It is now 17 years since Uganda registered a boxing win at the Olympic Games. Sam ‘Rocky’ Rukundo was the last Ugandan Pugilist to do so, winning two fights at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in the Lightweight category before falling to Russia’s Murat Petrovich Khrachev.
With Catherine Nanziri who made history as the first female boxer to represent Uganda at the Games falling to Japan’s Tsukumi Namiki in the flyweight, round of 32 on Sunday, the baton is now passed on to David Kavuma Ssemujju and Bombers captain Shadir Musa Bwogi to try and attain the elusive win.
Ssemujju who takes on Algeria’s Younes Nemouchi in the round of 32 (middleweight) today will also become the 40th boxer to represent Uganda at the Olympics. The first was George Oywello who featured at the 1960 Games in Rome, Italy.
Rukundo in 2004
Rukundo earned a ticket to the 2004 Games after emerging runner-up in the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Gaborone, Botswana the previous year.
In Athens, his first opponent was Tahar Tamsamani who had a bronze medal in the featherweight (57 kg) from the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
However, this did not stop Rukundo from eliminating him in the first round, winning the bout 30-22.
At the round of 16 which up to date is the last win for Uganda in boxing at the Olympics, Rukundo overcame Puerto Rico’s Alexander de Jesus (RIP) by a single point (24-22).
Rukundo’s journey was stopped by Russia’s Murat Khrachev in the quarterfinals.
Since 2004, only Ronald Sserugo had featured for Uganda in boxing. He represented the country in the light flyweight and flyweight in 2008 and 2016 respectively but did not win any bout.
The task is now on Ssemujju and Bwogi to put a halt to the 17-year wait. The latter will be in action on Tuesday against Madiev Eskerkhan from Georgia.