6 January 2013

Uganda: Kamyuka Sets Sight On Heavyweight Division

Once inside the dilapidated Mengo Social centre gym, it's hard to miss Ben Kamyuka's towering burly frame.

The heavyweight giant, at six feet two inches, dwarfs everyone in training. Kamyuka, who weighs 120kgs puts in between three and four hours of work-out every weekday at the gym.

"He is always the first to arrive and the last to leave," says Mike Kizza, who has coached and managed Kamyuka through his amateur to professional career.

Based on his work ethic, Kizza strongly believes that Kamyuka is primed to become the dominant fighter in the heavyweight division

"There's no doubt that he'll soon be the man to beat in his weight category," Kizza states.

Kizza, who has handled top fighters including current WBC-I light heavyweight champion Joseph 'Joey Vegas' Lubega, remarks that Kamyuka is not an overly skilled fighter but his commitment elevates him above all heavyweights in the country.

"At the moment nobody seems to understand better than Ben that hard work pays. He's serious in training and really working hard to raise his game," Kizza explains

Uganda's current generation of professional heavyweights includes Kenneth Odeke, Charles Muwanga, Hudson Muhumuza and Kamyuka. Apart from Odeke, a much younger fighter in his early 20s, Muwanga, Muhumuza and Kamyuka regularly fought each other during their reign as national amateur team boxers between 2005 and 2008.

In fact, Muwanga twice denied Kamyuka the chance to represent Uganda at international level by defeating him at national team (The Bombers) trials. And during the 2007 national trials, Kamyuka famously knocked out Muhumuza at Lugogo Indoor Stadium (MTN arena)

But as Kizza notes, ever since the trio switched to professional ranks, Kamyuka has become a better fighter, thanks in part to his hard work and commitment.

A southpaw, Kamyuka's other attributes include good reach and heavy punches that make it easier for him to take out opponents.

"I want to become the first Ugandan heavyweight to rule the world," says Kamyuka, who boosts of over 50 amateur bouts.

"I know it's not an easy task but I believe in myself and if the chance comes, I'll take it gracefully."

Former Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) champion Peter Okello is the best remembered Ugandan heavyweight to have made a mark on the international scene. Apart from holding the OPBF title for several years, Okello challenged and lost the WBC title to Russian Oleg Maskaev 'The Big O' in December, 2006.

Since then, no Ugandan boxer has made as much breakthrough in this weight category. It's worth noting that all Uganda's boxing legends; Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Ayub Kalule, John 'Beast' Mugabi, Kassim Ouma, Justin 'The Destroyer' Juuko, Jackson 'Action' Asiku and recently Joseph 'Fabulous Joey Vegas' Lubega, have succeeded in middle, feather and light heavyweight classes.

Kamyuka's dream is to break into the country's exclusive club as the first heavyweight world champion. Understandably, heavyweight boxing is a category where shocks abound. Historic upsets such as Hasim Rahman's knockout of Lennox Lewis in 2001 gives inspiration to the likes of Kamyuka.

But he has a lot of work to do if he is to achieve that feat.

Next fight:

Following his successful professional debut last October when he stopped Fred Bbosa in the first round of a scheduled six-rounder, Kamyuka is set to return on the FistKnights Boxing Promotions (FBP) series card due January 19, 2013 at C&C Outdoor Arena in Kibuye.

Kamyuka's next opponent is Joseph Ssentongo in one of the undercard bouts.

Ssentongo is coming off a draw with Hudson Muhumuza last October. Having made his professional debut then, there's not much to write home about Ssentongo but event organizers say he comes as a very good test to Kamyuka. Earlier, Kamyuka had been matched up against Muhumuza, who withdrew from the fight two weeks ago.

Although his promoters say there was a deadlock over purse offer, Kamyuka insists Muhumuza "simply chickened out because he fears since I stopped him in our amateur days."

In a bid to ensure that his fighter makes steady progress, Kizza has already laid down a one-year schedule for Kamyuka this year. The schedule has Kamyuka returning to the ring in May/June against TBA (a yet-to-be announced) opponent and could wind up the year with a mega rematch against Muwanga in either October or December.

Family man:

Aside from pursuing his boxing career, Kamyuka is a business and family man. After training, Kamyuka spends five hours every weekday at his small hardware shop, which he runs with two business partners in town.

And on weekends, the 28-year-old boxer takes time off to share private moments with his wife and daughter.

National middleweight title hotshot, Mustafa Katende, who shares the same den with Kamyuka, describes him as a "humble and friendly person."

On the January 19 card, Katende and Kamyuka will share the ring as the pre-event star attractions. Katende will headline the event when he takes on Med Bukenya for the national (UPBC) middleweight title in a ten-round scheduled bout.

In the run-up to their forthcoming fights, both Katende and Kamyuka have the privilege of drawing inspiration from former world champion Ayub Kalule, who regularly pass by Mengo Social Centre to give them tips.

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