Mustapha Wasajja – The Mysterious Ugandan Boxing Champion

Mustapha (Mustafa) Wasajja (Wassaja / Wassajja / Wasaja) was born on July 16, 1953 in Kampala, Uganda). As an amateur, Wasajja fought at welterweight, light-medium and medium. Wasajja, weakened by weakness and tremors for years, finally succumbed to parkinsonism on April 26, 2009, near Kampala in Uganda.

In the early 1970s, Wasajja was under the tutelage of the legendary and most famous Ugandan coach Peter Grace Sseruwagi (Seruwagi) and national coach Kesi Odongo (who at the 1962 Commonwealth Games held in Perth, Australia, won a silver medal in the lightweight division). . As a light welterweight, Sseruwagi represented Uganda at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, but was eliminated out of contention for the medal. Francis (Frank) Nyangweso, a veteran Ugandan sports officer and former Ugandan army commander, a light middleweight contender at the time, was also eliminated in previous bouts at the same Games.

Wasajja’s first distinguished international achievement came at the African Amateur Championship held in his native Uganda, Kampala, in November 1974. Wasajja won gold in the middleweight division. Gold medal winnings for fellow countrymen James Odwori (Oduori), Ayub Kalule, Vitalis Bbege, Mohamed Muruli; Along with the silver medals won by Ali Rojo and Jacob Odongo, it also established the two-time Commonwealth Boxing General Champion (1970 and 1974) Uganda as an international ringmaster. In early January 1974 at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, Wasajja, as the Ugandan middleweight, was in the quarterfinals knocked out in the first round by New Zealand’s Les Rackley.

And at the World Boxing Championship held in August 1974, Wasajja was beaten in the quarterfinals by Yugoslavia’s Dragomir Vujkovic. A next big outing for the glorious Ugandans would have been at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal in Canada. Many African countries, including Uganda, boycotted these Games. Notable Ugandan boxers such as Wasajja, Ayub Kalule and Cornelius Bbosa (Boza-Edwards) would henceforth move into the growing field of professional boxing. These were the seeds of the golden age of boxing in Uganda in the 1980s, during which Ugandans, notably Ayub Kalule, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, and John “the Beast” Mugabi became professional world champions.

Notably, a set-up for the 1976 Olympics included the International Pre-Olympic Boxing Tournament held in Montreal from November 27 to December 1, 1975. Uganda was represented by Wasajja (middleweight), a hard hitting specialist and feared knockout and Champion of Africa. Vitalis Bbege (welterweight) and Jacob Odonga (light heavyweight). Only Wasajja came out the winner, while his counterparts were beaten in their finals. In the quarterfinals, Wasajja far outscored Pietro Contarini of Canada. This was followed by Wasajja beating Jacobus Schmidt of the Netherlands on points. The final involved Wasajja beating Bryan Gibson of Canada 4: 1. Vitalis (Vitalish) Bbege was also scheduled to fight for Uganda in the upcoming but aborted Olympics. Bbege soon moved to West Germany (FDR), where he boxed as a club fan and even represented Germany in a friendly double with the United States. He is well established in Germany with his family and is a fitness and boxing coach in Flensburg.

Wasajja fought in 28 official fights as a professional boxer. These Wasajja fights took place from March 1977 to March 1983, and Wasajja became one of the top ten contenders in the world as a light heavyweight and cruiserweight from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. Aside from his last three fights, his bouts took place essentially in Denmark and Norway. Of his only professional wins and a draw (25 fights), 76% of them went the distance, Wasajja recorded 24% as knockouts from his opponents. Wasajja excelled as a southpaw, a mostly agile, fast, and stamina-end puncher who would withstand all rounds except deliver as a power knockout boxer.

On September 9, 1978 in Copenhagen, Wasajja technically knocked out legendary former world light heavyweight Bob (Robert Lloyd) Foster with a fifth round retirement. The lanky 6’3 “tall Foster, considered one of the world’s all-time greats (light heavyweight), had been in many fierce battles with notable fighters, including epic heavyweights like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Ernie Terrel. He is regarded as the best fighter hailing from the state of New Mexico, USA after his prime. After one more fight thereafter (a rematch with Bob Hazelton in which Foster was knocked down), Foster He would retire for the last time. Wasajja was only 25 at the time. Foster put down his gloves, finishing with a wonderful 56 wins (46 by knockout) and 8 losses.

From his professional debut in March 1977 to February 13, 1982, Wasajja achieved a 100% winning streak. It was then that he fought the legendary Michael Spinks (later to become World Heavyweight Champion) for the light heavyweight crown, in New Jersey Atlantic City in the US Wasajja crossed the Atlantic in search of an opportunity in the belt, meant his disappearance. Before the fight with Spinks, Wasajja, regarded as a mysterious man (whose names were difficult to spell) by American fans and writers, became the number one contender for the WBA light heavyweight crown. Previously, in 1980, Wasajja had become the third WBA contender.

