Ugandan women turn to boxing to escape the slum

They live impoverished lives in one of the largest slums in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. Without permanent shelter or jobs, Morine Nakilyowa (23), Lydia Nantale (17), Hellen Baleke (24) and Diana Tulyanabo (20) have started boxing as a way to survive the harsh living conditions in the crime-ridden Katanga slum.

The women have featured prominently in local tournaments in the past few years, representing the Katanga-based Rhino Boxing Club. But they have yet to receive the recognition afforded their male counterparts.

The closest these female boxers have come to career-defining moments was a potential debut at the International Boxing Association’s World Amateur Boxing Championships in China in 2012. The Ugandan government let them down through a lack of funding.

Hellen Baleke in a training session. The women cannot afford to hire a permanent coach so they are trained by part-time male boxers who take a commission from professional fights. (Edward Echwalu, Al Jazeera)

Since then, the boxers have had to contend with the absence of a functioning amateur boxing body and a limited number of credible opponents as they struggle to make their mark. 

To keep active, they seek out boxers from across the border – in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania – and feature on the undercards of locally arranged professional fights. In extreme circumstances they take each other on at catchweights, in which the normal weight categories are put aside. 

Despite the setbacks, the four boxers still harbour big dreams of representing Uganda at major international tournaments. – Al Jazeera

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


‘Tenderpreneurs’ block the delivery of protective equipment to schools

Protests by local suppliers have delayed PPE delivery, which according to the DBE, is one of the reasons the reopening of schools has been pushed back until June 8

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday