Daphine Namitala, a 15-year-old boxer, was seen in a viral video receiving caning after losing a boxing match at the Uganda Boxing Champions League held at Lugogo Indoor Arena on Saturday night.
The girl’s mother, concerned about her daughter’s coach, has requested the police not to arrest him. The coach, Mr. Herbert Kalungi, leads the Sparks Boxing Academy and was arrested by the police due to the public outrage and condemnation from sports officials after the video surfaced.
Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire mentioned that both the victim and her mother provided statements to the police. However, they pleaded with the detectives not to escalate the case or detain the suspect. They expressed concerns that it could negatively impact the girl’s education and sports career.
I have seen this video trending on social media, I have instructed our teams in @BoxingUganda to establish the facts to this unfortunate incident and we shall work with @PoliceUg to get to the bottom of it! @OgwangOgwang pic.twitter.com/p6nNac2fgs
— Moses Muhangi (@muhangimo) September 25, 2023
The mother emphasized that the coach takes good care of her daughter and supports her education. She fears that her daughter’s education might be jeopardized if the coach is arrested. Mr. Owoyesigyire clarified that since the case involves a minor, the prosecutors will decide its fate.
State Minister for Sports Peter Ogwang expressed his concern over the incident, calling it disturbing. He urged for a thorough investigation and emphasized that corporal punishment is illegal and punishable by law. He also mentioned that boxing in schools remains illegal until proper regulations are established by the government.
Moses Muhangi, the president of the Boxing Federation, instructed his team to investigate the incident and collaborate with the police to prevent such incidents in the future.
The police have initiated a general inquiry and will determine the charges against the coach pending the results of a medical examination on the girl.
Before his arrest, Mr. Kalungi defended his actions, stating that he caned Namitala as punishment for her indiscipline, which he believes led to her declining performance in boxing. Namitala, a Senior Three student, had lost three consecutive fights to lower-ranked opponents.
Namitala’s stepfather, who was the family’s primary breadwinner, passed away in 2021, leading her mother to seek assistance from Mr. Kalungi. He agreed to take care of Namitala, securing her education and boxing needs.
However, Namitala’s behavior changed over time, as she began skipping training and only showed up on fight days, affecting her performance. Her sponsors, concerned about her conduct, threatened to withdraw their support. Despite warnings from her coach about the consequences for her sports career and education, Namitala did not improve her behavior.
On the day of the incident, Namitala allegedly arrived unprepared for the fight, and her coach warned her not to participate. She insisted on fighting, leading to a bet with her coaching team that she would receive five strokes of the cane if she lost. Both Namitala and Mr. Kalungi confirmed the bet in their statements.
After losing the match, the coaching team confronted Namitala in the dressing room, where she was ordered to lie down for the caning. When she resisted, some team members forcibly restrained her, and the coach administered the caning.
Mr. Gideon Kabanda, the head of the Uganda Boxing Federation disciplinary committee, reported that the victim acknowledged her poor performance and expressed regret for disappointing her coach.
The police will continue their investigation, taking into account the statements from all parties involved.