Wasajja was subsequently knocked out by Spinks in the sixth round and thus failed to capture the World Boxing Association (WBA) title. In July of the same year, Wasajja lost her next match (which was distance) to Tony Mundine in France, and then in Lusaka (Zambia), Wasajja was knocked out by Zambian Lottie Mwale in just three rounds, and therefore was unable to capture the British Commonwealth light heavyweight title. At 29, Wasajja had fought his last professional fight. Without a doubt, the last three fights were the hardest and most significant in Wasajja; they were against game opponents. Sadly, it was in all three that Wasajja succumbed. These three significantly injured and exposed Wasajja’s weaknesses. However, Wasajja established himself as one of the best boxers in Uganda, and significantly as one of the greatest among the pioneering pioneers of Uganda.

Notably, Lottie Mwale, who was the same age as Wasajja, boxed professionally until 1994; He stands out as one of the greatest African boxers. He participated in 53 professional bouts won most of them by knockout and was also champion of the African Boxing Union (ABU). Zambia’s greatest boxer succumbed in 2005, at the age of 53, to parkinsonism, which is the same affliction suffered by the legendary Muhammad Ali. Zambians, with their love of boxing, apparently harbor a lasting memory of Mustapha Wasajja. And the Zambians have been traditional boxing rivals to the Ugandans for decades. Charles Chisamba, the light heavyweight champion of Zambia, goes by the nickname “Wasajja” (“Wasaja”). On January 24, 2009 in Lusaka, Chisamba defeated Mbaruku Kheri of Tanzania in a vacant African Boxing Union (ABU) light heavyweight title and thus became champion of Africa. Wasajja has mentored promising young boxers at Mulago Yellow Boxing Club, some of whom have excelled as professionals abroad … mainly in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries.

In an October 8, 2005 article by Moses Mugalu in the Ugandan newspaper “Daily Monitor”, Wasajja is said to speak of having invested in Kenyan businesses (along with his longtime boxing counterpart Ayub Kalule) after of retiring from the box, until 1990. But Wasajja claimed to have finally been misled by Kenyan trading counterparts; as a result, he became a dweller in a poverty-stricken slum in Mulago, Kampala. His five children were struggling similarly, some were young and not enrolled in school. Wasajja recounted his memorable amateur exhibition fight with his chief executive, Idi Amin, shortly after Wasajja won the African Championship title in the series held in Kampala in 1975. Wasajja was bound to lose in that puppet match. In the “Monitor” interviews, Wasajja is described as weak, frail, shaky, and occasionally stuttering, “but that both his memory and speech are quite focused and clear, and he maintains his pride and humor.

In the Ugandan newspaper “Bukedde”, dated July 28, 2008, a sick, bedridden Wasajja mentions to Ibrahim Katongole that his sons Rehemah Namuddu, Nakayiwa and Salif Abdul are taking care of him. According to a former national boxer, Charles Lubulwa, some of Wasajja’s suffering was due to disconnecting from boxing bodies and the people who had employed and supported him during his boxing career abroad. For the most part, they had lost contact with him.

Regarding the memorable fight with Michael Spinks in which he lost in 1982, Wasajja strongly suspects that the food he was given before the fight (in Atlantic City, New Jersey) was contaminated and consequently weakened and incapacitated him. : claimed foul play was involved in his loss of the fight. This was Wasajja’s most memorable and prestigious fight. And who would know? Wasajja wrestled with the two Spinks brothers who became heavyweight world champions! One of the brothers hit Muhammad Ali and the other was hit by Mike Tyson, among other things! Also, in particular, Wasajja fought during an era considered golden for light heavyweights. These included Michael Spinks, Dwight Mohammed Qawi (formerly Dwight Braxton), Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (formerly Eddie Gregory), Marvin Johnson, and Mathew Saad Muhammad (formerly Mathew Franklin, and born Maxwell Antonio Loach).

Wasajja was a notable amateur boxing champion from Uganda and an amateur boxing champion from Africa, but his victories were not as many or as striking as those of his counterparts such as Ayub Kalule and James Odwori. In the professional ranks he rose to remarkable heights, but did not win that coveted world title. Wasajja’s fame is intertwined with being a mysterious Ugandan champion, one who had chances at both the world title and the African pro title, but failed to win. Wasajja, the mysterious Ugandan champion became one of Uganda’s pioneering professional boxers, one of those who had the audacity to challenge some of the best boxers in the world.

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