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DISVANTAGED FEMALE BOXERS

 

 

Ray of hope for disadvantaged female boxers

Written by Frank Kisakye  -  observer.ug

Morine Nakilyowa (23), Lydia Nantale (17), Hellen Baleke (24) and Diana Tulyanabo (20) have represented Uganda at several boxing engagements but the much-needed financial and logistical support had hampered their careers until an unlikely source provided a new lifeline, writes Frank Kisakye.

L-R: Morine Nakilyowa, Hellen Baleke, Diana Tulyanabo and Lydia Nantale in their new gear

The four budding female boxers are no strangers to hardships having grown up and taken up boxing in the Kampala slum of Katanga a few years ago.

At the 2011 East African championships, Tulyanabo won the welterweight title while Baleke triumphed in the light welterweight division. At this year’s East Africa Inter-Cities Clubs boxing championships in Mombasa, the girls did not replicate their earlier success and Tulyanabo settled for runner-up position.

They blamed lack of facilitation for the poor show as even food had to be rationed.

“We ate only once a day and fed mostly on oranges we could easily afford and share amongst the four of us,” recalls Tulyanabo, who is the leader of the quartet. “And although our performance can be deemed as failure, we are still proud of representing Uganda given the circumstances under which we performed and the experienced we gained.”

And in a rare show of determination, the girls are determined to push on and hope one day the government will recognize their efforts and lend a helping hand.

“Our goal is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil but the government only comes in once you have become successful. It is rather sad that they don’t want to contribute towards that success,” adds Tulyanabo.

Granted, government support could come one day but for now, the girls have a reason to smile after US boxing philanthropist Blanca Gutierrez donated to them basic training gear including gloves, shorts and vests and speed wraps, among others.

One step: Nakilyowa, Baleke, Tulyanabo and Nantale checking out their new gear. Photos: Gosia Lukomska

Gutierrez, herself a former boxer, got to know about their plight. “I constantly think how unfair this world is to the female fighter and me and my friends all strive to make a difference in this world,” she says. “This donation is part of the need to open up communications between boxers in different places so the young ones too can see that there are other girls in other countries who love boxing.”

Blanca, who also owns the Babyface Boxing Gym in California, plans to give Tulyanabo and company international exposure through links with other female boxers worldwide.

Baleke acknowledges that she has striven hard to step out of the shadow of their male counterparts and the donation is the most idealistic offer they have ever received in their quest to become world beaters.

fkisakye@observer.ug

Sourcewww.observer.ug/index.php

 

 

 

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