Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Judith Ayaa: Outstanding Progress in the Breaking of the 400-Meters East Africa and Africa Record

March 10, 2015

Judith Ayaa was the dominant female sprinter at the East and Central African Athletic Championships from 1968 to 1972. During the same span of time, she was not only the 4-time 400m champion, but she also often competed in and won in the 100m and 200m. She won the gold in the 100 meters in 1968 in Dar-es-Salaam. In the middle of August 1969, in the same ECA championships this time in Kampala, she was victorious in the 100 and 200 meters and was part of Uganda gold-medal winning 4x100m relay team. Her victory in the 400m was a new Africa record–53.6. By virtue of this personal best time in 1969, Ayaa was in 1969 ranked amongst the world’s top 10 female 400-meters sprinters.

Because there were a relatively low number of women competing in the 400m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, only a semi-final and a final would hereby take place. Ayaa was on July 22nd 1970 lined up in the second of the two heats of the semi-final . She won in quite an astonishing time–52.86–a new Africa record. The time ranked her as eleventh best in the world in 1970.

The final would take place on the next day. But having been the fastest among the semi-finalists, Ayaa had perhaps ran too fast. She perhaps ought to have ran in relaxed stride, just fast enough to be among the top four of either of the semi-final heats that would ensure their qualifying for the finals. In this first semi-final heat, Sandra Brown of Australia finished second in a full second behind Ayaa. The first semi-final heat in which Marilyn Fay Neufville of Jamaica won in 53.05, was apparently one of more tactfulness and relaxation.

In the final, diminutive 17 year-old Neufville won in a world record–51.02. Neufville won by an astonishing over two seconds ahead of silver medallist Sandra Brown of Australia who finished in 53.66. Neufville thereby shaved of by nearly a second the previous world record of 51.7 set in 1969 by Frenchwomen Colette Besson and Nicole Duclos. Judith Ayaa, overtaken after slowing down near the end of the race, likely due to fatigue after her unnecessary exertion in the semi-finals, was third (53.77) in a photo-finish behind Sandra Brown and captured the bronze medal. The fatigue had likely cost her at least the silver medal; but the Commonwealth bronze would be one of Ayaa’s most cherished international possessions!

In 1970 at the East-Central African Championships held in Nairobi, Ayaa won in the 100-meters in 11.8, the 200-meters in 24.1, and the 400-meters in 54.0.

Ayaa was a competitor at the USA-Pan African Track-and-Field Meet held from July 16-17, 1971 at Duke University in Durham. She won the gold medal after finishing in 54.69.

Still in 1971, at the ECA Championships in Lusaka, Ayaa won in the 400-meters (54.7); and she was part of the Uganda gold medal victorious teams in both sprint relays.

Ayaa competed in Dante Stadium at a Pre-Olympic Meet in mid-August 1972 in Munich, a build-up for the forthcoming Olympics in the same city of West Germany. Also called the “Hanns-Braun Memorial International Pre-Olympic Invitational,” this track-and-field meet spanned two days.

20 year-old Ayaa, participated amongst the 3 heats of the women’s 400 meters. The top overall finishers would be signified. Altogether Ayaa’s time was second best–52.68–a new Africa record. In early September 1972, in Munich at the Olympics, Ayaa was again timed in 52.68 seconds when she finished third in the quarter finals and advanced to the semi-finals. She thereby equaled her personal best and Africa record. Ayaa would be eliminated¬† from advancing to the Olympic finals when she finished 7th (52.91) in a semi-final heat.

At the pre-Olympic meet in Munich, on the second day of the meet, Ayaa additionally competed in the 200-meters and finished fifth. Results were (AP 1972: 66):

1. Marina Sidorova (Soviet Union), 23.78; 2. Karollne Kaefer (Austria), 23.99; 3. Vilma Charlton (Jamaica), 24.04; 4. Una Morris (Jamaica), 24.11; 5. Judith Ayaa (Uganda), 24.12.

Judith Ayaa would fade away from the international competition limelight after 1973. The President Idi Amin Dada handed her the Uganda flag in her capacity as team captain for the national team that was bound for Lagos for the All-Africa Games in January 1973. She was expected to win in the 400m. But possibly due to injuries, sickness, or inadequate training, she did not compete in any of the individual sprints in Lagos. But she possibly competed in the women’s 4x400m relay in which Uganda won gold.

Much more had been expected of this young elite African athlete, one of the few African women to reach such a pinnacle during that time of the dawn of women power athletes. It would take three decades for Ayaa’s Uganda national record in the 400m to be broken. After more than four decades, the present Uganda record (52.48) by Justine Bayigga, established in 2008, is only 0.2 seconds lower than the national and African record that Judith Ayaa set in 1972.

Works Cited

AP (August 17, 1972). “Second Day of the Sports Festival,” in “San Bernardino County Sun,”¬† page 66.

Jonathan Musere


The 1970 Uganda vs. Soviet Union Boxing Dual in Kampala

July 20, 2011

On December 12th 1970, an international dual boxing match between the Soviet Union and Uganda, was held in Kampala. Uganda had become an established boxing powerhouse by notably emerging as the leading Commonwealth of Nations’ boxing nation. The Commonwealth Games had been held in July. Uganda’s boxing gold medal wins were courtesy of James Odwori, Mohamed Muruli, and Benson Masanda and the others were silver medals won by Deogratias Musoke and 1968 Olympic bronze medallist Leo Rwabwogo.

The population of the Soviet Union in 1970 was approximately 240 million and Soviet amateur boxers were rated as among the best in the world. The dual boxing match-up was intriguing given Uganda’s recent boxing victory at the Commonwealth Games; and the growing tradition of boxing in the two nations. The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics was a superpower, while third world country Uganda had a scanty population of approximately 10 million.

The first bout was that of light-flyweight James Odwori who had recently won the Commonwealth Games’ title, against Russian Anatoli Semenov. Odwori is rated as one of the most skillful and most exciting of Uganda’s boxers. He won many medals and would represent Uganda at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where he was placed 5th. This time at the Kampala tournament, Semenov was awarded the victory by points. Semenov had represented the Soviet Union at the European Amateur Boxing Championships held in Bucharest in 1969, but had been beaten by points by Roman Rozek of Poland.

Uganda’s flyweight contender Leo Rwabwogo had won a Commonwealth Games silver medal in July, and he had won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games of 1968 in Mexico City. He would also win a silver medal at the forthcoming Olympics in Munich. His haul of prestigious international medals is impressive, and he was one of the best of Uganda’s boxers during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. At this tournament in Kampala, sturdy and strong Rwabwogo disposed of P. Ershov of the Soviet Union by a knockout in the first round. Ershov had participated in an International friendly, the Leningrad Tournament , in November 1969. He was beaten by points, by fellow Soviet Yuriy Fedorov, in the quarter-finals’ round.

Uganda’s bantamweight Eridadi Mukwanga became Uganda’s first Olympic silver medallist during the venue Mexico City in 1968. Unfortunately, Mukwanga was beaten by points in the very first preliminary round at the recent Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. This time in Kampala, Mukwanga was again disappointing. He lost to Nikolay Novikov of the Soviet Union, by points. Novikov was placed 5th at the Olympics in Mexico City as a flyweight. Other merits include a silver medal at the European Boxing Championships in 1969, and the Merited Master of Sports of the USSR award.

Soviet featherweight Valerian Sergeyevich Sokolov was set to challenge Uganda’s Deogratias Musoke. Interestingly it is Sokolov who, as a bantamweight, had won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics by knocking out previously mentioned Eridadi Mukwanga in the second round. In this Kampala tournament, Sokolov again established himself as a knockout artist by stopping Musoke in the first round. At the Commonwealth Games in July, Musoke had settled for the featherweight silver medal after being outpointed in the final by Kenyan boxing legend Philip Waruinge. At the summer Olympics in 1972, Waruinge would be awarded the silver and the gold to Boris Kuznetsov of the Soviet Union by points. Waruinge felt that he had been robbed. In the same Olympic featherweight bouts, Deogratias Musoke was disappointedly placed 17th after becoming defeated in the second round. The featherweight boxing competitors numbered forty-five. As for Valerian Sokolov, he is credited for winning 196 boxing fights out of the 216 amateur bouts in which he contested. In 1968 Sokolov was bestowed on the Honored Master of Sports of the USSR and the Order of the Badge of Honor in 1969. Fighting as a featherweight, Sokolov was placed 5th at the European Boxing Championships in June 1971.

Boris Georgievich Kuznetsov, who would in 1972 win the featherweight Olympic gold, was here in Kampala scheduled to fight Ugandan Peter Odhiambo. This would be a lightweight bout. Odhiambo impressively outpointed Kuznetsov, avenging Uganda’s previous two losses. Odhiambo would move on to win the lightweight gold medal at the African Amateur Boxing Championships of June 1972, in Nairobi. Boris Kuznetsov is regarded as one of the best and famous Soviet fighters. In February 1972, in a friendly with the USA, Kuznetsov won in his bout by stopping Robert Vascocu in the second round. In 1974, at the inaugural World Amateur Boxing Championships in Havana, Kuznetsov won a silver medal. Kuznetsov was awarded both the Honored Master of Sports of the USSR and the Order of the Badge of Honor in 1972.

Mohamed Muruli of Uganda won the light-welterweight gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in June. In this Kampala tournament, in the same weight class, he would be pitted against Alexander Zaytsev of the Soviet Union. In the second round Muruli was disqualified. Nevertheless, Muruli remains one of Uganda’s most renowned amateur boxers. In 1974 in Christchurch, Muruli won Uganda another gold medal. His record as the only Ugandan to have ever win more than one Commonwealth Games’ boxing gold medal, remains intact.

