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Legendary boxer Mugabi meets daughter after 28 years

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd March 2015 02:52 PM

“I am a very happy man now. Thank you New Vision.”

Legendary boxer Mugabi meets daughter after 28 years

“I am a very happy man now. Thank you New Vision.”

By Samson Opus

“I am a very happy man now. Thank you New Vision.”

Those were the words of legendary boxer John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi after he finally got re-united with his cherished daughter Maureen Mugabi on Saturday.

After 28 years of separation, it was such a rare get together scene at Africana Hotel.

Maureen introduces New Vision Sports Editor, Fred Kaweesi to her father

At first, father and daughter stared each other intensely in dead silence at a distance. However as the two came close, two similar brown faces beamed together in smile.

That was the moment when Maureen, 36, jumped into the arms of her father at the Hotel Africana lobby.

The meeting ended 28 solid years of separation between father and daughter.

Maureen hugs her dad for the first time in 28 years

As the two embraced and hugged each other, time seemed to have stopped as other hotel guests gazed in amusement. At another moment, Mugabi carried his daughter on his lap —trying to relive the years he should have done that to his daughter.

“I am very glad. I feel like I should not go back to Australia,” stated the legendary boxer before roaring out in laughter.

Mugabi carries his daughter on his laps

The get together for Australia-based Mugabi and his daughter came after New Vision ran a story with Mugabi’s appeal requesting anyone with knowledge to help him locate his daughter.

After the appeal ran on Saturday, a barrage of calls flooded the New Vision Sports desk phone lines with good Samaritans, who were deeply touched, offering clues and encouragement.

Some readers offered to help Mugabi locate his relatives in Masindi. But the real break-through came from Michael Walusimbi, who offered the cell phone number of Mugabi’s sister Margaret Asiimwe.

Mugabi points, confirming that Maureen is indeed his daughter

Asiimwe herself, however, had no idea of the whereabouts of Maureen. Instead it was her daughter Tiana Lamunu who had an idea of the location of where her cousin was.

It was at that moment when the New Vision team including Sports Editor Fred Kaweesi, and Photographer Mpalanyi Ssentongo set off for the frantic search.

The search finally paid off when Maureen was found deep in Kakajo zone in the Kampala suburb of Bweyogerere.

When Lamunu broke the good news, her cousin seemed to be more than perplexed as she stared in disbelief.

“Muzei, Muzei!...I don’t know what to do. Should I cry or shed tears of joy when I see him?” she wondered aloud.

“He was a good father. Daddy knew how to cook well. He could wake up early to prepare food for me,” she recounted her tender age experience in London.

Where it went wrong

Mugabi and his daughter last met in 1987 in London when she was eight years old. That was the year when the former world champion decided to take a three-year vacation in Kampala.

Mugabi talks to Maureen's counsin Tiana Lamunu as Maureen holds back her tears

Longing to see her father, Maureen nagged her step mother for a flight back Uganda. Unfortunately, Mugabi and daughter crisscrossed each other in air —leading to the 28-year separation.

It was the Fighter Awards gala that finally brought the Australia-based boxer to Kampala last Wednesday.

Pivotal role

Up on his arrival, the former Olympic silver medalist and World Council Boxing (WBC) light middleweight champion expressed his desire to locate his family.

And it was a good find for New Vision as expressed by the Sports Editor Fred Kaweesi.

“Mugabi is a celebrated fighter but, for 28 years, there is a fight he had completely failed to win and that’s the fight to find his daughter,” he said.

Mugabi, Maureen, Lamunu and Sports Editor, Fred Kaweesi take a group photo

“We were touched by Mugabi’s feelings for the daughter. He is naturally a strong character, talks big but clearly looked vulnerable each time he asked to know how he could find his daughter,"Kaweesi added.

“It’s something he asked all the time. He really missed her. So it makes me feel proud that we’ve changed a chapter in the lives of this family. There was plenty of effort and sacrifice made to make this happen.”

“But as a leading media house in the country, this is just one of our several responsibilities and that’s changing lives in society. This reunion defines who we are,” he said.

Legendary boxer Mugabi meets daughter after 28 years

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