Mustapha Wasajja – Uganda’s Mysterious Boxing Champion

Mustapha (Mustafa) Wasajja (Wassaja / Wassajja / Wasaja) was born on July 16, 1953 in Kampala, Uganda). As an newbie, Wasajja fought at welter-, light-center-, and middle-weight. Wasajja, debilitated by weak spot and shakiness for yrs, at some point succumbed to Parkinsonism on April 26 2009, around Kampala in Uganda

In the early 1970’s, Wasajja was underneath the tutelage of Uganda’s legendary and most popular mentor Peter Grace Sseruwagi (Seruwagi) and nationwide trainer Kesi Odongo (who at the 1962 Commonwealth Game titles held in Perth in Australia, won a a silver medal in the light-weight division). As a mild-welterweight, Sseruwagi represented Uganda at the 1960 Olympic Game titles held in Rome but was eliminated outside the house medal competition. Extended-time Uganda sports formal and ex-Uganda army commander Francis (Frank) Nyangweso, a mild-middleweight contender at that time, was also removed in the before bouts at the similar Online games.

Wasajja’s 1st distinguished international accomplishment came in the African Newbie Championships held in his indigenous Uganda, in Kampala in November 1974. Wasajja received gold in the middleweight division. Gold medal wins by fellow countrymen James Odwori (Oduori), Ayub Kalule, Vitalis Bbege, Mohamed Muruli together with silver medal wins by Ali Rojo and Jacob Odongo, even further recognized two-time (1970 and 1974) Commonwealth boxing overall champion Uganda as international ring master. Earlier on in January 1974 at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, Wasajja, as Uganda’s middleweight, was in the quarter finals knocked out in the to start with spherical by Les Rackley of New Zealand.

And at the Environment Boxing Championships held in August 1974, Wasajja was outpointed in the quarter-finals by Dragomir Vujkovic of Yugoslavia. An future key outing for the wonderful Ugandans would have been at the 1976 Olympic Game titles in Montreal in Canada. Quite a few African nations, which includes Uganda, boycotted these Game titles. Noteworthy Ugandan boxers these kinds of as Wasajja, Ayub Kalule, and Cornelius Bbosa (Boza-Edwards), would henceforth move into the growing field of qualified boxing. These ended up the seeds of the 1980’s golden era of Uganda boxing during which Ugandans, notably Ayub Kalule, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, and John “the Beast” Mugabi grew to become qualified entire world champions.

Of observe is that a tune up for the 1976 Olympic Games included the intercontinental Pre-Olympic Boxing Match held in Montreal from November 27 to December 1, 1975. Uganda was represented by Wasajja (middleweight), difficult punching and dreaded knockout expert and Africa Champion Vitalis Bbege (welterweight), and Jacob Odonga (mild-heavyweight). Only Wasajja emerged winner, although his counterparts ended up defeated in their finals. In the quarter-finals, Wasajja completely outpointed Pietro Contarini of Canada. This was adopted by Wasajja beating Jacobus Schmidt of Holland on factors. The finals included Wasajja beating Bryan Gibson of Canada by 4:1. Vitalis (Vitalish) Bbege was also scheduled to combat for Uganda at the impending but aborted Olympics. Bbege shortly moved to West Germany (FDR) where by he boxed as a club novice and even represented Germany at a dual pleasant with the United States. He is very well settled in Germany with family members and he is a health and boxing trainer in Flensburg.

Wasajja fought in 28 formal fights as a professional boxer. These fights of Wasajja took place from March 1977 to March 1983, and Wasajja grew to become a major-ten globe contender as a mild-heavyweight and cruiserweight from the late 1970’s to the mid-1980’s. Apart from his past 3 fights, his bouts primarily took area in Denmark and Norway. Of his only experienced wins and one draw (25 bouts), 76% of them went the distance, Wasajja registering 24% as knocks-outs of his opponents. Wasajja stood out as a southpaw, a generally agile, rapid, and endurance endowed puncher who would endure all the rounds other than produce as a electrical power knockout pugilist.

On September 9, 1978 in Copenhagen, Wasajja technically knocked out legendary former world light-weight-heavyweight Bob (Robert Lloyd) Foster with a retirement in the 5th spherical. The lanky 6’3″ tall Foster, viewed as one of the world’s all-time (mild-heavyweights) greats had in excess of the several years been in quite a few vicious battles with notable fighters, together with epic heavyweights like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Ernie Terrel. He is regarded as the most effective boxer to have hailed from the United states of america state of New Mexico. Foster reached combined benefits when combating the heavyweight boxers. Foster had also retired various instances and manufactured comebacks. When Foster battled Wasajja, he was aged 40 and definitely way earlier his prime. After just one more battle thereafter (a rematch with Bob Hazelton in which Foster was knocked), Foster would retire for the final time. Wasajja was only 25 at that time. Foster lay his gloves down, ending with a wonderful 56 wins (46 by knockout) and 8 losses.

From his specialist debut in March 1977 right until February 13, 1982, Wasajja achieved a 100% winning streak. It was then that he battled legendary Michael Spinks (afterwards to grow to be Planet Heavyweight Winner) for the light-heavyweight crown, in the New Jersey Atlantic Town in the Usa. Wasajja’s crossing the Atlantic for a chance at the belt, spelled his demise. Prior to the combat with Spinks, Wasajja, regarded as a mystery person (whose names were being challenging to spell) by the American followers and writers became the number a single rated contender for the WBA mild-heavyweight crown. Beforehand, in 1980, Wasajja experienced come to be the 3rd-rated WBA contender.

