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Rwabwogo is as great as Akii

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th January 2009 03:00 AM

James Bakama
I SAY SO

RETIRED boxer Leo Rwabwogo’s death hit me like a lottery punch. In boxing terms, a lottery punch is one that gets you by surprise.

James Bakama
I SAY SO

RETIRED boxer Leo Rwabwogo’s death hit me like a lottery punch. In boxing terms, a lottery punch is one that gets you by surprise.

If life was a boxing ring, I would have been knocked out by the news.
That’s how shocked I when I learnt that one of Uganda’s last surviving sports legends had suddenly collapsed and died while tending to his garden in Kabarole.

Rwabwogo, the only Ugandan to have won two Olympic medals (silver and bronze), seemed as fit as a fiddle the last time I had met him in 2008.

I remember quizzing him on why boxing in Uganda had plunged and what can be done to bring back the glory days of the seventies.

Being the practical man he was, he not only explained that all basics of the sweet science were being abused by the new generation of players and coaches, but also went on to demonstrate what he meant. He was a natural coach.

He showed me how to land perfect jabs, hooks and uppercuts besides the weaves and the Muhammad Ali shuffle –– basics that those masquerading as coaches today had failed to pass on to the young generation.

For a man who was 66 at the time, such a display was surprising. But well, that was Leo. Unlike most retired sportsmen, he led a clean life with no excesses, and was therefore ever in good shape.

Boxing was his first love. However his efforts to approach NCS, UOC and UABF authorities to assist him in his campaigns to help budding talent were always frustrated.

He could have died in obscurity if philanthropist Michael Ezra hadn’t appointed him on the Ezra Boxing Board. That board teamed up and went on to help one of Africa’s biggest teams qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Is it therefore not a surprise to me that his body did not lie in state in parliament like that of his team-mate John Akii-Bua?

Little wonder there was no ministry or UOC representatives at his burial.
Rwabwogo’s story reminds me of the Biblical story about prophets being undermined by their very own.

Rwabwogo is as great as Akii

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