Wednesday,August 15,2018 17:29 PM

Buchanan deserves praise for rescuing national boxing team

By James Bakama

Added 3rd July 2017 03:13 PM

Problems seemed to persist until Buchanan’s arrival last month.

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Problems seemed to persist until Buchanan’s arrival last month.

As Uganda celebrated boxer Muzamil Kakande and the national netball team gold medals last week, there was one person the nation seemed to forget.

Businessman Sam Buchanan also deserved praising for rescuing the national boxing side.

He not only offered two air tickets, but also sorted out the team’s stay in Congo Brazzaville with a cash offer just when they were about to be thrown out of their hotel.

The last time we had an individual making such offers was in 2003. That time it was philanthropist Michael Ezra taking on government’s role in fully funding a national team.

He not only put boxers on a stipend but also funded the team’s camp and participation in Olympic qualifiers in Morocco and Botswana.

His intervention paid off with Uganda’s biggest boxing team ever for the Olympics since introduction of the quota system in 1992.

With Ezra’s exit the sport seemed abandoned. Boxers competed on empty stomachs and international competition almost ceased.

Leadership squabbles spanning almost a decade also did not help matters.

The problems seemed to persist until Buchanan’s arrival last month.

I gather it only took a phone call from someone close to him for him to visit the team’s camp in Lugogo. Shortly afterwards he swung into action with the air tickets offer and cash.

He followed it all up with a sh2m cash prize for gold medalist Kakande. Silver medalists Geoffrey Kakeeto and David Ayiti got sh1m each.

This was all crowned with a party at his palatial home in Muyenga. The team, officials and journalists feasted late into the night.

I have not talked to Buchanan but I hear he is ardent boxing fan who frequently attends world title fights in the prize fighting capital- Las Vegas.

The sport badly needs such sponsors. The beauty with boxing is that the return on investment is huge.

Boxing talent abounds in Uganda. As early as the 1968 Olympics Uganda was already winning Olympic medals.

Even in its raw form our talent is worth medals. Kakande, Ayiti and Kakeeto who have just won medals at the African championships underline this fact.

With minimal preparation the three fighters punched their way to the podium.

I have been assured by coach Patrick Lihanda that with a little more fine tuning the trio can win even more medals at the World Championships in Hamburg, in August.

So I can assure Buchanan that he won’t be disappointed by injecting money in boxing.

The boxing fraternity- Uganda Boxing Federation to be specific, should on its part also be appreciative.

Accountability will for starters be key. Besides delivery in the ring, all such philanthropists need is proof that those entrusted in implementing their offers have integrity.

I hope Kenneth Gimugu and his team will reciprocate by delivering on their end. This is a golden opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

What better ally can the sport ask for in these times of need?


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