By Robert Mwesigye
Friday night saw Ugandan history in the making in the kickboxing arena during the East and Central Africa challenge fight at Freedom City between Titus Tugume and defending champion Moses Golola.
Ahead of the anticipated fight, while Golola was away in neighbouring Kenya training, Tugume had taunted his opponent by procuring a coffin in which his opponent would be 'laid to rest' after his (Tugume's) own predicted 'victory'.
The match was deservingly hyped, fans betted and swore on their children and ancestors' lives who would be the victor come match day.
On D-day, a few minutes past midnight, the moment of truth was finally here.
A few seconds into Round One, Tugume lurched forward first, aiming kicks at Golola with his right leg. A midriff aimed kick that caught Golola on the stomach hardly bothered him, and he instantly reacted.
Freedom City was packed with revelers who turned out to witness history. PHOTO/Silvano Kibuuka
He moved in before the UPDF fighter could regain his composure. Golola intently swung a left hook that landed on the left side of Tugume's head; a quick successive hook to the right side of the head, arguably stronger than the first and seemingly fatal, caught Tugume off guard.
In no position to control his fall, Tugume seemed to spin round, stiffened and fell backwards on his face in free fall! A section of the stunned but animated crowd leaped to their feet and others , including journalists, scampered at the ring side to take that historical photo of a 'dead' Tugume lying on the canvas.
Tugume goes down in free fall after taking a knockout from Golola. PHOTO/Silvano Kibuuka
At this moment, many could have wondered whether the coffin Tugume had presented before the press pre-fight had actually came back to haunt instead. He lay there eerily motionless.
Equally alarmed was the umpire who sensed danger and his frantic attempts to wake the motionless Tugume were futile. Intuition bred of years of experience in the sport took cue.
The umpire attempts to wake a dazed Tugume in vain. PHOTO/Silvano Kibuuka
The umpire expressly waved off a charged Golola who stood poised in a menacing posture over his hapless opponent - signaling an end to the bout. Even as Tugume's stunned camp frantically breathed life into his gangly frame sprawled on the canvas - Golola's was already celebrating in utter disbelief.
Golola is announced winner after Tugume came round. PHOTO/Silvano Kibuuka
It was laughable that way after the official count and help from his minders when a concussed Tugume regained his consciousness - as if from deep slumber - he insisted he was in shape to continue with the fight.
Of course the umpire knew better - he would not risk his career nor the man's life for the sake of disbelieving fans.
By this time revelers were still struggling to access the venue at the entrance while others shouted out how they had been cheated. In under just a minute, he fight was done - done before it had actually started! Perhaps the abrupt end found a few just trying to settle onto their seats to feast their eyes on a potentially long night of a fight. But alas!
For the section of unbelieving noise makers who suspect the match was fixed - try betting if you would withstand what Tugume went through. It is unlikely though many would live to tell their grandchildren about it.
In a pre-match interview Golola rightly predicted: “If he lands in this left hook he will lie down; if he lands in the right hook he will feel it!”
On his part Tugume had said: “ If Golola survives the first round, he will not survive the second.”
All said, it was later to be seen who would take the night. And sure it was the "only man who can pocket while naked" that took it.
Golola boasted in a post-match interview that while Tugume was waiting for orders to attack, he on the other hand was the leader and commander and had to take him out real fast.
He said: "I told Tugume we hit iron bars! I hit him with an iron bar!"
He also lashed out at his critics: "I beat the mzungu people said I cheated; now I have beaten Tugume they are saying the same. Do you want me to just eat them (opponents)?"
There is perhaps need to appreciate that those energy-sapping drills Golola has been enduring under professional guidance are paying off.