. Also, the conditions were not recognized or ratified by an international athletics body. There was also the factor of favorable winds.

Hidden in the annals is the 110 meters-hurdles national record that golden Olympian John Akii-Bua, who also holds the national records in the decathlon and the 400 meters, set at the 1970 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh. The Games took place from July 16th to 25th. It is commonly known that Akii-Bua finished fourth here, in the final of the 400 meters-hurdles, the beginning of his meteoric rise to stardom.

In Edinburgh, there would be three rounds of 110 meters-hurdles' competition, including the final. Each round consisted of seven hurdlers, and the fastest five in each heat would advance to the semi-finals. Akii-Bua was placed in the first heat of three heats, he advanced to the semi finals by virtue of his fourth-place finish. He finished in 14.39 seconds, clearly a new Uganda record. There does not seem to be evidence that any Ugandan has ran faster than that in the event. The winner in this heat was notably British legend David Hemery who had won gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico city where he simultaneously set a new world record.

At the Commonwealth Games of 1970 in Edinburgh, there were two semi-final heats in the 110 meters-hurdles; and Akii-Bua was placed in the second one, each consisting of eight hurdlers. The first four fastest in each semi-final heat, would advance to the finals. Akii-Bua failed to make it to the finals by finishing fifth in 14.43 seconds. But even this timing was faster than the Uganda record that Jean-Baptiste Okello erroneously holds (14.48)!

David Hemery would win in the finals (13.99) and claim gold.

 

Works Cited

Editors, "Harvard Wins Again, Fiore Sets Record." The Heights, Volume 45, No. 25 (1965): 8.

 

Jonathan Musere

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May 25 2016 4 25 /05 /May /2016 01:29
Jonathan Musere: "Africa the Dark Continent According to Foreigners"

Though the phrase, concept, or application "Dark Continent" has existed for at least four centuries, increasingly over time it came to be more significantly bestowed on Africa, more prevalently on "black" or sub-Saharan Africa. Over the recent past centuries, the region was increasingly inundated by foreign prospectors, adventurers, explorers, missionaries, biologists, geographers, and others.

Africa and Africans were as mysterious and strange to much of the rest of the world, just as the foreigners and their ways were mysterious to the Africans. The foreign presence in Africa accelerated during the Slave Trade and the Scramble for Africa.

Europeans, starting from the coast of west Africa, gradually ventured deeper and deeper into the interior of the continent. Many of them wrote down what they perceived and what their opinions were regarding the culture, religion, appearance, habitations, community, modes of living and survival, and other characteristics of the Africans and their environment. Africans were compared and contrasted to Europeans, to other Africans, and to other people. Some of these accounts were debasing, exaggerations, fabrications, illogical, and without merit. Some of the accounts were corroborative and displayed commonalities among black Africans. Veneration of and sacrifices to ancestors, superstitiousness, as well as operation of witchcraft and blood rituals were common. Women prevalently carried out the domestic work, men were warriors and hunters, and polygamy was widespread.

The renowned foreign chroniclers of Africa included, among many others, David Livingstone, Mungo Park, Hugh Clapperton, Robert Moffat, Henry M. Stanley, Samuel W. Baker, and Paul B. Du Chaillu. The extracts in this book offer a mosaic of the Africa as the Dark Continent in their eyes and descriptions. The writings on Africa and Africans sometimes took a positive, unbiased or neutral tone; they were not always negative.

Though these wandering and inconsistent writings refer to numerous African niches of eras of a distant past that prevalently involved the slave trade and colonialism, the writings are regularly quoted and also applied by mostly conservative and anti-black circles to the contemporary context of and to discredit the black person. The numerous quotations in this book are heavily referenced, and they display the writings of many prominent adventurers, travelers, explorers, missionaries, academics, anthropologists, biologists, slave-traders, slavery abolitionists, and colonialists who ventured into Africa. The writing depicts an Africa that was destabilized by the slave trade and other forms of heightened commercialism during which the African became a cheap commercial commodity who became quite vulnerable to coercion into becoming an instrument of combat and raiding, of being captured and sold domestically or internationally, of becoming sacrificed or otherwise executed even for minor infringements or pleasure. Polygamy was rife in a male-dominated Africa where women's rights were significantly limited and where women were given away as prizes or sold into marriage by those in power. In case of a crime, restitution could be in the form of giving a female child to the offended. Locals could also present their daughters to the king to be his wives; the daughters would be raised at the king's palace by older co-wives until they became of age. Men mostly served as heads of households, as hunters, and as warriors; whereas the women took care of the household and domestic chores. Still, there are instances of women serving as warriors in central and western Africa.

-----------------------------------------

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Ariko Pubns (April 30, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964596954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964596955
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
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March 5 2016 7 05 /03 /March /2016 09:34
"Henry Morton Stanley: Emergence of the Pearl of Africa," book written by Jonathan Musere
"Henry Morton Stanley: Emergence of the Pearl of Africa," book written by Jonathan Musere

Welsh-born Henry Morton Stanley who was raised in an environment of deprivation and torture is depicted in "Henry Morton Stanley: Emergence of the Pearl of Africa," by Jonathan Musere.


Against insurmountable odds, short and hard-headed Stanley gradually rose to eternally become internationally signified as an adventurous soldier, journalist, geographer, explorer, discoverer, prospector, colonialist and diplomat.


In this account Stanley is followed from his beginnings, to his migration to America where he would participate in the Civil war, to his travails along the way, and to his sailing to many parts of the world. Stanley loved to be impressive and perfectionist, he longed to be in the thick of where the action was. His ambitiousness drew him to famous figures and financiers. He would be assigned to find explorer-missionary Dr. David Livingstone in east-Central Africa, he accompanied the British Commanders during the Ashanti War and in the Battle of Magdala.


Impressed by Livingstone his friend and mentor, Stanley was glad to be assigned to east Africa to carry on where Livingstone had stopped. He continued the fact-finding mission that took him from Zanzibar, into the interior of east Africa. He recorded his impressions of the various peoples, structures, and environments that he came across. The African environment that Stanley recorded, just like the people, would vary from hostile to hospitable. Stanley came across slavers and slave traders, Hindis and Banyan, half-castes and coastal Negroes, chiefs and kings, herders and settled communities. He was always eager to take notes.


Stanley wrote and moved fast, he recorded what he observed in numerous detailed and voluminous journals and books. He managed his crew impressively; he intricately described individuals, groups, and places. Among the individuals and communities that he was quite impressed with were Lord Rumanika of Karagwe, Mtyela Mirambo of Unyamwezi, and Mutesa of Buganda.

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December 22 2015 3 22 /12 /December /2015 23:02

Ayub Kalule, born in January 1954, is unanimously regarded as the gem of Uganda boxers. Among his significant amateur accolades are the Africa (Kampala), Commonwealth Games (Christchurch), and World Championship (Havana) victories all achieved in 1974. Kalule was crowned Africa Sportsman of the Year for 1974.

Kalule whose father was a Kampala butcher, was an excellent soccer player and sprinter when he was a schoolboy. But he soon came across and was intrigued by an article on Muhammad Ali. The impetus to box was also provided by his older brother Zaid who was a good amateur boxer. Kalule trained and practiced with his brother. Though Kalule is right-handed, he largely took on the boxing stance of Zaid who was a southpaw. Kalule would develop a good jab and hook.

While on a Uganda boxing team tour in Scandinavia, early in 1976, Kalule met Danish promoter Mogens Palle who offered to place him in the professional ranks. Within a month, Kalule left Uganda for Denmark, together with his wife Ziyada, daughters Marian and Zajida. Offspring later born, in Denmark included daughter Dauswa and son Sadat. Pressure had been placed on Kalule to remain in the amateur ranks, but his outstanding boxing success, the prospects of lucrative paychecks abroad, and the deteriorating political and economic climate during those years of the Idi Amin military regime, encouraged many Uganda boxers to leave for Europe. Some of the other pugilists who left Uganda in the 1970's to box in Europe include Vitalish Bbege, Shadrach Odhiambo, Mustapha Wasajja, Cornelius Bbosa-Edwards, and Joseph Nsubuga. But it was also an era in which the numbers of Africans entering the professional realm was accelerating. Many Kenyan and Nigerian boxing champions also migrated for the lucrative fighting opportunities.

