Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Boxing Federation and the National Olympic Committee have been at odds over the allocation of slots for boxers who will participate in the qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The disagreement comes days after Uganda’s Olympic Committee released a list of nine athletes who will begin late preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics next month in Dakar, Senegal.
The roster notably reintroduces former accomplished pugilists, including Shadir Musa Bwogi and his counterpart David Semujju. Both athletes had competed in the previous Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, a decision which the current Boxing Federation president, Moses Muhangi, said he was uncomfortable with.
The two pugilists had recently severed ties with the Uganda Boxing Federation, expressing their displeasure with what they perceived as unfair contracts relating to participation in the Boxing Champions League, and ventured into professional boxing.
However, their eligibility to represent the national team remains intact as per the stipulated regulations, given that they have not participated in more than ten professional matches.
In a letter dated 21 August 2023 signed by the UOC Secretary General, the Uganda Olympic Committee said the UBF failed to submit the relevant documents of some boxers on the list it had sent to the UOC to participate in the qualifiers.
“As at the deadline of 28 July 2023, the UOC entered the names of the athletes and officials with full information in our possession before the system could close.” reads part of the letter.
“The list submitted by the UOC includes athletes from the long list you provided us, athletes who either participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and or are recipients of the Olympic Scholarship, a decision we made according to the IOC mandate given to the UOC and as we indicated in our meeting on July 1, 2023 held in the National Council of Sports (NCS),” another part of the letter says.
It should be noted that in June the International Olympic Committee withdrew its recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA). Consequently, the IOC decided to strip the IBA of its role in the organization of boxing at the Olympic Games, including the qualification, boxing retained its place in the sports program for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
In the wake of the disagreement, various National Olympic Committees assumed the responsibility of nurturing the boxers’ talents in their respective nations, thereby shaping the contenders for the qualifiers and ultimately the big event itself.
In the midst of all these, the Uganda Olympic Committee agreed with the Uganda Boxing Federation that the UOC would only enter where the National Federation (UBF) has not recommended athletes for participation in the Olympic qualifiers.
But in his reply dated August 23, 2023, Muhangi refuted the allegations. He said the Olympic Committee chose to disregard the list of origins submitted by the UBF and chose the boxers they were interested in.
“There is no record of you asking us for missing information, either via email or hard copy, given that we last sent the long list on July 21, 2023, which was exactly seven days before the team registration deadline of July 28, 2023.”
“But you went ahead and registered boxers like Mr. Semujju David, Mr. Shadir Musa Bwogi, etc., whose names were never part of the long list that we provided,” reads part of Muhangi’s response.
According to Muhangi, while the federation had actually nominated a second list of boxers, the UOC reciprocated with a list of seven pugilists who had signaled interest in the Olympic qualifiers but were never part of the Uganda Boxing Federation’s framework.
Muhangi said the federation had agreed to give the athletes an opportunity through a trial mechanism, which they had to pass to ensure inclusion.
However, the funds to facilitate these trials were never allocated to the Uganda Boxing Federation.
Muhangi further argues that, having failed to conduct trials, the Olympic Committee went ahead to conclude those boxers about whom the Boxing Federation had no idea since they were not in the set-up.
He said this forced the federation to call an extraordinary meeting on 22 August 2022 and decided to excuse itself from the process and let the Olympic Committee continue with the preparation and presentation of the team because the Boxing Federation is not comfortable winning over a team that does not were selected in accordance with their approved national team selection policy.
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