By Swalley Kenyi
NATIONAL Boxing team Bombers coach Musa Kibirige Kent is dead. The Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) legendary boxer turned coach died at Mulago hospital last night.
Although his health has been deteriorating lately, Kent has been actively handling the Bombers and his last national duty was at the All Africa Games where he guided light flyweight boxer Ronald Serugo to win a bronze medal in Maputo, Mozambique.
The cause of his death could not be readily established but his longtime colleague Aciga Fura said that Kent had complained of being unwell few days ago.
Kent, who boxed as lightweight boxer was known for his hard fighting spirit both at club and national team levels way back in the days of Uganda Army in 1970s.
At the time of his death he was the UPDF head coach where he has groomed a number of prominent Ugandan boxers at amateur and professional ranks.
Former World junior middleweight Champion Kassim Ouma, Juma Ayiro and Robert Kamya are among the professional boxers, who he nurtured at UPDF while he was assistant coach to his successor Dick Katende.
After a decade in that capacity, Kent replaced Katende in the top Bombers job to guide the Bombers team in the Africa Zone Five Championship in Egypt in 2007.
“I feel happy. The appointment is an opportunity for me to implement ideas I learnt in courses I have attended,” the UPDF soldier, who spent most of his career around boxing rings said then.
He is expected to be buried in Gayaza near Kampala.
Boxing coach Kent passes on
Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and national team boxing coach Kent Musa Kibirige passed on Wednesday night after losing a fight to diabetes at the age of 53. According to Abdul Kent Minge, a son of the deceased, he passed on at around 11.30pm at Mulago Hospital having been transferred there from Bombo Military Hospital a few hours earlier.
Kent, as he is known to many, a renowned coach for the army side, has been ill since returning from the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique early this month where he tutored the national team of the discipline he served all his life. Under his guidance, Ronald Serugo won bronze in Maputo. Kent was supposed to travel to Azerbaijan for the World Championships last week but illness kept him here with professional boxer Sam Rukundo taking the mantle.
“Upon returning from Maputo, dad constantly complained of general body pain and took several pain killers,” Minge told Daily Monitor yesterday. “His eyes started swelling and I told him that this must be diabetes but the doctors couldn’t reach a conclusion.”
Still waiting a full medical report from the army doctors, Minge was at Mulago for the final moments of his father’s life.
“They moved him from Bombo to Mulago with complaints of headache and pain in the ribs. We read the Quran to him, he responded but never woke up,” he added.
Kent is survived by 12 children and three wives. Sande Kisuko, a Uganda Amateur Boxing Federation (Uabf) official, commended the service the deceased gave to the sport. Having joined boxing in the mid-70s with the Ugandan army, he fought through many lower divisions before retiring as a welterweight in 1988. Shortly after, he took up a coaching role with the National Resistance Army (NRA), now UPDF. “He worked with all officials and boxers really liked him because he was devoted. Boxing made him a soldier and without it, he wouldn’t have been in the army,” Kisuko said.
His son Minge and Isaac ‘Zebra’ Ssenyange, the national team (Bombers) captain, refused to rule out foul play.
“The army is still investigating as no one is satisfied so we cannot bury him today (yesterday). We will send him off tomorrow (today) in Gayaza,” Minge said.
Ssenyange, who was with him in Maputo, noted: “There is water he took which had a funny white substance as we were sparring and he hasn’t felt well since.” However, army spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye said he was not aware of the investigation.