Kalule debuted as a professional pugilist in April 1976 in Copenhagen. Contrary to popular belief, he was not part of the Uganda team that was selected for the consequently boycotted Olympics in Montreal (July 18-31, 1976). The Uganda team for Montreal included John Baker Muwanga (bantamweight), Venostos Ochira (light-flyweight), Adroni Butambeki (flyweight), Cornelius Boza-Edwards (featherweight), David Ssenyonjo (lightweight), Jones Okoth (light-welterweight), Vitalish Bbege (welterweight), and John Odhiambo (light-middleweight). And though listed, Boza-Edwards (future professional world champion) had already migrated to England and even represented England in at least three dual tournaments in early 1976. They were against Ireland, Denmark, and USA, and Boza-Edwards won in all of them.

In November 1977, Kalule became the leading contender for the World boxing Association (WBA). However, it would be nearly a full two years later, even after suing and legal action by Kalule's management, that Kalule would be given a chance at the title. Mogen Palle would spend $20000 on traveling and pressing the WBA to maintain Kalule as number one contender and give him a shot at the title. The WBA was recognized as an extravagant, carefree, and flashy "fraternal club of Latin Americans" manned principally by Panamanians who had lucrative ties with apartheid South Africa and the Far East. The WBA sanctioned ridiculous title bouts, while blocking boxers that were far highly ranked. Mogens

Palle would charge:

"These WBA people are all liars. Unless you send them mail that is registered, they claim they never receive it. You ask...for the rules, and they say they'll send them, but...never do. You ask for justice...they say be patient. ...They don't want anyone to have the rules, so no one will know when they are breaking them. When only the top people have the rules, they can play any game they want." (Putman 1981)

Kalule became the Commonwealth middleweight champion when he knocked out Al Korovou of Fiji in May 1978 in Copenhagen. His biggest crown was his win over the Japanese Masashi Kudo whom he defeated in Tokyo, in October 1979, for the WBA junior-middleweight belt. His shot at the world title, for which he had been the foremost contender for more than a year, had for long been overdue. Kalule successfully defended his title four times, all the bouts in Denmark. At this time, apart from that one time in Tokyo, Kalule had never fought professionally outside Denmark. Kalule had, after tennis star Bjorn Borge, become the next renowned sports celebrity in Denmark.

The boxing world was quite divided as to who would win in the bout between 24 year-old "Sugar" Ray Charles Leonard and undefeated 27 year-old Kalule. Leonard had watched tapes of Kalule boxing and he said that he was, "quite impressed with Kalule's constant attack; he fights with determination." (AP 1981: 9)

Kalule's strength lay in his being ambidextrous, in his strength, in his hard body, and in his stamina which were major factors in his wearing down opponents. But Kalule was more of a body-banger than a head-hunter. Though undefeated, Kalule's knockout record was not excellent. Kalule had knocked out 18 of his opponents in his 36 professional bouts. And though impressed with aspects of Kalule, 5'10" Ray Leonard regarded 5'9" Kalule as merely an advanced amateur fighter who in the ring stands straight-up in typical European style and goes directly to his opponent. And according to Leonard, Kalule was not fast enough in the ring. Though Kalule respected Leonard's skills and status, Kalule was disappointed that popular Leonard was being treated as a Muhammad Ali, while he himself was being treated as the mediocre opponent and underdog.

While Leonard acknowledged that Kalule was a fit and well conditioned boxer who would be difficult to beat, the American predicted that he would end the fight within 10 rounds. On the other hand, renowned trainer Bob Arum was apparently Kalule's biggest booster. He remarked, I expect it to go 15 tough rounds and I expect people to be standing at the end waiting to hear who won, and that winner being Kalule" (UPI 1981: 13). Kalule who had never been knocked down in a professional bout was adamant that Leonard had never faced an opponent like him, and that he would take his title back to Denmark. Kalule trained for much longer hours in the gym than did Leonard. Kalule's trainer Borge Krogh, and his masseur Tage Nielsen were confident about their Ugandan fighter.

Leonard, the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion would be attempting, in the quest for Kalule's title, to become boxing's only current dual title-holder. Impressive Leonard had only lost one fight in his professional career--a loss to legendary Roberto Duran of Panama.

In December 1979, in Denmark, 25 year-old Kalule defended his newly acquired WBA junior-middleweight title against American Steve Gregory who happened to be ranked third in the world. Gregory was also a sparring partner of Ray Leonard, both under renowned coach Angelo Dundee who was in Gregory's corner during the fight with Kalule. Some suggested that Gregory was deliberately matched and sent over to Denmark as a test for the possible future Kalule vs. Leonard bout. Though Gregory was undefeated and highly ranked, he had not been as tested in the ring with tough opponents--he was the underdog.

Kalule outclassed and would out-point Gregory, whose hand became injured in the first round and who spent most of the time back-pedaling or hanging against the ropes, by a wide margin. The winner would take home an impressive $80000, and the loser grossed $40000.

The world championship bout with Leonard, which was broadcast on short-circuit television, took place at Astrodome in Houston, amidst a crowd of between 25000 and 30000, on 25 June 1981. Leonard was guaranteed gross earnings of at least $2.5 million; while Kalule was guaranteed at least $150000. This would be Kalule's greatest fight.

Surprisingly, Leonard was in the first and second round the attacker of the solidly built Kalule. Leonard was the faster and more agile of the two boxers. This enabled him to hit Kalule as the champion struggled to figure Leonard out. Leonard's compact jab convincingly penetrated Kalule's defenses. The third round differed. Later on it would be revealed that a left hook delivery to Kalule's head had resulted in the bruising of Leonard's middle finger. The handicap would became permanent. Though the injury was troubling, Leonard valiantly attacked Kalule in round four, even dazing him a couple of times. Finishing Kalule off still remained hard, as Leonard seemed to ran into a brick wall each time he tried to subdue Kalule. The powerful exchange demonstrated just how unyielding and sturdy Kalule was.

Into round five, Kalule would establish control, mostly with his right hand. In round seven Kalule delivered a right to the challenger's head. The blow knocked the Leonard off-balance. The challenger did recover, but Kalule gained confidence. Kalule exerted more toughness in the eighth round; Leonard was tiring and Kalule was establishing the upper hand. The ninth round was interesting. The pugilists looked exhausted but determined. The non-stop and no-holding exchange that had continued from the beginning of the bout did not show signs of waning.

Sturdy Kalule went on absorbing the challenger's faster and more accurate punches in exchange for champion's bruising, ambidextrous, and unpredictable blows. However the challenger did seem to sense that given the formidability of Kalule, the best solution would be for him to take the risk of delivering a quick flurry of combinations that would potentially disable Kalule. Leonard seemingly sensed that strong Kalule was also getting tired and slowing down. Near the end of round 9,

Leonard delivered a series of hard combinations that seemingly confused the champion. A flash right hand knocked Kalule to the ground into a sitting position. He did not seem to be unduly hurt. He got up at the count of six, and backed up to the ropes of the neutral corner to further recover. The referee looked into Kalule's face as he continued to count. Though Kalule stood up straight, the referee might not have been convinced that Kalule was ready to continue fighting. Kalule, who had heretofore never been knocked down and was probably temporarily at loss about how to react, did not raise his gloves to his face and step forward from the ropes to indicate as is the tradition, that he was ready to continue. The referee waved off the fight! Kalule appeared to be stunned by the stoppage, he shrugged his shoulders and arms in a protesting stance.

Most spectators probably opined that the fight was stopped prematurely, especially given that it was a global championship bought and given that Kalule was conscious enough to continue. Also, before the referee stopped counting, the ninth round had ended...but the bell was not rang. Ultimately, the fight was ruled as having been stopped at 3 minutes and 6 seconds of the ninth round. Kalule had hence been entitled to a minute-long stool corner interval, before moving on to the tenth round.

Was the stoppage deliberate or otherwise a case of language miscommunication between Kalule and the Panamanian Spanish-speaking referee Carlos Berrocal who was also an assigned judge in the fight? Also one of the two-ringside judges was a Panamanian (Harmodio Cedeno), the other one was a Puerto Rican (Ismael Wiso Fernandez). And this was USA territory, popular Sugar Ray Leonard was a golden Olympian, one regarded as Muhammad Ali's successor in terms of speed, skill, antics, and looks. Before the fight was stopped, the referees had scored Leonard as ahead by a couple of points: Berrocal (78-76), Cedeno (78-76), Fernandez (78-75).

