Last week, High court judge Lydia Mugambe delivered a landmark sports ruling when she settled the score between two boxing factions.
In doing so, the judge threw out a petition by the Kenneth Gimugu group that sought to nullify the parallel polling exercise that saw the election of Moses Muhangi as president of Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF). This, for now, ends months of wrangling but behind the scenes, the fight is far from over until the country’s two sports powerbrokers come together.
Whereas the Muhangi camp is supported by the National Council of Sports (NCS), Gimugu is firmly backed by the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC), where he also sits on the legal committee.
The complexity of this scenario could lead to a repeat of 2010 when Uganda failed to send a boxer to the Commonwealth Games. The 2018 Games are just weeks away in Gold Coast, Australia.
Understandably, the Muhangi group, whose chief strategist is former boxer Godfrey Nyakana, has gone on a chest-thumping spree to celebrate the victory which will win them public acceptance.
However, I will be the last to celebrate this so-called victory mainly because it is just a mere change of guard akin to putting old wine in new bottles. Besides, history has showed us that one can never be certain about stability in boxing administration.
For instance, the very people who orchestrated Muhangi’s rise to the top could be responsible for the chaos that has engulfed the boxing administration in the past. They are the same people who propped up Gimugu and many others before him, only to fall out and back a new entrant.
Most notable among them is Nyakana (new patron), whose influence looms large on the 33-year-old Muhangi to the extent that he is widely viewed as the power behind Muhangi’s throne.
Others such as Fred Kavuma (vice president) and Simon Barigo (general secretary) have been in and out of boxing for a longtime and, until recently, were Gimugu’s right hand men.
MUHANGI ON SPOT
Muhangi is relatively unknown in boxing circles but I’m impressed with his gospel of reconciliation though he needs to walk the talk if he is to win over the hearts of the sport’s fraternity.
With several sections looking at him as a mere figurehead, I’m optimistic Muhangi could prove them wrong if he gets all warring people back on board or else he will spend most of his time fending off the Gimugu camp instead of taking boxing forward.
Indeed, the sport has not had a smooth transition since 1993 when Maj Gen Francis Nyangweso handed over the leadership baton to David Agong. Since then, all leaders have left in acrimonious fashion.
Vicky Byarugaba ousted Agong in a popular coup in 2000. However, the former found himself on the receiving end in 2004 after being forced out by the people who had propelled him to ‘power’.
Hajji Ishaka Kamoga was a popular choice when he took over the mantle but his lack of fulltime commitment led to a tumultuous time before he was unceremoniously shown the exit to pave way for Roger Ddungu.
Ddungu’s big-man approach to managing the sport started on a positive note before degenerating into some sort of autocracy. That’s why when he quit in 2009 to concentrate on UOC duties; he still tried to impose himself on UBF, something that fanned more chaos until the advent of Gimugu in 2013 as the unanimous figure.
Unfortunately, Gimugu also fell into the trap of power and his all-out effort to hang onto the top job may have washed away the many positives he did to create sanity when he took over.
So, Muhangi has his work cut out to bring all stakeholders on board and how he manages the executive will go a long way in defining his legacy..
The author is operations director of The Observer Media Ltd.