Bwogi was the only person in a team of 13 Ugandans who got a slot to the Tokyo Olympics.
Boxing referee judge Vicky Byarugaba talks to boxer Shadir Musa (left) at Lugogo. PHOTO: Johnson Were
He doesn't easily pass for a boxer. His face is too smooth and he also has the springy gait of a dancer. But that is all deceptive of Shadir Musa Bwogi.
He is a boxer, and one who also hits hard, as his recent outing at the Africa Olympic Qualifier in Dakar, Senegal proved. Bwogi was the only person in a team of 13 Ugandans who got a slot to the Tokyo Olympics. He spoke about how he realised his Olympic dream and also revealed how he plans to fine-tune for Tokyo in an interview with New Vision.
What does it feel like to be the only Ugandan boxer who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics?
I have this good and bad feeling. It feels great to have qualified. But it is also hurting that I was the only Ugandan.
I would love an Olympic team with more Ugandan boxers.
Did you see it coming, or was qualification a surprise?
Ans: I saw it in advance. I was confident. To tell you something, I have never prepared like I trained for Dakar. I was also motivated by a team of coaches and a manager. They kept telling me that I was the most talented Ugandan, and I was going to make it. Coaches Patrick Lihanda, Twaibu Mayanja, Hussein Khalil and Hassan Khalil, Tonny Sekabira, Dan Kasole, Lawrence Kalyango, Sam Kabugo, and Sseguya. They all told me I could do it.
What was it like on the decisive day?
Ans: I was under a lot of pressure. We were all tense. I remember at one point even our president fasting until someone qualified.
How long have you had this Olympic dream?
Ans: Since 2009 when I started boxing.
Looking back at the Dakar event, would you say Uganda was adequately prepared?
Ans: The competition was stiff. Yes, we had serious preparation but I must say it wasn't up to international standard. While we were having ordinary drills in Luzira, other countries camped in superpowers like Cuba, Kazakhstan, Russia, and German. They trained and also had trial matches. By the time they came to Dakar, they were more set than us. But our performance also sent out a strong message. That we could get four fighters in the semi-finals without serious international exposure, was proof of huge potential.
So, going forward what is your advice in the final qualifier in Paris?
Ans: My feeling is that all the other boxers shouldn't break training. Preparations should continue until Paris. We still have chances of getting more boxers to Tokyo.
Musa qualified for 2020 Olympics. File Photo
How are you preparing for Tokyo?
Ans: Of course, I will work even harder. I am seriously training and am also working towards a medal. But I also need a lot of support. For starters, I need media support to boost my brand. Then like I said earlier, I also need a proper camp- both local and international.
The reason, for instance, Kenya and Zambia are doing better than us is because they participate in more AIBA competitions.
We are much better than them but we are not exposed. Then, I am also in for consistency. The team that went to Dakar should be maintained. It is from here that the Paris team should be drawn.
What are your plans after Tokyo?
Ans: I will turn pro. That will be time to earn some money from my ring skills.
If you weren't a boxer, what would you be?
Ans: I would be a dancer or rapper. I love Hip Hop, R&B, Kadongo Kamu and slow music.
Tell us about your family.
I have a wife but no child yet.
Were your parents happy with the idea of young Bwogi becoming a boxer?
They were very bitter because they knew I would not go far with education. But I managed to get to Senior Four.
Do you remember your first fight?
Yes of course. This was in 2009 in the Sam Sam Tournament at East Coast, organized by a Dutch group. I was weighing 42 kgs and my opponent Juma Miiro who also happened to be my best friend weighed 46ks. He knocked me out.
Who taught you boxing?
I was privileged to have many coaches. There was Hussein Khalil and Hassam Khalil. There was also coach Opio and Dick Katende and Adam Kassim.
How did your parents receive the news from Dakar?
They were very happy. They would actually have been at the airport if we hadn't returned at 5 am.
What do you do outside the ring?
I am a fashionista and model. I operate under Chicago Fashions. This was largely based in Naguru but I am now expanding to other outlets. I am also a car salesman at Jambo Mart. I have sold over 100 cars.
What is your day like?
I wake up between 5 and 6 am and go for about eight kilometers of roadwork. I return and take a shower then have breakfast. Then head to work at 8 am. At about 9.30 am, I head to the gym for my morning work-out at East Coast Boxing Club. At mid-day, I take lunch then I am back at work.
WHAT THEY SAY
Juma Miiro (Commonwealth bronze medalist)
He is a very determined boxer. He is also a good team player who inspires his colleagues. Having grown up together in Naguru, he is like a brother to me. When on national duty, we would always share a room together with another national boxer Nasir Bashir.
Patrick Lihanda (Two time Olympian and national coach)
He is a good southpaw who also is well behaved and listens to instructions. He is very promising. He is also a leader and the most fluent speaker on the national team thus his captaincy. But he needs to work on his temperament especially when he is on the losing end.
Vincent Byarugaba (Former national coach and Shadir's coach at KCCA)
He is a clever boxer who is also technically proficient. He definitely has a good future and can put up a good show in Tokyo if he works on his weak spots. His weakness lies largely in his counterpunching approach. He is only good against attacking opponents.