Would Leonard have defeated Kalule if the fight had been allowed to continue? Probably. But though Kalule's side was partly disappointed about the seemingly pre-mature stoppage of the fight, they were graceful about it and even conceded defeat. Kalule had planned to mount a full attack on Leonard after the ninth round, but then the knockdown had derailed the plan. Kalule, with his reserve of stamina was accustomed to fighting full bouts to the end. This was a 15-round title fight. Kalule conceded that Leonard was physically stronger than he had expected, Leonard admitted that Kalule was one of the best fighters that he had encountered. At this point only Roberto Duran of Panama had blemished Leonard's record. Leonard would later in the year, in September 1981, defeat fellow American Thomas Hearns and be crowned USA Boxer of the Year. The fight with Kalule was regarded as a build-up for the fight against Hearns. A photo of Ayub Kalule fighting Ray Leonard graced the cover of "Sports Illustrated" of 6 July 1981.

After the fight with Leonard, Kalule would continue to fight at an average of three bouts a year--mostly in Denmark. He failed to recover the WBA junior middleweight title when he was knocked out in the tenth round by American Davey Moore in the middle of July 1982 in New Jersey.

In November also in Atlantic City, in a non-title bout with Jamaican legend Mike McCallum, Kalule retired in the seventh round. In July 1985, in Copenhagen, Kalule won the vacant European Boxing Union (EBU) middleweight title when he knocked out Pierre Joly from Martinique. In December Kalule successfully defended his EBU title with a split decision win over legendary Sumbu Kalambay from Congo. In September 1986, in Sheffield, the Ugandan lost the title to Herol Graham when he was knocked out in the tenth round. This spelled the end of Kalule's professional boxing career in which he impressively won 46 fights (23 knockouts), lost 4 (all by knockout), and drew none. He now lives in Uganda.

Works Cited

AP, "Sugar Ray Calls Foe 'Advanced Amateur'." Milwaukee Sentinel, (23 June, 1981).

Putman, Pat. "Fighting the Rulers of the WBA." Sports Vault Illustrated

(23 March 1981).

UPI. "Leonard, Hearns Fight Tonight." Logansport Pharos-Tribune (25 June, 1981).

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October 28 2015 4 28 /10 /October /2015 12:51

John Baker Muwanga, one of the best regarded of Uganda's boxing champions, was born on April 2nd 1956 in the vicinity of Kampala, growing up in Nsambya. Joseph Nsubuga, another of Uganda's renowned former boxers, was Muwanga's older half-brother.

Equally unique and fascinating is how Muwanga started boxing, how he progressed, and why and how he hang up his gloves. His pathway to boxing started when his half-brother Nsubuga who was born in Kenya in the early 1950's showed up in 1963 at the family home in Nsambya while accompanied by his sister and mother. The father of the children had been employed by East African Railways and Harbors where he worked in Kenya. Muwanga was delighted to have an older brother around. Nsubuga had dabbled at boxing. Soon, Muwanga would accompany Nsubuga to the Police Boxing club in Nsambya, a few times. But Muwanga was not impressed with the sport. Also, Muwanga's mother would soon vacate the house, taking with him Muwanga and one of his sisters to live elsewhere. He soon ended up being a pupil in Mugwanya Preparatory School (Kabojja), a boarding school; and thereafter he was transferred to the sister school St. Savio Primary School on Entebbe Road.

At Savio in 1969, Muwanga ended up fighting a bully who happened to be the son of a politically prominent person. Muwanga was expelled from school as a result. His father was very furious, and assured him that he would never amount to anything. Meanwhile brother Nsubuga was making steady boxing progress, Muwanga got the attention for just happening to be the brother--although he was put down as comparatively weak and not as tough as his boxing brother. It is here that Muwanga decided to try boxing. He was matched with play opponents, he was badly beaten and laughed at. People from northern Uganda were reputed to be good fighters, and Muwanga was discouraged from continuing with boxing on the grounds that such boxers would, "kill you for nothing." But the taunting just made Muwanga the more determined to disprove skeptics.

Muwanga dared to enroll in the national junior championships which were held at the Nsambya Police shed. He would represent Nsambya Boxing Club. At that place and time, those days, medical tests were not up to standard and were not taken seriously. Muwanga was allowed to box. He was matched with an opponent Tilima from Naguru boxing Club. In the fight, Muwanga did not prove himself; his opponent who was much better than him did his best not to humiliate him. Tilima even pretended to be knocked down, even when he had not been hit. Muwanga writes (Personal communication, 10 June 2014):

"What a show!!! This guy tried everything not to humiliate me but failed people laughed until tears run down there cheeks. The guy even pretended to be knocked down by the air of a punch I had swung some 10 inches away from him. He got a warning for that. I lost and the crowd laughed."

Muwanga's associates would laugh at him because of that fight. This caused him to strive the more to become a good boxer. Early on a Sunday he decided to go to Kampala Boxing Club in Nakivubo. Muwanga writes, "I went to KBC in Nakivubo, determined to learn how to box or die" (Personal communication, 10 June 2014). The club was closed.

Muwanga returned to KBC early the next morning. There a fellow James Bond Okwaare made fun of how Muwanga had boxed. Okwaare was quickly rebuked by the national coach Erias Gabiraali. Muwanga started training there as he got to know some of the national boxers who dropped in. These inclued Ayub Kalule, Cornelius Bbosa Boza-Edwards, Mustafa Wasajja, Ben Ochan, Alex Odhiambo, Ochodomuge, and David Jackson. Even Muwanga's brother Nsubuga would drop in. In concluding words Muwanga writes (Personal communication, 10 June 2014):

"One day I was shocked to hear that my brother was going to Scotland [Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, 1970] to represent Uganda. I could not believe, not only that other urchins from the 'village' were also going, to make the pie sweeter boys from the slum next door which was Katwe Kinyoro, the likes of John Opio were also in the team!!! There was justice in honest sweat, hard work and discipline...the rest is history."

At the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, on July 18th 1970, 16 year-old Joseph Oscar Nsubuga (lightweight) was defeated by points decision by Olympian Kenneth Mwansa of Zambia in the preliminary round.

At the Commonwealth Games of 1974 held in Christchurch, 20 year-old Nsubuga now a light-welterweight defeated Philip Sapak of Papua New Guinea. This happened in the preliminary first round on January 27th when the referee halted the fight early after Nsubuga had quickly overwhelmed his opponent. However, in the quarter-finals that were held two days later, James Douglas of Scotland defeated Nsubuga by points and thereby halted Nsubuga's quest for a medal.

Months later, in August 1974, Nsubuga, fighting as a middleweight, would win a bronze medal at the inaugural World Amateur Boxing Championships in Havana. Nsubuga had moved up to the middleweight division.

The TSC Tournament was held at the Dynamo-Sporthalle in Berlin during October 3-7, 1974. In the quarter-finals, Nsubuga fighting as a middleweight beat Zaprianov (Bulgaria) by points. But in the semi-finals he was beaten, by points, by Peter Tiepold of the German Democratic Republic. He settled for the bronze medal. here Ugandans performed remarkably well: James Odwori (flyweight) and Ayub Kalule (light-welterweight) won gold; Vitalish Bbege (welterweight) won the silver medal.

Nsubuga would debut as a professional in May 1975 whereby he moved to Finland then to Norway; he would mostly fight in Europe. Nsubuga stopped competing in 1981 after he was knocked out by famous future world champion Davey Moore. Nsubuga's most signified fight was his spirited gladiator battle (non-title bout) with renowned Panamanian Roberto Duran on January 13th 1980 in Las Vegas. The Panamanian seemed to be tiring, but Joseph "Stoneface" Nsubuga was knocked out at the end of the fourth round. He retired from boxing in 1981 with an impressive record of 18 wins and 3 losses. Nsubuga passed away in Helsinki on May 4th 2013, aged 59.

During the 1970's while at Namasagali College in Kamuli District in Uganda, Muwanga displayed himself as a skillful, dreaded, and popular boxer. At the amateur national level, he is said to have defeated renowned future world champion and fellow Ugandan Cornelius Boza-Edwards (Bbosa) twice. In April 1973, the annual Golden Belt Tournament took place in Bucharest. Most of the winners and silver medalists turned out to be Cubans and Romanians. It was here that Muwanga, aged 17, first participated in international competition. Here Muwanga, together with his accomplices on the Uganda team--Ayub Kalule, Vitalish Bbege, and James Odwori--all won bronze medals in Romania. Later in the same 1973, Muwanga fought for Uganda twice in two Urafiki (Kenya vs. Uganda) tournaments; he was victorious. Muwanga soon became overwhelmed when the veteran Ugandan boxing legend Alex Odhiambo, who had heretofore been so critical of the younger boxer, subsequently gave him the nod and the thumbs up!

