The Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) and Uganda Professional Boxing Council (UPBC)’s relationship has been misunderstood, direction misinterpreted and yes, the National Council of Sports got it right this time round.
The UBF has been misrepresented on various media platforms on matters of their relationship and governance of boxing as a sport in relation to the UPBC.
This actually started after the president called for lists of athletes to be used as a basis for rewarding excelling sportsmen dating back to 1954 across the entire sports spectrum in the country, which in its own way somehow excluded some professional boxers.
The President (Museveni) was very clear on what lists he needed and these were for those athletes that have represented the country in competitions such as the Olympic games, commonwealth, and other continental games.
His call remained silent on professional events staged at the world and continental level simply because they are organized and competed for in an entirely different arrangement from the aforementioned.
For instance, the Olympics, commonwealth, and amateur games at the continental level are organized and competed for by athletes from several countries (not less than 10) at any given occurrence yet the professional boxing bouts are marjory between two opposing athletes. But, this will not be the debate for today in particular.
Uganda as a country manages all sports and their activities through the Ministry of Education and Sports and subsequently through the National Council of sports (NCS) and thereafter to the National Sports Associations/Federations.
By virtue of this structure, the NCS is mandated by law to recognize only one sports body to manage a given sport in the country at a given time.
The legislation was enacted to specifically streamline the administrative structures and do away with unnecessary conflict. This only means that all other remaining organizations or groups taking part in the same specific sport must subscribe to that organization recognized by the NCS.
For example, football is fully controlled and administered at all levels by FUFA, the organisation that is recognized and registered with the NCS. Therefore the remaining groups of football administration such as the Uganda Premier League League, Uganda Beach Soccer Association, Futsal Association Uganda, among others subscribe to FUFA as their administrative mother body.
For the case of boxing in Uganda, the body registered and recognized by the NCS is the UBF, and under the UBF are commissions like the Coaches Commission, the Referee & Judges commission, the Athletes commission among others.
The UPBC is one of the commissions that should subscribe to the UBF administratively. There can not be an establishment or sports body in Uganda that administratively reports or subscribes nowhere as claimed by our friends in the UPBC.
This should not be misinterpreted because of the UPBC’s external allegiance to African and International professional boxing groups. It is just the same way the UBF also affiliates with AFBC and AIBA at continental and world stages respectively.
Locally the UBF subscribes to the NCS as per the structures. Therefore, it is in my opinion that the UPBC affiliates or operates under the auspices of the UBF for the proper execution of its duties.
The professional boxing commission was created to manage the affairs of athletes or boxers who have excelled at the national teams or from the amateur setting and would wish to turn their boxing talents into careers or money-making ventures.
There was a need to ensure that these athletes are properly initiated into pro-boxing and managed, including connecting those already in the setting to other pro groups worldwide and report their progress to the government of Uganda through the recognized sports association for boxing.
This commission would, therefore, operate on a set of terms that are in accordance with the standards of the sport of boxing both internally and on the international scene.
The UBF and UPBC fell out during that time when boxing had administrative wrangles which in the end got professional boxers into thinking that they were independent of the country’s legislation which dictates that the UPBC subscribes to the NCS through UBF. They now think they are on their own which is very unfortunate.
I raised these administrative concerns in 2018 to the UPBC’s upper echelons, highlighting to the need to work together with the UBF and reduce the communication gap between the two groups in the interests of serving the sport.
I also opened up on a set of operational standards that we both needed to workaround. However, I wasn’t taken seriously until recently when the President made a sound of the reward-for-excellence program.
Could they be pretending to be victims of the circumstance?
The proper and rightful administrative way of channeling the voices or pleas of our professional boxers should be through the UBF as advised by NCS. It would be then that the UBF presents those voices and ideas to the NCS in the relevant forums and subsequently to the other structures of government for if there is need to escalate.
The issue today is about the rewards but it might be a different matter the following day, and this means there is an urgent need to openly advise my UPBC friends to accept and get to terms with the UBF for effective representation.
Just like the money-making arm of football (Uganda Premier League) or athletics and or basketball won’t seek their own recognition by the government (NCS) and instead operate under the already registered and recognized National Sports Federations/Associations, the same should be for UPBC.
While the president requested for lists of excelling athletes in the Olympic games, commonwealth games and other continental events, knowingly or unknowingly excluding those other engagements our pro boxers participate in, the way forward should be for UPBC to immediately submit the excelling athletes to the UBF and then UBF would start a discussion with NCS and Ministry of Education and Sports to forge a way into how pro boxers can be included on the lists as stated.
This is the only way we can improve the governance of boxing as a sport in the country and effectively better the wellbeing of our boxers at both the amateur and professional levels.