A revisit to Arua boxers’ club 2 years later, a lot has changed
todayAugust 21, 2021
By Sabir Musa
For many years now, 17-year-old Mahmoud Olekua has been in the circle of different sports activities including football, athletics and boxing. Of all these, boxing is the field he is passionate about and hopes to build his talent around it. Olekua (also known in boxing as Kassim Sting) joined the boxing discipline three years ago, practicing with other team members formerly under Arua Boxing Club, now registered as a Community Based Organisation in the names of Arua City Boxing Club. In 2019, a visit to the team on top of Arua hill revealed many several factors that led to the collapse of boxing in West Nile region; lack of support from stakeholders was the main problem affecting this sports discipline which was once vibrant in the region many years ago. “We don’t have good training facilities. For long we have engaged the council but there is no positive response” the then Club’s spokesperson Oshino Rashid, who is now the chairperson said in an interview in 2019. Besides the poor training facilities, they also lacked headgears, punching bags and inadequate gloves.
Sigh of relief However two years later, after Arua attained city status, management of this club registered it as a Community Based Organization, thereby attracting more youths including 4 females. This was seen by boxing enthusiasts as a positive move towards reviving this sports discipline in the region. Arua City Boxing Club was recently offered space at a One-Stop youth centre in Arua Central division to train its over 60 members. This was through the help of youth council wing in Arua City Council, making them more organized. “We are so grateful that 20 percent of what we lobbied for is now available. We now have a training space and some of the equipment needed”, the club Chairperson, Rashid Oshino says. With the little they have acquired so far, the club is hopeful that their target for success will be achieved soon. The Club’s Head Coach, Muhammad Okulega says, “Our main aim is to raise and build the strong fighters from this region”. Okulega believes that the region is blessed with ‘young people’ with talents but only lacks adequate support. It is on this background that the Coach appeals for a stakeholder involvement in nurturing the ripe boxing talent available in the region. In this newly branded Arua City Boxing Club, Kassim Sting, who boasts of a three year experience is currently the head of all the amateur boxers. “I promise that I am going to make it to the best and my goal is to win more and more”, he is confident of winning the upcoming fights when lockdown is lifted.
Challenges? Joseph Aliobe, a veteran boxer in West Nile region cites negative attitude by members of the wider community as a challenge hindering the development of boxing in this region. He says many people still associate boxing to hooliganism. This he says if well-developed and fully supported could promote the discipline in the region. “If only we can be able to change the negative attitude, a lot will improve in boxing discipline in our region. I don’t know why we still have this negative feeling for boxing, but we have seen people who are making a living out of it. And yes this is a major call for our stakeholders that some children could easily be lured into professional boxing if we get the necessary support”, he says.
Opportunities The Uganda Boxing Federation in a recent press conference announced plans to select boxers to form the national team. This gives an opportunity for some mushrooming boxers in West Nile region to up their game. However the trials will be limited to members of registered clubs. Currently, Arua City Council has mooted plans to register all clubs under all sports disciplines in the City. This according to the city sports officer Lika Muktar Amin is intended to tap into many of the untapped talents in the region. “The local governments have a central role to play in identifying and developing sports talents. One major call we have right now is for our brothers and sisters who are much interested in the discipline to come and register so that we can plan what we can do. We strongly encourage people not to operate in isolation. There could be more future, but of what are the opportunities when there are no people to take them”, he said. A number of suggestions have also been fronted by boxing enthusiasts in the region for discipline to be incorporated into school co-curricular activities to popularize it and to make it more vibrant like other sports disciplines especially football and athletics. However Arua city sports Officer Lika Muktar Amin says this is in the pipeline. “Schools are the biggest avenue of sports. Yes incorporating this idea in co-curricular activities in schools is very important, just like soccer, boxing will be strong because it’s much easier to pick from school level. So school is an organized institution where we can get talents very easily. We are looking at in the near future to venture into schools because we have a number of sports activities in the school calendar. We are looking at selling the idea to schools to help us tap these talents that are still lingering in the community”, he said.
UBF activities resume The President of Uganda Boxing Federation, Moses Muhangi while addressing Journalists in a press conference on Saturday 7th August announced that boxing activities are set to resume following the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by the government after more than 17 months. First on the list of activities that will start include selection of boxers for trials to form the national team, and these successful people will be subjected to Covid-19 test as one of the conditions issued by Ministry of Heath as games resumes. Arua City Boxing Club believes this is an opportunity to showcase some of the talents at the club.
COVER PHOTO: Mahmoud Olekua punching the boxing bag at their new training space in Arua City as his colleague looks-on. Photo by Sabir Musa.