At the local level and during training, Muwanga did fight Odwori and another famous Uganda boxer "Kabaka" Nasego several times, but he did not win. Among the Ugandans he beat were Vincent Byarugaba, and several others. Muwanga's stint as a national amateur boxer were from 1973 to 1977 when he was also a student at Namasagali College; thereafter he attended Oslo University while he fought as a professional. Muwanga recalls that at training camp, where behavioral attitudes varied from boxer to boxer, as admired example the skillful Odwori was particularly talkative, whereas Ayub Kalule preferred action to words (Personal communication, 29 October 2015):

"...guys like Ayub Kalule...preferred action to talk, a phenomena in my opinion. James Odouri talked a mile a minute but, had the rare ability to back up whatever he said. A very rare quality. We called him 'Kasuku' [parrot] behind his back."

John Muwanga, as a light-flyweight represented Uganda at the inaugural world amateur championships held in Havana in August 1974. Notably Kalule and Nsubuga here won gold and bronze, respectively. Muwanga was eliminated in the preliminary round by a points decision in favor of Bejhan Fuchedzhiyev (Bulgaria). Quite notable is the aspect that a massive six of the Uganda contingent in Havana had studied at Namasagali--one of the few schools in Uganda that embraced boxing. In addition to Muwanga, those boxers that did attend Namasagali included Nsubuga, Odwori, John Byaruhanga, Vincent Byarugaba, and Shadrack Odhiambo.

Muwanga's national status continued to rise and at age 20 he was selected to represent Uganda at the summer Olympics in Montreal. Most African countries, twenty-eight of them, boycotted the Montreal Olympic Games of 1976 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to bar from the Olympics countries from which athletes had participated in sporting events in apartheid South Africa. The New Zealand Rugby team was then touring South Africa. Countries like China, Iraq, and Guyana also withdrew; although with China it primarily had to do with a political name recognition issue--non-recognition of "Republic of China" vs. "Peoples' Republic of China."

The Uganda boxers withdrawn from participation because of the boycott included Baker Muwanga (bantamweight) alongside Venostos Ochira (light-flyweight), Adroni Butambeki (flyweight), Cornelius Boza-Edwards (Bbosa) (featherweight), David Ssenyonjo (lightweight), Jones Okoth (light-welterweight), Vitalish Bbege (welterweight), and John Odhiambo (light-middleweight). Non of these pugilists had represented Uganda at the 1972 Olympics held in Munich. Vitalish Bbege had won gold at the Africa Boxing Championships held in Kampala in 1974.

Muwanga started his professional career in Norway in April 1978, and ended it in October 1982. He mostly boxed as a lightweight. All his bouts took place in Norway, aside from the final two that took place in Finland. He did not lose any of the bouts but he likely would have liked to be exposed to more intensive competition and to also box in western countries where there are more top contenders and champions. A factor was the banning of professional boxing in Norway, this officially effective from the beginning of 1981.

Muwanga ended as undefeated as a professional boxer with 15 wins, 0 losses, with 6 knockouts (Boxrec.com). He regrets to some extend that he did not flourish as much as he would have wanted to as a boxer, but at the same time he is grateful that boxing took him to places and opened to him many advantages. He writes, "...my boxing career, in my opinion was not as exciting as I wanted it to be but I'm not complaining it opened a lot of doors for me and got me into places I never thought I would see..." (Personal communication, 10 June 2014).

Jonathan Musere

Repost 0
October 26 2015 2 26 /10 /October /2015 20:15

Pugilist John Munduga, a Lugbara of northwestern Uganda ancestry was one of the nation's top boxers during his amateur career of the late 1970's and early 1980's. He was conspicuous for his lean build and tallness. Though he was in the lower weight classes, he was slightly over 6 feet tall. He has been regarded as one of the most skillful of Ugandan boxers. He would dabble as captain of the Uganda boxing team as he represented Uganda in several regional tournaments. Munduga competed at the summer Olympics that were held in Moscow in 1980, and he was there the national captain. As a professional, he fought in Europe and the United States where he brawled with several famous and top boxers. Munduga had a very high knockout ratio, and he remained undefeated for a relatively long time. He now resides in his native Uganda (in Naguru where he was born) where he is a high school coach and trainer--notably at Kololo High School near Kampala. During 2000, he was the national coach of the Rwanda boxing team.

Munduga was born on January 15th 1961 in Naguru near Kampala in Uganda where he studied at St. Jude Primary School where he played soccer. But he, early in life, became interested in boxing when he hang out at the Naguru Community Center near Kampala. He became a school boxing champion for several years, and then a national junior champion at age 11.


In 1977, Munduga represented Uganda at the annual Kenya vs. Uganda Urafiki Tournament. He won in the fight. He was summoned by national coach Grace Sseruwagi to get into residential training with the novices. Munduga excelled by beating his opponents then he was selected as the youngest on the team of Ugandan boxers to Thailand to fight in the international King's Cup. Munduga impressively won a bronze medal.


In January 1978, at a Uganda vs. Poland match in Kampala, Munduga defeated Roman Gotfryd after the bout was stopped.


At the All-Africa Games of 1978, held in Algiers, Munduga lost in the second round to Kenyan Steve Muchoki who is renowned to have in the past beaten James Odwori, and having become am amateur world Champion. He tehrefore failed to move into the medal bracket.


Munduga represented Uganda at the Feliks Stamm Memorial Invitational that was held in Warsaw from November 9-11 in 1978. In the quarter-finals, the Ugandan defeated Jose Luis Rios of Cuba by 4:1. In the semi-finals Munduga beat Yuriy Prokhorov of the Soviet Union by 3:2. In the finals Munduga triumphed by beating Leszek Kosedowski (Poland) by 4:1. Here again, he won the gold. Out of the five Ugandan boxers at this venue, only Munduga was victorious.


At the Poland vs. Uganda Dual of February 1979, held in Warsaw, Munduga triumphed over the Pole Kazimierz Adach. Here boxers like Mugabi, Odwori, Butambeki, and Siryakibe were defeated.


Still in February 1979, Munduga was triumphant in the town Schwerin in German Democratic Republic where a dual match was held against Uganda. Munduga here defeated Lutz Kaesebier. Of the other Ugandan boxers, only Adroni Butambeki was triumphant.


Munduga was a 19 year-old when at the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow he was pitted against 25 year-old Nelson Jose Rodriguez of Venezuela in the first preliminary round of the light-welterweight contest. At just 5'5", Rodriguez was about half a foot shorter than Munduga. The Ugandan triumphed on this July 21st 1980 by winning on points.


Munduga's next Olympic battle would happen on July 26th, and here in the second preliminary he would box against Farouk Chanchoun Jawad of Iraq. Though much shorter, 25 year-old Chanchoun who was more experienced, would knock out Munduga in the second minute of the first round. The Ugandan claims that he started well, but then was unfairly punched in the neck and fell unconscious. Chanchoun is famously known to have been the Asia champion thrice. Munduga would take the position of 9th overall in the light-welterweight division.


But though Mugabi would win Uganda's sole medal at the Olympics in Moscow, Munduga clearly stands out as the Uganda amateur pugilist that triumphed most for Uganda during the late 1970's. He comes to mind as a very hardworking, skillful, dedicated and disciplined during a time when Uganda's significance in boxing was quickly slipping down. After the Olympics in Moscow, Mugabi left for London to train as professional under the management Mickey Duff. There, Mugabi would recommend Munduga to boxing officiants, and during a training session in Uganda in preparation for the traditional annual Urafiki dual between Uganda and Kenya, Munduga escaped camp that was under the tutelage of national coach Grace Peter Sseruwagi and took off for Europe. The rest is history. Sseruwagi was undoubtedly not pleased.


