That this year’s Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Rally is themed around safety comes as no surprise. Not with recent unfortunate events that saw driver Umar Daudi and his navigator Hamza Katende lose control of their car and knock dead two children; seriously injuring four others during the Southern Motor Club National Rally Championship last month.
Add to previous cases such as when Shafique Ssemujju and navigator Leone Ssenyange knocked a man dead in the 2010 edition and you know why you – the fan – must be the first police person; the first precaution.
Drivers, too; despite the right of way they enjoy during racing, need to exercise ultimate caution but you – the fan – must help in the cause by staying away from non-designated viewing points. For starters, the fact that we do not have professionally closed routes, where fans viewing sections are well established does not help matters.
We lack specially closed routes with special stages where fans can afford prime viewing, and a maximum of security elevated locations, additional protective installations such as walls and guard rails.
Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are some of the countries with specially closed routes nearest to the aforementioned; with the former two mostly using huge private farms.
The standard closed rally route must be at least 150kms and acquiring such prime land is not your every day chore. This weekend’s rally alone in Matugga will cover a total of 522km, including transport sections.
FMU, however, retain the dream of owning such specially closed routes though getting such huge chunks of land remains one of the bigger challenges. Now, that dream will not be realised in time for this weekend’s Pearl Rally that has only one point separating leader – Ivorian Gary Chaynes on 76 – from second-placed Zambian Mohamed Essa in the Africa Rally Championship standings.
Without the much documented professional closed routes FMU will still struggle to control the admittedly passionate rally fans and other traffic on the road during races. But still, basic but stringent measures must be taken. Following recent unfortunate incidents, FMU have at least managed to beef security ahead of the event; liaising with police and involving the army.
The UPDF, for example, pledged to provide two helicopters to help keep surveillance over the routes.
But as drivers finally wheel off tomorrow, fans – especially those driving – will be reminded that they are not part of the 41 rally drivers.
Vintage viewing points at Star City, Matugga and Sanga (six sections) have been earmarked and you – the fan – more than anyone else hold the first card to safety.
Boza Edwards reminds us of our boxing splendor
There was a time when boxing and Uganda beautifully moved in tandem. At any global event, if Ugandan was to win a medal, boxing was the provider.
Uganda has seven Olympic medals, but four of them were won by boxers. Eridadi Mukwanga, Leo Rwabwogo (twice), and John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi were the winners between 1968 and 1980.
Add 18 out of Uganda’s 44 medals from Commonwealth Games and there is little debate what the country’s most successful sport internationally is.
World titles from Cornelius Boza Edwards (WBC Super Featherweight), Mugabi, (World Junior Middleweight), Kassim Ouma (IBF Junior Middleweight), Ayub Kalule (Amateur World Welterweight) and Jackson Asiku (WBO Featherweight) even make any such debate criminal.
But recent administrative wrangles that kept the sport out of international spotlight for six years (until the 2014 Glasgow Games where boxing fetched two of the five medals) have somewhat managed to successfully hold back that success. However, just at the weekend, one man who kept Uganda’s flag high through the ‘80s again had us proud as his achievements in the game were rewarded.
Boza, the 58-year-old, who now lives in the USA, was last Saturday inducted in the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame alongside the sport’s legends Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson and had current best pound-for-pound boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. sing his praises.
“Edwards is a friend, he’s a mentor, and he was a lege
nd,” Mayweather said in his speech according to Nevada press, “He’s been a part of my success for 18 years as a professional. And without him I don’t know where my career would be. He’s a father figure”.
Currently a co-trainer of Light Welterweight Contender, Mexican Jesse Vargas; Boza had once again managed to have mentions of Uganda – not in relation of some controversial bills being tabled but of her son’s contribution to the sport.
Rated: Light Welterweight, Lightweight, Super Featherweight
Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Reach: 72 in (183 cm)
Born: May 27, 1956 (age 58)
Total fights: 53
Wins by KO: 34
No contests: 0
Courtesy of monitor.co.ug