Tall 22 year-old welterweight Andrew Kajjo had represented Uganda at the Olympic Games of 1968 and the recent Commonwealth Games, but did not win any medals in either games. This time in Kampala, Kajjo ably technically knocked out Soviet welterweight Alexander Ovechkin in the second round. Uganda’s hopes of becoming the overall winner, were raised.

In the light-middleweight bout, Uganda’s Abdalla beat the Soviet Vladmir Yakshilov, by points–making it the first time in the tournament that Uganda registered two consecutive wins. Vladmir Yakshilov represented the Soviet Union at the Leningrad Tournament in November 1969. At this international invitational, Yakshilov was eliminated in the semi-finals. In December 1969 in Kiev, Yakshilov participated in the Soviet Team Championships. He won in the Russia vs. Belarus dual and. the Russia vs. Kazakhstan dual. He lost in the Russia vs. Ukraine bouts.

Matthias Ouma was among Uganda’s prominent fighters during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1965 he won a silver medal at the 1965 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, a bronze medal at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston, a gold medal win at the 1968 Africa Boxing Championships in Lusaka, and later a silver medal at the 1972 All-Africa Boxing Championships held in Nairobi, a silver at the 1973 All-Africa Games in Lagos. Ouma represented Uganda at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, but did not here win any medals. In this 1970 tournament in Kampala, Ouma as a light-heavyweight, was beaten by a points margin by Yuri Nesterov. Nevertheless, Ouma is still ranked high as one of the best of Uganda’s middle- and light-heavyweight boxers. Yuri Nesterov was a dreaded Soviet boxer, and is perhaps most remembered for being beaten by American Duane Bobick during the dual of February 1972, and beaten by the same Bobick in the boxing preliminaries in September 1972 in Munich. In another dual in January 1973, heavyweight Nesterov was knocked out American Nick Wells.

Ugandan heavyweight Benson Masanda, had easily won the Commonwealth boxing crown amidst a limited number of heavyweight boxers at the Games. This time in December in Kampala, Soviet Vladimir Chernyshev out-powered Masanda, technically knocking him out in the second round. Masanda still maintains his record as having been one of the most prominent of Ugandan boxing heavyweights. Others of his accolades include a gold medal at the 1972 Africa Boxing Championships held in Nairobi, and a bronze medal at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. In June 1971 in Madrid, Chernyshev won the heavyweight title at the European Amateur Championships. Chernyshev represented the Soviet Union in a dual with USA in February 1972, and was knocked out by Duane Bobick.

Boxers of the former USSR are still considered among the best in the world. In Kampala, the best of Soviet amateur boxers were pitted against Uganda’s best boxers. The result was 6-4 in favor of the Soviet Union. Against such a gigantic superpower and prominent boxing nation, Uganda’s Third World boxers had proved that they were indeed a formidable force in international amateur boxing.

Jonathan Musere

“Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives” by Martin N. Marger–Book Review

May 11, 2011

This book is mostly geared to the college sociology student and the instructor, and starts with chapters on sociological theories on race and ethnicity. Marger thereafter goes on to treat major factors and histories of the major racial groups in the United states (White Ethnic Americans, native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Jewish Americans).

Marger comes across as a dedicated and enthusiastic scholar, he balances the prejudices, misconceptions, projections of the races with their histories in the United States. Whites have differential histories, as Irish, Germans, Russians, British, etc. He breaks down their entrance into the United states, the prejudices they have faced, their incomes and power relative to other whites and to other races, how they view themselves. Marger is strong on portraying that the United States has largely been dominated by WASP’s (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) though the dynamic has largely changed over the past few decades with the overwhelming influxes of immigrants and access to power.

It is amazing how Marger refers to countless hundreds of sources! The bibliography is very extensive. In the third part of the book, Marger examines race, ethnicity, socio-historically by examining the significant examples of South Africa (apartheid and majority rule, etc.), then Brazil, then Canada (notably the Quebec-French issue). The very last chapter (16) gets into salient examples of conflict and change–the notable Rwandan genocide, resurgencies of nationalism, breaking up of Yugoslavia, the Iraq conflict, and the issue of Northern Ireland. The magnitude of information packed in this 600-page book is unimaginable. The world is presented as one of stereotypes, of discrimination, of assimilation; race and ethnic relationships are fluid and change everyday.

How Arab-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, etc., are portrayed and treated is all dealt with in this book. Marger walks you through easily readable details of the socio-histories, establishments, encounters, challenges, and privileges of the social groups in the United States and other notable regions of the world. This book is bound to be an enduring one, and should be upheld not only by the academic student and instructor, but by anyone who wants to walk through comprehensive theories and sociohistories of peoples all over the world from the past to the present.

The reader attains a commendable grasp of what is happening in the world right now, as related to what had happened in the past! Once you start reading this book, your eyes will become opened to aspects you had never thought about, and that you had only heard of, naively. This is an exciting volume on global perspectives and reality, one that is hard to put down after you start reading it. This is bound to be an enduring text, and Marger likely revises it every couple of years so as for it to be in tune with what is happening today…though he does not deprive us of what happened in the past! The book is worth every penny!

Jonathan Musere