The World Boxing Council (WBC) rankings of July 24th 1987 ranked two Ugandan "Johns," who had also represented Uganda at the Olympics, as among the top ten contenders for the world Super welterweight crown. Lupe Aquino of Mexico was the champion, John "the Beast" Mugabi was the top contender, while John Munduga was ranked as the sixth top contender. Apart from theoretically being rivals for the crown, the two were probably sparring partners given that they were both managed by Mickey Duff in Tampa in Florida. Mugabi, as a welterweight had won Uganda's only medal haul at the Moscow Olympics--a silver in the welterweight division. On the world professional scene, Munduga would get to be nicknamed, "the Matador." Munduga would talk of his boyhood friend Mugabi as one who "had a big punch early...at 9, 10 years, he used to knock boys out...was the only one that age who could" (Berger 1986).


Munduga started boxing as a professional in Germany, in November 1981, where he fought the first fourteen of his professional fights. Here he fought a cross-section of boxers from near and far, and he established an 85% record in these fights from 1981 to early 1984.


Thereafter he started competing in the United States whereby his first battle here was with Tommy Rogers in Tampa. He knocked out Rogers, then continued with his typical trend of knocking out most of his opponents up to when he battled Leland Hart whom he beat by points in Atlantic City in May 1986. At this stage, Munduga had a clean and imposing record of 24 wins, 0 losses, with 18 knockouts.


The next fight would be a scheduled 10-rounder with renowned American Mark Breland, a very 6'2.5" welterweight who had won Olympic gold at the Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1984. He was two inches taller than Munduga. A very popular figure, 23 year-old Breland dabbled as an actor, and he had a very impressive streak as USA amateur champion. On June 21st 1986, Breland was pitted against the Ugandan who was two inches shorter. This happened at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City in New Jersey. Munduga was then ranked as ninth on the list of contenders for the welterweight crown, by the World Boxing Association (WBA), and sixth on the list of junior middle-weight contenders, by the WBC.


Munduga believed that it would be advantageous for him to land punches on Breland because the two were about equal in height. Munduga added that Breland had never fought an opponent as skillful as himself and he added that this was a big fight for which he had trained hard for. Breland, stating that he had fought many tall fighters during his amateur days, most of whom he had stopped, opined that it was tougher to fight short boxers. He had to bend lower to fight them, and bend even lower when they duck. Breland also regarded Munduga as the typical European fighter who would not be much of a problem, one who stands erect and comes right at you. According to Breland, Munduga had a good jab and looping right, but he was not much of a good puncher. Breland fought his first professional fight, only two months after he had won the gold medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles. He was touted to be "the next Sugar Ray Leonard," an image that he would eventually not measure up to.


The first round revealed that both were right-handed, conventional style boxers. The taller and longer-armed Breland used these too his advantage of keeping Munduga at bay with these advantages though Munduga keeps attacking. In the first round the two were mainly feeling each other out for the pattern, the round was roughly even, but Breland uses the arm advantage to win.


In the second round, Munduga is rocked with a hard punch in the first few seconds, and he stumbles. Breland is very aware of it and he gradually moves in to attempt a knockout punch. Munduga has slowed down and he is indeed slightly hurt. But Munduga keeps attacking while the opponent's typical reach keeps him away from scoring much. Breland's height, slenderness, stance, and rocking blows remind one of a younger Thomas "Hitman" Hearns.


In round three, Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali, Don King, and Jesse Jackson are seen in the high capacity 15000-audience that has come to see an Olympic celebrity box. At this time Breland was undefeated in 12 fights, but his knockout ratio was far less spectacular than that of Munduga. In this third round, Munduga is perplexed as to what tactics to use, but he courageously keeps going after Breland though he keeps running into the long-range punches of Breland.


In the fourth round Munduga becomes much more aggressive, but he is getting tired. However, Breland is apparently more fresh and gradual, like he is waiting for the chance to deliver the onslaught. Still, in this fourth round, Munduga delivers his best punches of the round, and they seem to slightly rock Breland off balance.


In the fifth round, Munduga displays more courage and confidence. He even rocks Breland when he is against the ropes, and he goes on to speed up on the attacking.


In the sixth round, the slugger Munduga is again the aggressive one and he keeps attacking Breland as he hopes to get through teh opponent's longer arms. Breland displays patience but awareness of his opponents rising confidence. He seems to wait for Munduga to become reckless and careless and leave his head open to blows. Indeed the moment comes in the sixth round. As Munduga further delivers powerful blows, Breland takes the upper hand and delivers solid killer uppercut and right-left-right bows to Munduga's head that knock him down senseless on his back. The medical team quickly moves into the ring to attend to Munduga whose left eye is quickly closing up. The fight is decisively over; the referee Paul Venti did not bother to count him out. Munduga was hereby defeated for the first time in his boxing career. The boxing world mostly remembers Munduga because of this fight in which he displayed courage and skill against a famed and seasoned boxer.


Confident and victorious Breland remarked after the fight (AP 1986: 32).


"His plan was to come forward, hit and get hit. I knew he was a good puncher, but I punch pretty good too. His game plan was taken away and you can't adjust in the ring unless you are real smart."


Five weeks before the fight with Munduga, just after he had knocked out Ricky Avendano in the first minute of the first round, Breland was asked about how he rated himself, and he replied (AP 1986: 19).


"I really don't know. What I do know is that I don't want to be rushed into a title fight. Maybe a year or a year and a half from now. I want everything to be perfect."


Between 1987 and 1990, Mark Breland became WBA welterweight champion, then he lost the title to Marlon Starling, then regained it, then lost it to Aaron Davis. Breland retired from the ring with an impressive 39 victories, 3 losses, and 1 draw.


Munduga's head had been clobbered badly by Breland, he collapsed heavily to the floor. This fight, which is the most attached to Munduga, had virtually desrepaired and destroyed him. It took Munduga nearly six months to contest again. he admits that after this fight he was damaged, no longer himself, and he somewhat lost interest in boxing. In comparison, Uganda's Mustapha Wasajja was never the same again after he ws knocked out by Michael Spinks; John "the Beast Mugabi" was never the same again when he was knocked out by Marvelous Marvin Hagler.


Next, in Las Vegas, he won in a mediocre fight with Alvaro Granillo in December 1986. His very last major fight was with undefeated Darrin "Schoolboy" Van Horn who was a student at the University of Kentucky, and a future International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion. In Frankfort in Kentucky, more than a year since Munduga had performed in the ring, Van Horn knocked out Munduga in the seventh of a scheduled 10-rounder in February 1988.


Munduga fought his last three professional fights in Germany and Belgium, and he lost all of them by knockout to unheralded fighters. His last recorded fight is of November 1989. He had lost his luster. Munduga is recorded as having won in 25 fights in which 18 were by knockout. However in all the five fights that he lost, he was knocked out in each of them. Many had expected so much more from this formerly high-ranked boxer. Peter Grace Sseruwagi, Uganda’s most renowned boxing coach, describes John Munduga as "the most talented boxer that I have ever coached."


Between 1987 and 1990, Mark Breland became WBA welterweight champion, then he lost the title to Marlon Starling, then regained it, then lost it to Aaron Davis. Breland retired from the ring with an impressive 39 victories, 3 losses, and 1 draw.


Works Cited


AP. "Breland Wins 12th Welterweight Bout." The Index Journal. May 16 1986.




AP. "Breland Floors Munduga in Sixth." The Index Journal. June 22 1986.


Berger, Phil. "Mugabi: At Boxing's Front Door." New York Times. March 2 1986.


Jonathan Musere

Repost 0
October 26 2015 2 26 /10 /October /2015 11:31

Pugilist John Munduga, a Lugbara of northwestern Uganda ancestry was one of the nation's top boxers during his amateur career of the late 1970's and early 1980's. He was conspicuous for his lean build and tallness. Though he was in the lower weight classes, he was slightly over 6 feet tall. He has been regarded as one of the most skillful of Ugandan boxers. He would dabble as captain of the Uganda boxing team as he represented Uganda in several regional tournaments. Munduga competed at the summer Olympics that were held in Moscow in 1980, and he was there the national captain. As a professional, he fought in Europe and the United States where he brawled with several famous and top boxers. Munduga had a very high knockout ratio, and he remained undefeated for a relatively long time. He now resides in his native Uganda (in Naguru where he was born) where he is a high school coach and trainer--notably at Kololo High School near Kampala. During 2000, he was the national coach of the Rwanda boxing team.

Munduga was born on January 15th 1961 in Naguru near Kampala in Uganda where he studied at St. Jude Primary School where he played soccer. But he, early in life, became interested in boxing when he hang out at the Naguru Community Center near Kampala. He became a school boxing champion for several years, and then a national junior champion at age 11.


