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By Vision Reporter

Added 17th April 2007 03:00 AM

THE government has pardoned army deserter-turned-professional-boxer Kassim Ouma.

THE government has pardoned army deserter-turned-professional-boxer Kassim Ouma.

By Emmy Allio and Phillip Corry

THE government has pardoned army deserter-turned-professional-boxer Kassim Ouma.

Ouma received his pardon for deserting the army through the Uganda embassy in Washington D.C last week after he apologised. It paves the way for him to return home this month for the first time since 1997.

“The army lost interest in the case against Ouma. The government has pardoned him after he apologised for having deserted the army,” defence ministry and army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye revealed yesterday.

Ouma will meet army officials soon after he lands at Entebbe to sign the final documents related to his pardon, before meeting his family.

Kulayigye said that despite the pending meeting with army officials, Ouma is a free man.

“His achievements in the boxing field are worth-noting. As a country we are proud of him,” Kulayigye added.

The spokesman could not confirm whether Ouma jets in on Saturday, stating that, “that is now a private arrangement for his family”.

Ouma, 28, was excited: “I really want to thank the Ugandan army and the president for letting my pardon go through. What is in the past should be forgotten. I lost my childhood to the army, but now I have the chance to really do something representing the people of my country as a boxer in America.”

Ouma was a child soldier in the National Resistance Army. At 19 years, he entered the United States on an amateur boxing visa, and quickly found success.

The Ugandan pugilist in December went up in weight but lost after a spirited challenge to middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor.

“ I want to be the first Ugandan boxer to regain a world championship. Hopefully, I’ll be fighting for the title again real soon,” he said.

Ouma’s success in the ring and child-soldier background have brought him international attention, including a feature-length documentary on his life now being completed in Hollywood.

“America has been wonderful for me, allowing me to become champion and make a lot of money. It truly is the land of opportunity. That’s why I want my kids to grow up here,” he remarked.

In September, his fiancee Cassie Jamison and son Rahim Oundo visited the country to make contact with local officials as they sought a pardon. Ouma will have a short visit before returning to his base in Las Vegas to train for a fight in July.

Ouma boxing career
Born: December 1978
Record: 25(15KO)-3-1
- Turns professional
- Claims the USBA light middleweight title by beating Jason Papillion
- Shot in a driveway shoot out
- Tests positive for Marijuana after defence of his USBA title against Darrell Woods
- Claims the IBF Jr middleweight title with win over Verno Phillips to become the third Uganda boxer to become a world champion.
- Signs promotional contract with Golden Boy together with HBO boxing channel
- Loses his IBF crown defense to Russian Roman Karmazin
- Challenges WBC and WBO middleweight champion Jermain Taylor but loses.


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