By Wednesday evening, Uganda was guaranteed of at least three bronze medals in boxing at the ongoing all Africa games in Rabat, Morocco and a good thing to brag about given the history.
Isaac Masembe and David Ssemujju had won their quarterfinal final bouts to enter the medal bracket and join female boxer Hellen Baleke at the semifinal phase but this was perhaps just the start.
Whereas Baleke could not go past Morocco’s Mardi Khadija in the women’s middle weight semifinal, she already has a bronze medal for Uganda in the bag.
For the last 20 years, no Ugandan boxer had reached the final at All Africa games, a bad spell that stood before the aforementioned trio prior to entering the ring on Thursday.
Featherweight Isaac Masembe who has been brilliant throughout the tournament defied odds to overcome Algeria’s Oussama Mordjane and qualify for the final.
Not even a cut beneath his left eye stopped the ambitious fighter who vowed to go for the ultimate prize (gold) after eliminating Rocky Bukasa from DR Congo and Carlos Semedo from Cape Verde at the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively.
Masembe stopped his opponent in the first round winning by knockout to seal a berth into the final where he will face Morroco’s Mohamed Hamout.
Hamout won all the five rounds against his opponent, Everisto Mulenga, from Zambia in the other semifinal.
On the other hand, Ssemujju who outclassed Equatorial Guinea’s Raul Obama Monday night, overcame Ahmed Abdelmoneim in the men’s middleweight (75KGS) semifinal to book a date with Tarik Allali from Morroco.
Therefore, Masembe and Ssemujjju are the first Uganda boxers to reach the final since Abdul Tebazaalwa and Muhammad Kizito won gold in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1999.
Since then, Uganda has only managed to get four bronze medals in boxing, two coming in 2003 in Abuja, Nigeria through Jolly Katongole and Sadat Tebazalwa.
Uganda failed to win any medal at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algiers and could only pick one bronze medal in each of the last two editions (2011 in Maputo and 2015 in Brazzaville) through Ronald Sserugo and Kennedy Katende respectively.