In 1977, Munduga represented Uganda at the annual Kenya vs. Uganda Urafiki Tournament. He won in the fight. He was summoned by national coach Grace Sseruwagi to get into residential training with the novices. Munduga excelled by beating his opponents then he was selected as the youngest on the team of Ugandan boxers to Thailand to fight in the international King's Cup. Munduga impressively won a bronze medal.


In January 1978, at a Uganda vs. Poland match in Kampala, Munduga defeated Roman Gotfryd after the bout was stopped.


At the All-Africa Games of 1978, held in Algiers, Munduga lost in the second round to Kenyan Steve Muchoki who is renowned to have in the past beaten James Odwori, and having become am amateur world Champion. He tehrefore failed to move into the medal bracket.


Munduga represented Uganda at the Feliks Stamm Memorial Invitational that was held in Warsaw from November 9-11 in 1978. In the quarter-finals, the Ugandan defeated Jose Luis Rios of Cuba by 4:1. In the semi-finals Munduga beat Yuriy Prokhorov of the Soviet Union by 3:2. In the finals Munduga triumphed by beating Leszek Kosedowski (Poland) by 4:1. Here again, he won the gold. Out of the five Ugandan boxers at this venue, only Munduga was victorious.


At the Poland vs. Uganda Dual of February 1979, held in Warsaw, Munduga triumphed over the Pole Kazimierz Adach. Here boxers like Mugabi, Odwori, Butambeki, and Siryakibe were defeated.


Still in February 1979, Munduga was triumphant in the town Schwerin in German Democratic Republic where a dual match was held against Uganda. Munduga here defeated Lutz Kaesebier. Of the other Ugandan boxers, only Adroni Butambeki was triumphant.


Munduga was a 19 year-old when at the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow he was pitted against 25 year-old Nelson Jose Rodriguez of Venezuela in the first preliminary round of the light-welterweight contest. At just 5'5", Rodriguez was about half a foot shorter than Munduga. The Ugandan triumphed on this July 21st 1980 by winning on points.


Munduga's next Olympic battle would happen on July 26th, and here in the second preliminary he would box against Farouk Chanchoun Jawad of Iraq. Though much shorter, 25 year-old Chanchoun who was more experienced, would knock out Munduga in the second minute of the first round. The Ugandan claims that he started well, but then was unfairly punched in the neck and fell unconscious. Chanchoun is famously known to have been the Asia champion thrice. Munduga would take the position of 9th overall in the light-welterweight division.


But though Mugabi would win Uganda's sole medal at the Olympics in Moscow, Munduga clearly stands out as the Uganda amateur pugilist that triumphed most for Uganda during the late 1970's. He comes to mind as a very hardworking, skillful, dedicated and disciplined during a time when Uganda's significance in boxing was quickly slipping down.


The World Boxing Council (WBC) rankings of July 24th 1987 ranked two Ugandan "Johns," who had also represented Uganda at the Olympics, as among the top ten contenders for the world Super welterweight crown. Lupe Aquino of Mexico was the champion, John "the Beast" Mugabi was the top contender, while John Munduga was ranked as the sixth top contender. Apart from theoretically being rivals for the crown, the two were probably sparring partners given that they were both managed by Mickey Duff in Tampa in Florida. Mugabi, as a welterweight had won Uganda's only medal haul at the Moscow Olympics--a silver in the welterweight division. On the world professional scene, Munduga would get to be nicknamed, "the Matador." Munduga would talk of his boyhood friend Mugabi as one who "had a big punch early...at 9, 10 years, he used to knock boys out...was the only one that age who could" (Berger 1986).


Munduga started boxing as a professional in Germany, in November 1981, where he fought the first fourteen of his professional fights. Here he fought a cross-section of boxers from near and far, and he established an 85% record in these fights from 1981 to early 1984.


Thereafter he started competing in the United States whereby his first battle here was with Tommy Rogers in Tampa. He knocked out Rogers, then continued with his typical trend of knocking out most of his opponents up to when he battled Leland Hart whom he beat by points in Atlantic City in May 1986. At this stage, Munduga had a clean and imposing record of 24 wins, 0 losses, with 18 knockouts.


The next fight would be a scheduled 10-rounder with renowned American Mark Breland, a very 6'2.5" welterweight who had won Olympic gold at the Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1984. He was two inches taller than Munduga. A very popular figure, 23 year-old Breland dabbled as an actor, and he had a very impressive streak as USA amateur champion. On June 21st 1986, Breland was pitted against the Ugandan who was two inches shorter. This happened at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City in New Jersey. Munduga was then ranked as ninth on the list of contenders for the welterweight crown, by the World Boxing Association (WBA), and sixth on the list of junior middle-weight contenders, by the WBC.


Munduga believed that it would be advantageous for him to land punches on Breland because the two were about equal in height. Munduga added that Breland had never fought an opponent as skillful as himself and he added that this was a big fight for which he had trained hard for. Breland, stating that he had fought many tall fighters during his amateur days, most of whom he had stopped, opined that it was tougher to fight short boxers. He had to bend lower to fight them, and bend even lower when they duck. Breland also regarded Munduga as the typical European fighter who would not be much of a problem, one who stands erect and comes right at you. According to Breland, Munduga had a good jab and looping right, but he was not much of a good puncher. Breland fought his first professional fight, only two months after he had won the gold medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles. He was touted to be "the next Sugar Ray Leonard," an image that he would eventually not measure up to.


The first round revealed that both were right-handed, conventional style boxers. The taller and longer-armed Breland used these too his advantage of keeping Munduga at bay with these advantages though Munduga keeps attacking. In the first round the two were mainly feeling each other out for the pattern, the round was roughly even, but Breland uses the arm advantage to win.


In the second round, Munduga is rocked with a hard punch in the first few seconds, and he stumbles. Breland is very aware of it and he gradually moves in to attempt a knockout punch. Munduga has slowed down and he is indeed slightly hurt. But Munduga keeps attacking while the opponent's typical reach keeps him away from scoring much. Breland's height, slenderness, stance, and rocking blows remind one of a younger Thomas "Hitman" Hearns.


In round three, Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali, Don King, and Jesse Jackson are seen in the high capacity 15000-audience that has come to see an Olympic celebrity box. At this time Breland was undefeated in 12 fights, but his knockout ratio was far less spectacular than that of Munduga. In this third round, Munduga is perplexed as to what tactics to use, but he courageously keeps going after Breland though he keeps running into the long-range punches of Breland.


In the fourth round Munduga becomes much more aggressive, but he is getting tired. However, Breland is apparently more fresh and gradual, like he is waiting for the chance to deliver the onslaught. Still, in this fourth round, Munduga delivers his best punches of the round, and they seem to slightly rock Breland off balance.


In the fifth round, Munduga displays more courage and confidence. He even rocks Breland when he is against the ropes, and he goes on to speed up on the attacking.


In the sixth round, the slugger Munduga is again the aggressive one and he keeps attacking Breland as he hopes to get through teh opponent's longer arms. Breland displays patience but awareness of his opponents rising confidence. He seems to wait for Munduga to become reckless and careless and leave his head open to blows. Indeed the moment comes in the sixth round. As Munduga further delivers powerful blows, Breland takes the upper hand and delivers solid killer uppercut and right-left-right bows to Munduga's head that knock him down senseless on his back. The medical team quickly moves into the ring to attend to Munduga whose left eye is quickly closing up. The fight is decisively over; the referee Paul Venti did not bother to count him out. Munduga was hereby defeated for the first time in his boxing career. The boxing world mostly remembers Munduga because of this fight in which he displayed courage and skill against a famed and seasoned boxer.


Confident and victorious Breland remarked after the fight (AP 1986: 32).


"His plan was to come forward, hit and get hit. I knew he was a good puncher, but I punch pretty good too. His game plan was taken away and you can't adjust in the ring unless you are real smart."


Five weeks before the fight with Munduga, just after he had knocked out Ricky Avendano in the first minute of the first round, Breland was asked about how he rated himself, and he replied (AP 1986: 19).


"I really don't know. What I do know is that I don't want to be rushed into a title fight. Maybe a year or a year and a half from now. I want everything to be perfect."


Between 1987 and 1990, Mark Breland became WBA welterweight champion, then he lost the title to Marlon Starling, then regained it, then lost it to Aaron Davis. Breland retired from the ring with an impressive 39 victories, 3 losses, and 1 draw.