Subsequently, Wasajja was knocked out by Spinks in the sixth spherical, and as a result unsuccessful to capture the Environment Boxing Affiliation (WBA) title. In July of the exact 12 months, Wasajja dropped his upcoming bout (which went the distance) to Tony Mundine in France, and thereafter in Lusaka (Zambia), Wasajja was knocked out by Zambian Lottie Mwale in only a few rounds, and consequently failing to capture the British Commonwealth Light-heavyweight title. At age 29 Wasajja had fought his previous experienced fight. Without doubt, the final a few had been bouts have been Wasajja’s hardest and most significant they were being from recreation opponents. Unfortunately, it was in the 3 that Wasajja succumbed. These a few considerably wounded and exposed Wasajja’s weaknesses. Nonetheless, Wasajja proven himself as one particular of the greatest Uganda boxers, and drastically as a person of the greatest amid the pioneering Uganda skilled boxers.

Of note, Lottie Mwale, who was the exact age as Wasajja, boxed professionally until finally 1994 he stands out as just one of the greatest of African boxers. He participated in 53 experienced bouts received most of them by knockout and was also an African Boxing Union (ABU) champion. The greatest Zambian boxer succumbed in 2005, at age 53, to Parkinsonism which is the exact affliction that legendary Muhammad Ali endures. Zambians, with their love for boxing, seemingly harbor an appreciably enduring memory of Mustapha Wasajja. And Zambians, have for many years been classic boxing rivals of Ugandans. Charles Chisamba, the Zambian gentle-heavyweight champion, carries the nickname, “Wasajja” (“Wasaja”). On January 24, 2009 in Lusaka, Chisamba outpointed Tanzania’s Mbaruku Kheri in an African Boxing Union (ABU) light-weight-heavyweight vacant title and therefore grew to become Africa champion. Wasajja has guided youthful and promising boxers at Mulago Yellow Boxing Club, some of whom have starred as gurus abroad…predominantly in Europe, notably in the Scandinavian international locations.

In an October 8 2005 post by Moses Mugalu in the Uganda newspaper “Every day Observe,” Wasajja is stated to converse about getting invested in Kenya organizations (alongside one another with extended-time boxing counterpart Ayub Kalule) just after retirement from boxing, on until 1990. But Wasajja claimed to have eventually been duped by Kenyan company counterparts a consequence of which he turned a poverty-stricken slum dweller in Mulago in Kampala. His five youngsters have been in the same way struggling, some youthful and not enrolled in school. Wasajja recounted his memorable amateur exhibition bout with his government President, Idi Amin, shortly right after Wasajja won the Africa Championships title in the collection held in Kampala in 1975. Wasajja was obligated to lose in that puppet bout. In the “Keep track of” interviews, Wasajja is explained as weakly, frail, shaky, and at times stammering,” but that both of those his memory and speech are pretty focused and apparent and he maintains his pleasure and humor.

In the Uganda newspaper, “Bukedde,” dated July 28 2008, an ailing bedridden Wasajja mentions to Ibrahim Katongole that it is his little ones Rehemah Namuddu, Nakayiwa and Salif Abdul who have a tendency to him. In accordance to a former nationwide boxer, Charles Lubulwa, some of Wasajja’s sufferings stemmed from disconnecting himself from the boxing bodies and individuals that experienced utilized him and supported him in the course of his boxing profession abroad. They experienced, mainly, lost call with him.

As regards the unforgettable fight with Michael Spinks in which he lost in 1982, Wasajja strongly suspects that food items specified to him prior to the struggle (in Atlantic Metropolis, New Jersey) was tainted and for that reason weakened and disabled him: he claimed that foul engage in was associated in his dropping the fight. This was Wasajja’s most unforgettable and most prestigious struggle. And who understood? Wasajja fought with the two Spinks brothers who turned earth heavyweight champions! Just one of the brothers defeat Muhammad Ali, and the other was beaten by Mike Tyson, amongst other issues! Also, notably, Wasajja fought throughout an period regarded as a golden one particular for gentle-heavyweights. These incorporated Michael Spinks, Dwight Mohammed Qawi (formerly Dwight Braxton), Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (previously Eddie Gregory), Marvin Johnson, and Mathew Saad Muhammad (formerly Mathew Franklin, and born Maxwell Antonio Loach).

Wasajja was a noteworthy novice Uganda boxing winner and an Africa newbie boxing champion, but his wins were not as quite a few or as striking as people of his counterparts these types of as Ayub Kalule and James Odwori. In the experienced ranks he rose to notable heights, but he did not win that coveted environment title. Wasajja’s fame is intertwined with his currently being a mysterious Ugandan champion, a single who experienced shots at both equally earth title and the Africa professional title but arrived shorter of profitable. Wasajja, Uganda’s mysterious winner turned superb as one of Uganda’s groundbreaking qualified boxers, 1 of people who had the audacity to problem some of the most effective boxers on the world.

Nicole Thomas

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