On Thursday, June 13, the local boxing fraternity woke up to the sad news of the passing on of Saidi Tebazalwa, one of the sport's greatest servants.
A renowned referee and judge, Tebazalwa succumbed to cancer after a lengthy battle that included going for an expensive operation in India last year. A former amateur pugilist, Tebazalwa has been a father figure, trainer, referee, judge and administrator in the boxing fraternity for entire his life.
During his burial in Masajja, hundreds of mourners who included former world champion Kassim 'The Dream' Ouma and Kampala central division chairman Godfrey Nyakana, paid homage to the 57-year-old local boxing fallen hero. As a light flyweight boxer in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tebazalwa fought his way into the national amateur team (The Bombers)'s ranks but did not register as much success in regard to winning titles.
However, Tebazalwa's ring exploits as a pugilist cannot be underrated. He broke into the national team ranks through the cutthroat competition during the golden generation that included such stars as former world champion Ayub Kalule, Leo Lwabogo (RIP), Mustafah Wasajja and four-time Olympian Charles Lubulwa.
While he didn't soar to the levels of the Kalules, Tebazalwa went to become an accomplished referee and judge at both amateur and professional levels. He officiated in more than five hundred fights and there are vivid memories of him as the third man in the ring.
"He was always a calm person both in the ring and out of it," remarks Lubulwa, who boxed and worked with the late Tebazalwa as a fighter and official for more than two decades.
Tebazalwa's last appearance in the ring was on February 24, 2013 when he officiated in the bout between Pompe Mugwanya and Mustafa Mongolia at Little Flowers (Club Obbligato) arena. As a father and trainer, Tebazalwa groomed his sons Abdul and Sadat to represent the country at major international events such as the Olympics.
Abdul (bantamweight) was key member of The Bombers' squad that represented the country at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. When he switched to the professional career, Abdul captured the African Boxing Union (ABU) super featherweight title in 2005 and 2006. His younger brother, Sadat Tebazalwa, a welterweight, competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In his remarks, Nyakana, who spoke on behalf of boxers at the burial, said that Tebazalwa death is a 'great loss to the sport. "He has been an enthusiastic boxing fan. His support and contribution is immense," Nyakana said, adding that the boxing family will ensure that his legacy lives on.
In administration, Tebazalwa held several executive positions in local boxing (amateur and professional ruling) bodies. Until his death, he was the serving treasurer of the Uganda pro-boxing commission (UPBC). May his soul rest in eternal peace.