Munduga's head had been clobbered badly by Breland, he collapsed heavily to the floor. This fight, which is the most attached to Munduga, had virtually desrepaired and destroyed him. It took Munduga nearly six months to contest again. he admits that after this fight he was damaged, no longer himself, and he somewhat lost interest in boxing. In comparison, Uganda's Mustapha Wasajja was never the same again after he ws knocked out by Michael Spinks; John "the Beast Mugabi" was never the same again when he was knocked out by Marvelous Marvin Hagler.


Next, in Las Vegas, he won in a mediocre fight with Alvaro Granillo in December 1986. His very last major fight was with undefeated Darrin "Schoolboy" Van Horn who was a student at the University of Kentucky, and a future International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion. In Frankfort in Kentucky, more than a year since Munduga had performed in the ring, Van Horn knocked out Munduga in the seventh of a scheduled 10-rounder in February 1988.


Munduga fought his last three professional fights in Germany and Belgium, and he lost all of them by knockout to unheralded fighters. His last recorded fight is of November 1989. He had lost his luster. Munduga is recorded as having won in 25 fights in which 18 were by knockout. However in all the five fights that he lost, he was knocked out in each of them. Many had expected so much more from this formerly high-ranked boxer. Peter Grace Sseruwagi, Uganda’s most renowned boxing coach, describes John Munduga as "the most talented boxer that I have ever coached."


Between 1987 and 1990, Mark Breland became WBA welterweight champion, then he lost the title to Marlon Starling, then regained it, then lost it to Aaron Davis. Breland retired from the ring with an impressive 39 victories, 3 losses, and 1 draw.


Works Cited


AP. "Breland Wins 12th Welterweight Bout." The Index Journal. May 16 1986.




AP. "Breland Floors Munduga in Sixth." The Index Journal. June 22 1986.


Berger, Phil. "Mugabi: At Boxing's Front Door." New York Times. March 2 1986.

Repost 0
May 6 2015 4 06 /05 /May /2015 00:58

Erasmus Samuel A.O. Amukun was born on November 27th 1940 in Ngora in Kumi in Eastern Uganda. He is best known for his exploits as a collegiate and international sprinter and as a professional geologist. He represented Uganda at the British Empire Commonwealth Games, at the Olympic Games, and at the East and Central African Games. Amukun is also credited for having beaten Kenyan sprint legend and future Commonwealth Games (1962, Perth) double-sprint gold-medallist Seraphino Antao in a race.

In 1958, at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in Wales (July 17-26, 1958), teenager Amukun did not advance beyond the fifth of twelve preliminary heats in the 100 yards sprint. In the heat 5 he finished in 9.9 seconds, in fourth place. But his team-mate Benjamin Kiyini Nduga, who had finished ahead of Antao, qualified for and moved on to the semi-finals in which he would be eliminated. In the 220 yards, Amukun was second in the eighth (22.14) of nine heats of the preliminary round. Later, in the fourth of six heats of the quarter-final round for which he had qualified, he was eliminated after finishing third in 22.1. But in the 4x100 yards, the Uganda relay team which Amukun was part of, finished sixth in the finals (42.1). Also on the Uganda relay team were Ben Nduga, Ignatius Okello, and S. Bwowe. They had moved on to the finals after finishing in third place (42,47) in the first round which was a semi-final.

Amukun, aged 19, was the captain of the Uganda team at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. In the young Uganda team, Amukun was the youngest, and 21 year-old Aggrey Awori was the oldest.

On August 31st 1960, Erasmus Amukun competed in the fourth of nine heats in the first round series of the 100m in which the fastest three in each heat would move on to the next round--the quarter-finals. He finished third in 10.80, qualifying for the next round. Notably, in this first round, fellow Ugandan 21 year-old Aggrey Awori (Awoori) who competed in the third heat was eliminated after finishing fifth (11.09). Kenyan Seraphino Antao (10.64) comfortably finished first in the first heat of this preliminary round and thus moved on to the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-finals held later in the day, Amukun was placed to run in the third of the four heats. He would finish fourth (10.75), and become eliminated since he was not among the top three finishers in the heat. But this would be the fastest he would ever officially run in the 100m. Antao finished third in the fourth heat (10.61) and moved on to the semi-finals. On September 1st Antao finished sixth (10.72) in the second of two semi-final heats, and become ineligible for the finals.

The 200m competition was started on September 2nd, and Amukun was placed in the fifth heat of the dozen heats of the first round in which the top two finishers of each heat would move on to the quarter-final round. Amukun finished second (21.38) and moved on to the quarter-finals. This would officially be his life-time best in the 200m. Meanwhile, Antao won in the eleventh heat (21.44), easily making it to the next round.

In the 200m quarter-finals held later that day, Amukun was placed in the first of four heats. He finished fourth (21.47) and was eliminated from advancing to the semi-finals since he was not among the top three finishers in the heat. Also coming in fourth, but in the second heat of the quarter finals was Seraphino Antao (21.43) who was also eliminated.

Uganda also competed in the 4x100m relay scheduled for September 7th 1960. There were four heats in the first round, and Uganda finished in fifth in 41.90, but had already been disqualified. In some of the other heats, Poland and France were also disqualified. The Uganda relay team had also included Aggrey Awori, Jean Baptiste Okello, and Gadi Ado.

In 1961 at the East and Central African Championships at the venue Nakuru in Kenya, Erasmus Amukun had won in the 440 yards in 48.0 seconds. Samuel Amukun was also part of the Uganda 4x100 yards relay team that won in 43.1 in Nakuru.

Near the end of 1961, Amukun successfully completed the 2-year Cambridge Advanced Secondary School Certificate, majoring in the sciences, at King's College Budo (Buddo) near Kampala where he resided in Mutesa House.

Sam Amukun competed in the annual IC4A (or ICAAAA, (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America) which is a men's competition held at different colleges every year. Amukun was then an undergraduate student at Colgate University in Hamilton in New York. At the IC4A in Villanova in Pennsylvania in 1964 at the end of May, Amukun won in the 100 yards in 9.7. It was a photo-finish with Villanova University's Earl Horner, and it was decided that Amukun with his chest forward on the tape had won (Green 1964: 5).

At the summer Olympics held in Tokyo in 1964, 23 year-old Amukun would represent Uganda in the 200m, and in the 4x100m relay. Placed in the second heat of eight heats of the preliminary rounds, Amukun finished fifth (21.55) on October 16th and was eliminated since he was not among the top four finishers in the heat. Kenyan Antao advanced to the quarter-final heats after finishing second in the third heat (21.52). Antao would, in the quarter-finals, later be eliminated.

On October 20th, the 4x100m Uganda relay team consisting of Awori, Amukun, James Odongo, and Amos Omolo finished sixth (41.4) in the third of the three first-round heats; so the team did not advance to the semi-finals.

Revenge was sweet at the annual IC4A championships held in 1965 in Brunswick, New Jersey at the end of May. Here Horner of Villanova who had lost to Amukun of Colgate in the 100m in 1964, won in both short sprints, with Amukun finishing third in the 100 yards sprint. But earlier in the same year, at the beginning of May, the Ugandan Olympian had triumphed in both short sprints at the track meet whereby the Raiders of Colgate were pitted against Syracuse University (Orange) at the Archbold Stadium in Syracuse. Also, in mid-April at the Cornel University vs. Colgate meet, Amukun the meet record-holder was beaten into second place in both short sprints by Cornel's Charles Blaugrund (9.9 in the 100 yards) second effort in the 100-yd. dash was enough to beat Colgate's Sam Amukun, the meet record holder a favorite in the event. Amukun had covered the distance in 9.6 seconds the week before. In the 220 yard sprint, again Blaugrund (22.5) was followed by the Ugandan at the finishing line.

Just before Amukun died in 1998, aged 57, he was the exploration manager for Northwest Explorations, in Canada. Amukum obtained the bachelor of science degree in chemistry at Colgate in 1966 while on track-and-field scholarship. He would acquire the master's degree in geology at the University of Manitoba in 1969. The title of his master's thesis is: "Petrography of the Gold-Bearing Vein Rocks from Bissett Area, Southeastern Manitoba."

Amukun returned to Uganda to work at the Kilembe mine of Falconbridge but fled to Canada with his wife in 1972 given the insecurity and unease about the dictatorial military regime of Idi Amin.

