From The Killing Fields To The Boxing Ring One Man’s Journey
There are few stories that I’ve read about certain athletes that I’ve come across recently that’ve got me actually gut wrenched because of the severity of that athlete’s life. And such was the case with boxing’s newest world champion in the guise of Kassim ‘The Dream’ Ouma. This Ugandan native, was a former child soldier in the land of his birth. And if you’re aware of the war torn strife that has taken place in Central Africa over the last twenty five years. Then you’ll know to an extent as to what I’m speaking of. You might think that ‘The Killing Fields of Cambodia’ may well have seen some of the worst atrocities in recent living memory. But you’d be sadly mistaken in that context.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo(formerly Zaire), the estimates are, that in excess of 5 million (5,000,000) people have died in the last decade alone. And on the continent of Africa alone, in excess of 18,500,000 lives have been lost to war torn strife. From the Western region of Darfur, in the Sudan– northwards, parts of the African continent has essentially become a region of mayhem. And as of today, there’s over 4,500,000 displaced refugees alone in the Sudan. That’s equivalent of just under one third of the population of the state of Florida.
Ouma, who recently became the light middleweight champion of the world, is now looking to cement his legacy in the latest in a long line of celebrated African boxers. Perhaps the best known of them all may well have been Azumah Nelson , a three time world champion in three different weight categories. But if anything, it has been Ouma’s ascendancy up the ranks of boxing and his path there from his youth in the capitol city of Kampala,Uganda, may well be indicative of this young man’s mindset. The horrors that he witnessed and no doubt was a part of as a boy soldier, carries with it the scars that absolutely no one would want to relive. But there are times that the human resolve has to be tested . And when you’re a juvenile being placed in a position of such undeniable horror. And then asked to carry out such atrocities as murder and then later on in his life as an almost adult soldier, rape.Then, there’s not really much that one can really do in such instance. You either had to obey or be killed , yourself. What other choice would be have had ?
Courtesy of USA Today
By Reid Cherner & Tom Weir
Many boxers come from a hardscrabble upbringing.
Few of those biographies include being kidnapped as a 6-year-old and trained to be an assassin.
Before escaping to the United States, and becoming junior middleweight champion of the world, Kassim Ouma was committing atrocities for the Ugandan Army.
1ablog-kassim The award-winning documentary, Kassim The Dream, began showing Wednesday on Sundance Selects, available on Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner.
“While he may not be the best boxer out there I don’t think anyone comes close to having his story,” said director Kief Davidson.
The film, which mixes comedy with tragedy, traces Ouma’s boxing career along with his fight to receive a pardon in Uganda so he could visit his father’s grave.
“He was very much a Jekyll and Hyde like character,” said Davidson, who would eventually accompany the boxer back to Uganda. “By and large he goes through the day, at least on the surface, a pretty happy guy. He’s very social, he interacts with everyone he possible can interact with. Then there is that other side to him that is quite dark because he is suppressing a lot of what happened to him as a child.”
Davidson talked to Game On! about his documentary.
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It has been Ouma’s path back from being a member of the Ugandan army as a child assassin,committing such unwarranted and unspeakable atrocities, to the seemingly the respectability of being a world class boxer in the ring. That his story on the face of it seems all so improbable to begin with. But then so too have been other such stories that I doubt, ones with such ramifications, as that of Kassim Ouma’s. You could think that a story , in origin alone could only have been scripted by a writer in Hollywood ? But there have been other stories such as this that have been part of the world’s stage for decades. Some have been widely reported whilst others have gone unreported.
Ouma’s ascent to the top flight of boxing hasn’t been an easy one and along the way having fought for a number of titles at the light middleweight as well as within the middleweight divisions. He’s not lost any of the enthusiasm for the sport. A sport, that with all of its controlled violence must seem like a complete role reversal to the type of violence that he’d no doubt have participated in as a soldier, in his war torn native homeland. One begs the question in light of this. Ouma’s acts may well have been so horrific and damning, albeit that he was forced into such a situation as a child. But what does it to suggest to us , when governments in the West continue to support the country of Uganda, given the atrocities being perpetrated by the country’s President Yoweri Museveni and his regime ? No exact figure can be approximated as to the number of deaths that’ve taken place there under his regime. But suffice to say, that it has to run into the hundreds of thousands , since his installment as the country’s de-facto democratic President, under the guise of democracy, which in essence has been nothing more than government sanctioned terrorism of its populace. Well , at least to those who seek to oppose Museveni’s rule.
And while Ouma can now celebrate his acclaim, wealth and a certain amount of notoriety. It does leave one asking if he can be now afforded such prosperity and residence at the hands of his now new homeland. What if anything can be done to bring to light what is still happening in his homeland ? Ouma , himself, has shown a great deal of remorse for many of the heinous and barbaric acts that he was forced to do. But on the face of it, can we look at this as some form of justice ? Many of us may have differing views on the subject matter . I for one just wanted to bring it to the readers’ attention. Not every story about an athlete at times, is a pleasant one,filled with feelgood anecdotes and episodes of comedic value. And it certainly hasn’t been the case here,for Kassim Ouma.
What thoughts if any do you have on this particular subject matter ? Your comments will be duly noted and replied to. Thanks in large part for reading and of course for your continued support of my work. As always , it’s greatly appreciated !