James Odwori – Uganda’s Most Embellished and Most Remarkable Amateur Boxer

James Odwori, born October 23 1951, is mentioned to have been born in Kenya the place later as a retired boxer Odwori turned Kenya Prisons’ Boxing Crew Mentor and afterwards became a Kenya Nationwide Boxing Staff Mentor.

A fairly tall boxer for a gentle-flyweight, young Odwori founded himself as an international boxing phenomenon by profitable the Gold medal at the 1970 Commonwealth Game titles (held from July 17 to July 24 1970) in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the quarter-finals’ degree, Odwori beat Anthony Kerr of Scotland, on points on July 20 1970. Odwori moved on to the semi-finals where by he outpointed Mickey Abrams of England on July 22 1970. Lastly, 20-calendar year previous Odwori moved on to the final bout. Below Odwori defeated Anthony Davies of Wales, successful by points on July 24 1970.

As a boxer in the tournaments amongst Kenya and Uganda, and in the East African and Central African Championships, Odwori would establish himself as a superb knock-out specialist. In June 1972 the African Boxing Championships ended up held in Nairobi, Kenya. Odwori won gold in the gentle-flyweight division, in the remaining defeating Saad of the Sudan. Uganda would just take residence 5 gold medals (received by Odwori, Peter Odhiambo, Mohamed Muruli, Martin Akuba, and Benson Masanda) and two silver medals (won by John Opio and George Mathias Ouma).

Odwori’s biggest problem would be the Olympic Game titles of 1972, where, obviously James Odwori would be regarded as a main medal hope for Uganda. At 5’7″ (170 cm), young Odwori was fairly tall for a gentle-flyweight. Both of those his height and prolonged-reach have been added pros. On August 28 1972, in his preliminary initially bout, Odwori shown his prowess by technically knocking out two-inches shorter Filipino Vicente Arsenal by second spherical stoppage by the referee in the next spherical. Following of his bouts arrived on September 2, and Odwori capably stopped 5′ 2″ Egyptian Stated Ahmed El- Ashry in the second spherical. However, in the next quarter finals’ bout on September 7, Odwori was knocked out by 5′ 4″ Kim U-Gil of North Korea (who eventually received the silver medal), dropping Odwori out of medal contention, just enabling Odwori to settle for a respectable 5th put.

Reasonably clean from the Olympics, Odwori would up coming stand for Uganda at the All-Africa Games held in 1973 in Lagos, Nigeria from January 7 to 18, once again as a light-flyweight (48kg). In the preliminaries, Odwori removed Babak Slide of Senegal by second spherical knockout. At the quarter finals, Odwori hammered Tanzanian Bakari Salamani to a 2nd-round complex knockout! Up coming, Samuel Eke of Nigeria succumbed to James Odwori by third-spherical technical knockout. And finally, in the bid for the gold medal, lanky Odwori disposed of Ghanaian Young Chucks by initial-spherical complex knockout. Odwori experienced established himself as an worldwide power to be reckoned with!

These had been active and effective a long time for Uganda boxing! The Commonwealth Online games came all around, and they ended up held in Christchurch, new Zealand from January 24 – February 2 1974. Relocating on to the quarter-finals, James Odwori ably knocked out Bakari Selemani of Tanzania in round 2. In the semi finals, on January 31, Odwori outpointed Singaporean Syed Abdul Kadir. Of significance is that by winning the bronze medal, Kadir grew to become the initially particular person from Singapore to win his country a Commonwealth Games’ medal. To this working day, Kadir stays the most celebrated boxer within just Singapore. The following working day, in then finals, 23 calendar year-previous Odwori would be outpointed by 17 year-aged (at only 5’3″ tall) Stephen (Steve) Muchoki of Kenya. Odwori, standing at 5’7″ as a result experienced to settle for the silver medal, a medal level he was unaccustomed to. Odwori experienced hence unsuccessful to defend the Commonwealth Games’ title that he had received 4 yrs before. Noticeably, Muchoki is by significantly the most adorned boxer in Kenyan historical past. Amongst Muchoki’s accomplishments was the extra gold medal won in the light-flyweight boxing division, at the subsequent Commonwealth Online games held in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada, 1978).

At the Planet Amateur Boxing Championships held in Havana, Cuba in 1974 (August 17 – 30), light-flyweight Muchoki was defeated in the finals by Cuban Jorge Hernandez and settled for silver medal. James Odwori, at flyweight, was at these championships. This was disappointing for Odwori, Odwori’s crew-mates, and for Uganda as a whole. Odwori turned a single of a couple of boxers disqualified from competing simply because of exceeding the bodyweight limit! Ironically, Odwori had only just lately moved up in weight division, from gentle-flyweight exactly where Steve Muchoki remained. Odwori’s disqualification enabled his would-be opponent Felipe Rojas of Argentina to easily progress to the subsequent spherical. Skillful Kenyan Muchoki would go on to gain mild-flyweight gold in Belgrade, Yugoslavia where by the following Planet Beginner Boxing Championships were being held. And this time Muchoki outpointed Jorge Hernandez, the very same opponent he had faced in the finals of the exact match four several years previously! Muchoki was scheduled to battle at the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal, but Kenya withdrew from the Olympics for political reasons, leaving the first round as a walkover gain for Alican Az of Turkey. Az was eradicated by Park Chan-Hee of Korea in the next spherical. Jorge Hernandez of Cuba would remove Park Chan-Hee in the subsequent round, and sooner or later turn out to be the gold-medalist! The very same Jorge Hernandez that would subsequently be Muchoki’s most remembered, and worldwide rival!. Curiously, James Odwori is not listed as acquiring been scheduled to symbolize Uganda. By 1976, the presiding Amin routine was declining in toughness and was becoming heavily scrutinized and antagonized internationally. Governmental awareness to athletics experienced similarly waned, and several of Uganda’s major boxers were lacking from the crew, experienced remaining the place, ended up getting ready to convert experienced, or experienced become disillusioned since of insufficient coaching or interest. The political and financial problem became unfavorable for countrywide athletics, as it did in other spheres. The Amin routine was toppled in 1979.

The upcoming African Newbie Boxing Championships had been held in November 1974 in Kampala, Uganda a familiar residence territory of countless fanatics of Odwori and fellow Ugandan competitors. This time Odwori had moved up to the following division in body weight, the flyweight (51kg). The ultimate bout witnessed Odwori outpointing Isaac Kuria Maina of Kenya. Yet again Uganda overwhelmingly exhibited African dominance, gold medals in addition won by Ayub Kalule, Vitalis Bbege, Mohamed Muruli, and Mustapha Wasajja. Meanwhile Ugandans Ali Rojo and Jacob Odonga (who was months previously in the preliminaries of the Earth Boxing Championships held in August, knocked out by Leon Spinks who would acquire Olympic Gold in 1976 in Montreal two yrs later on Leon Spinks defeated Mohammed Ali in vying for the Planet Heavyweight Crown) settled for silver medals.

Based mostly on his countrywide and worldwide appearances and wins, provided his skillfulness and model, James Odwori in the 1970s set up an excellent novice path that has never ever been matched by any other Uganda boxer. James Odwori considerably stands out as Uganda’s most enjoyable and most embellished beginner boxer, even right after a long time have passed.

Nicole Thomas

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