After his death it was chronicled that after leaving Uganda, for 25 years, Amukun worked as a field geologist for the Ontario Geological Survey, Noranda and Urangesellschaft, and later started his consulting business. In 1996, he joined Northwest Explorations and became exploration manager for the company's Guyanese projects. He was a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, and the Geological Association of Canada.

Samuel Erasmus Amukun compiled and authored extensively and his books include: "Precambrian Geology, Little Marshall Lake Area" (1989), "Geology of the Klob Lake Area, District of Thunder Bay" (1984), "Geology of the Willet Lake Area, District of Thunder Bay" (1979), "Geology of the Tashota Area, District of Thunder Bay" (1977), "Geology of the Gledhill Lake Area, District of Thunder Bay" (1980), "Geology of the Conglomerate Lake Area, District of Thunder Bay" (1980), and "Willet Lake, Thunder Bay District" (1979).

Amukun had been married to Daphne for 29 years, and he was also survived by daughter Nasheba and sons Settu and Mwenu.

Works Cited


Green, Bob (AP). "Villanova is IC4A Titlist Again; G-Burg Entry Fourth." Gettysburg Times, 1 June 1964: 5.

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March 12 2015 5 12 /03 /March /2015 01:47

"Since my return from Africa, I have persistently maintained that so long as there are no facilities of transport between Lake Victoria and the sea, nothing in the way of progress can be hoped for from East Africa. Just as Stanley Pool on the Congo is our objective in West Africa, we must take the Victoria Nyanza as our objective in East Africa. The first commands the commerce of 16,000 miles of river banks; the second is the centre of a region which is inhabited by millions of the finest people in Africa. The lake has 1500 miles of coast line of its own. At one point it is but 150 miles from Lake Tanganyika; from Beatrice Gulf it is only sixty miles; from Lake Albert it is barely a hundred, and the navigable Nile is also within easy reach; so that by this lake we have, roughly speaking, access to about 3000 miles of lake shores and 5000 miles of river banks. To join these with the sea would be a scheme equal in importance and prospective advantages to that of the Congo, because, though we should not at once control so vast a region as the Congo, the natives of these parts are so immeasurably superior to those of Western Africa, that we should only have to appear with our goods in order to establish a vast trade. I take but little interest in the region through which the railway must run, because of itself it is scarcely worth a thought. I regard the region as only a means to an end. By itself it is not worth the luxury of a railway. The point to be reached is the fresh-water sea beyond. Let that be made accessible and the intervening region becomes naturally of great value. We may be sure that those who need fat pastures, farm-lands, and cheap labour will not neglect the opportunities provided for them by the railway.

It is the "Pearl of Africa" that is our object. I applied that somewhat  grandiloquent term to Uganda because of its frequent use by the Portuguese, who spoke of Cabinda at the Berlin Conference as the pearl of the Crown of Portugal. Many have sneered at it since, and dense-headed travellers have tried to account for the term by adducing the fertility of the soil and the variety of its products; but the truth is that the term aptly illustrates the superior value of Uganda because of its populousness, the intelligence of its people, its strategic position for commerce, and for spreading Christianity--all of which make it pre-eminently a desirable colony for a trading and civilizing nation like ours.

No one, however, has called Uganda a paradise. It is simply a superior region of East Central Africa possessing unusual advantages by its position between the Three Lakes and the Nile, and inhabited by a remarkably intelligent people, who, because of their undoubted adaptability, are more capable of being trained, educated, and civilized than any other between Assfian and Cape Colony. I have twice crossed the continent; I have tested to the full the capacities of the best Congo tribes, the Zanzibaris and Wanyamwezi; I have had hundreds from the West African coast tribes under me; I have been into Upper Egypt, Ashanti, and Abyssinia; I have had two hundred Zulus in training; but I have met none who impressed me so much with their mental, spiritual, and moral capacity as the Waganda. Remembering these qualities, look over the map of Africa and tell me where there are such possibilities as with such a people, occupying such a country as they do. Had the Waganda, held together as they have been by their traditions, nature, and customs, inhabited the country of the Basutos, or the Zulus, or the Matabeli, they would long ago have made their mark as a progressive race; but being where they are, stretched along the northern shores of an inland sea, and dominating the whole of the intra-lake region, it is a marvel to me that English people are so slow to perceive the uses to which Uganda and its nation may be applied. Administered by a British Commissioner, assisted and directed by British officers, educated by British missionaries, and trained in industrial crafts by British teachers, Uganda and its people are as capable of astonishing Central Africa as the Japanese have astonished the Far East.

In 1862 Speke and Grant found the entire Waganda nation clothed in home-made robes of brown bark cloth. Thirteen years later the king and his court, the chiefs and officers of the army, were dressed in the finest white cottons, cloaks of broad cloth and fez caps, and were inclined to the Mohammedan religion. In another thirteen years some 5000 had become Christians, and many of them were able to read and preach the Gospel. Cloth dresses had become almost universal, firearms had become common. In the last six years the progress has been still more rapid. The Christians have trebled in number; they possess a cathedral and nearly 200 churches; the art of reading and writing has been acquired by many hundreds, and a perfect mania for instruction has developed among the young."

Henry M. Stanley

 

Work Cited

 

 

 


Stanley, Henry Morton. "The Uganda Railway" [Excerpt]. Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art , vol. 79 (1895): 719-720.

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March 10 2015 3 10 /03 /March /2015 21:05

JOHN AKII-BUA, JUDITH AYAA, STEVE PREFONTAINE, PAT MATZDORF: 1971 US-USSR-WORLD TRACK MEET AT THE BERKELEY CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

The US-USSR-World All-Stars Track and Field Meet took place on Saturday, July 3rd 1971, in Berkeley at the Edwards Stadium of University of California.

Very recently, on May 30th 1971, John Akii-Bua had commendably reduced the 400 meters-hurdles African record to 49.7 seconds in Kampala, and thereby gained a reasonably significant level of attention. But there was some skepticism about the timing and the track conditions, given that the event was contested on a somewhat unknown and unrecognized African track. Nevertheless, in Berkeley, 21 year-old policeman Akii was considered a major contender for the gold medal. The other two favorites were Wes Williams who was regarded as USA's top contenders, and Russia's Vyacheslav Skomorokhov. Williams had at the recent national AAU championships finished second in the 440 yards-hurdles  (which is four yards longer than the metric lap) in an impressive 49.3; while  Skomorokhov who finished fifth in the foregone 1968 Olympics had a 49.1 personal best in the intermediate hurdles.

Eventually, Akii-Bua of Uganda, representing  the World, won (50.1), second was University of Washington's Jim Seymour (USA) in 50.5, Roger Johnson (World) was third (50.9), Vyacheslav Skomorokhov (USSR) was fourth (50.9), fifth was Wes Williams (51.0) of USA, followed by Yuriy Zorin (USSR) in 53.3.

Akii-Bua's remarks are mentioned (AP 1971: 19).

"I have been practicing hurdles with both...right...and left leg. I think those who hurdle with only one leg aren't versatile enough.... I don't have any set plan to run so many steps in between the hurdles. I just go over them when I get there."

In the men's 4x400m relay the USA team (Edesel Garrison, Frederick Newhouse, Tommie Turner, Darwin Bond) triumphed (3:02.9); the World's team (Alfred Daley, John Akii-Bua, Laighton Priestley, Garth Case) was second (3:08.4); while the USSR team (Boris Savchuk, Yuriy Zorin, Dimitriy Stuklaov, Semyon Kocher) was last.

Judith Ayaa of Uganda, representing the World, participated in the women's 4x400m relay. This time, the USSR team won (3:36.0). The Soviet runners were Lyudmila Findgenova, Lyudmila Aksenova, Natalya Chistyakova, and Nadyezhda Kolesnikova.  Second an in 3:38.1 was the USA team (Esther Stroy, Gwen Norman, Cheryl Toussaint, and Jarvis Scott). Finishing third in 3:44.1 was the World all-Stars team of Ayaa, Penny Werther, Allison Ross-Edwards, and Yvonne Sanders.

Major highlights at the international track meet included the setting of a new world record in the high jump (7 feet, 6.25 inches) by University of Wisconsin's Pat Matzdorf (USA); and a new national record in the 5000m (13:30.4) by USA's Steve Prefontaine (University of Oregon).

Overall in points, the USA won, USSR was second, and the World All-Stars team was third.


Works Cited

 

AP (July 14, 1971) "For America-Russian Track Duel: U.S. Runners Weren't Ready," in "Odessa American."

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