Boxing: women boxers fight their way out of slums in Uganda

By Amrit Johal, Sports Legal Consultant, AJ Consulting, London, United Kingdom

Although more women are taking up the sport of professional boxing in the UK and being encouraged to do so (see GSLTR post by Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw of 27 October 2018), the opportunities for women fighters elsewhere are not so good.

Take Uganda, for example.

It has been reported in the international media that several women, in the Katanga slum in the capital Kampala, are training with a view to getting professional bouts and establishing themselves in the sport on a professional basis and as a way out of poverty.

To date, women boxers have been used as ‘curtain raisers’ to men’s bouts. In fact, male boxing is well established in Uganda, as a result of boxing having been encouraged in the military by the former colonial power, the UK. Incidentally, the former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, was a boxing champion when he was as an officer in the Uganda Colonial Army!

One Ugandan female boxer trying to make the grade is Lydia Nantale, who is 19 years old.

Encouraged by her boxing friends from the same slum, Nantale took up the sport when her mother became ill and she needed the money to pay for her medical bills.

Although the women train just as hard as the men and are just as fit and dedicated, so far, they have not drawn big purses. However, their prowess in the sport, particularly in bouts against their Kenyan competitors, has caught the attention of the Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF), and so the would-be Ugandan women international boxers are hoping that the UBF will take up their cause for more recognition and better professional opportunities for them.

At the same time, the women are also hoping that the Uganda Government will offer them the same support as that afforded to their male counterparts.

In the interests of having ‘a level playing field’ in any sport, they deserve, I think, nothing less!

Amrit Johal may be contacted by e-mail at ‘amrit@aj.consulting’