L-R: Simon Barigo (UBF General Secretary), Moses Muhangi (President), Godfrey Nyakaana (Patron), Zebra Ssenyange could now afford a smile after being blessed by AIBA Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE
[/media-credit] L-R: Simon Barigo (UBF General Secretary), Moses Muhangi (President), Godfrey Nyakaana (Patron), Zebra Ssenyange (national coach) address the media at Lugogo on Tuesday, 30th January 2018 Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

If you are a staunch reader of the Bible or rubbed shoulders anywhere in Sunday school, you are surely familiar with the story of the Israelites who spent thousands of years in Egypt as slaves.

Their moment came and they were led out of Egypt under heavy resistance from the Pharaoh at the time. Being children of God as they were, they faithfully endured until they reached the Promised Land, Canaan.

Moses couldn’t live to enjoy the fruits of the success of the journey he had started, handing the mantle to Joshua who finished the job

Just like the children of Israel, Ugandan boxing has been in turmoil for the last decade or so and by the look of things, there is a one Moses Muhangi wanting to give the sport a facelift on one side and a Pharaoh in Kenneth Gimugu who is not ready to take any of that.

Last month, while Muhangi was being voted into power at Kati Kati Restaurant under the supervision of regional and continental administrators, Gimugu and team were just metres away at the Tennis Club also holding elections.

And that has been the state of Ugandan boxing for some time now, and like expected, National Council of Sports have been part of the audience enjoying the drama.

Unlike the past leaders of Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) or Uganda Boxing Federation (whichever you want to call it), Muhangi seems to be cut from a different cloth, not that of his predecessors.

[/media-credit] Uganda Boxing Federation front view of the offices found at Lugogo in Kampala Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

The youthful leader has genuine passion for the sport he has played, cheered, invested in and now wants to lead. And it seems to rub off everyone who associates with him since he has support of everyone that hobnobs with him.

On Wednesday, I managed to catch up with the man who also has something to do with deejaying, if the cover picture of his Facebook page is anything to by.

The 10am meeting was supposed to be at the newly refurbished UBF offices at the Indoor Stadium in Lugogo, and I got their 10 minutes early.

I didn’t find Muhangi in office but I was instantly welcomed with open arms by a young lady who cared to usher me in, offering a seat before asking who I wanted to see.

The passionate female boxer who works at the UBF offices as a receptionist was seated across on a newly vanished table kept on engaging me as I wait for Muhangi.

Now, that’s customer care you will not find in any sports federation office in the country. And I mean any because at least I have visited most of them.

I decided to use my eyes to understand the geography of this tiny office where I was offered a seat, while I waited for Muhangi who was by now three minutes late.

Apart from the reception desk, the office had a desktop and printer (although not yet connected) on one desk, another desk occupied the opposite space.

[/media-credit] Newly elected Uganda Boxing Federation President Moses Muhangi (with hand up) gestures during his address on Tuesday at Lugogo Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

And conference desk that would accommodate about eight people in one corner just opposite Muhangi’s desk and a chair in one corner.

As I occupied one of the five chairs in the waiting area, I noticed portraits of John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi, Ayub Kalule, Godfrey Nyakana and Sharif Bogere, all icons of the sport in their own right.

All this was setup in a space of five days after Muhangi was unopposedly elected as the president of UBF.

What Muhangi did was to give boxing an administrative home, something many sports bodies today in the country don’t have or don’t see as important.

Something his predecessors failed to do as boxing was one of the many briefcase federations in Uganda.

He has also been holding a series of meetings with different stakeholders, from referees to club administrators, and the boxers themselves, giving them assurance that the sport is destined to a better future.

During my interaction with Muhangi, I did notice that he is actually an aggressive man who is willing to do anything just to see the sport grow.

To achieve that, Muhangi will have to start with cleaning the corporate image of the sport that has been bastardised by many in one way or the other.

[/media-credit] Some of the Uganda Boxing Federation executive committee members pose for a group photograph outside their office at Lugogo Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

The glory days are also not far off. If Muhangi and his team can go back to the grass roots, teach the different young boxers the fundamentals and basics of the sport, there is no reason why we shouldn’t believe.

There is a reason why boxing is arguably Uganda’s most successful sport after winning eight gold medals, 10 silvers and about 15 bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games.

Out of the seven medals that Uganda has won at the Olympics, seven of those have been won by Eridadi Mukwanga, Leo Rwabwogo (twice) and Mugabi.

Mugabi together with Ayub Kalule, Jackson Asiku, Kassim Ouma, Cornelius Boza Edwards have also gone ahead and won World Championships.

While Muhangi aims at working tirelessly to clean the image of the sport at all fronts, the country eagerly waits for more medals at the big stage and world titles.

Senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering volleyball, football and badminton

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