James Odwori, born October 23, 1951, is said to have been born in Kenya, where later, as a retired boxer, Odwori became a coach of the Kenyan prison boxing team and later became a coach of the national team. boxing team.
A relatively tall boxer for a light flyweight, the young Odwori established himself as an international boxing phenomenon by winning the gold medal at the 1970 Commonwealth Games (held July 17 to July 24, 1970) in Edinburgh. , Scotland. At the quarterfinal level, Odwori defeated Scotland’s Anthony Kerr by points on July 20, 1970. Odwori went on to the semi-finals where he outpointed England’s Mickey Abrams on July 22, 1970. Finally, Odwori of 20 year old moved in the final fight. Here Odwori defeated Anthony Davies of Wales, winning by points on July 24, 1970.
As a boxer in the Kenyan-Ugandan tournaments, and the Central and East African Championships, Odwori would establish himself as an excellent knockout specialist. In June 1972 the African Boxing Championship was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Odwori won gold in the light flyweight division, in the final defeating Saad of Sudan. Uganda would take home five gold medals (won by Odwori, Peter Odhiambo, Mohamed Muruli, Martin Akuba and Benson Masanda); and two silver medals (won by John Opio and George Mathias Ouma).
Odwori’s biggest challenge would be the 1972 Olympics, where naturally James Odwori would be considered a great medal hope for Uganda. At 5’7 “(170 cm), the young Odwori was quite tall for a light flyweight. Both his height and his long reach were added advantages. On August 28, 1972, in his first preliminary fight, Odwori showed his prowess. by technically knocking out Filipino Vicente Arsenal, two inches shorter, by stoppage in the second round by the referee in the second round. The next of his bouts was on September 2, and Odwori skillfully stopped the Egyptian Said 5 ‘2 ” Ahmed El-Ashry in the second round. However, in the following quarterfinal fight on September 7, Odwori was knocked out by 5’4 “Kim U-Gil of North Korea (who eventually won the silver medal), leaving Odwori out of contention for the medal, allowing Odwori to settle for a respectable fifth place.
Relatively fresh from the Olympics, Odwori would represent Uganda at the 1973 All-Africa Games in Lagos, Nigeria, from January 7-18, again as a lightweight flyweight (48kg). In the preliminaries, Odwori eliminated Senegal’s Babak Fall by knockout in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Odwori knocked out Tanzanian Bakari Salamani in a second round TKO! Then Samuel Eke of Nigeria succumbed to James Odwori by TKO in the third round. And finally, in the gold medal bid, the lanky Odwori got rid of Ghana’s Young Chucks by TKO in the first round. Odwori had established himself as an international force to be reckoned with!
They were busy and productive years for Ugandan boxing! The Commonwealth Games came, held in Christchurch, New Zealand, from January 24 to February 2, 1974. Moving to the quarterfinals, James Odwori deftly eliminated Bakari Selemani of Tanzania in round 2. In the semifinals, on January 31, Odwori beat Singaporean Syed Abdul Kadir. It is significant that by winning the bronze medal, Kadir became the first person from Singapore to win his country a Commonwealth Games medal. To this day, Kadir remains Singapore’s most famous boxer. The following day, in the finals, 23-year-old Odwori would be outscored on points by 17-year-old Stephen (Steve) Muchoki of Kenya (only 5’3 “tall). For the silver medal, a level of medal he was not used to. Therefore, Odwori was unable to defend the Commonwealth Games title that he had won four years earlier. Significantly, Muchoki is by far the most decorated boxer in Kenyan history. Muchoki’s achievements was the additional gold medal won in the light flyweight boxing division, at the next Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada, 1978).
At the World Amateur Boxing Championship held in Havana, Cuba in 1974 (August 17-30), light flyweight Muchoki was defeated in the final by Cuban Jorge Hernández and settled for the silver medal. James Odwori, in flyweight, was in these championships. This was disappointing for Odwori, Odwori’s teammates, and for Uganda as a whole. Odwori became one of two boxers disqualified from competing for exceeding the weight limit! Ironically, Odwori had recently moved up the weight division, from lightweight flyweight where Steve Muchoki remained. Odwori’s disqualification allowed potential opponent Felipe Rojas of Argentina to advance smoothly to the next round. The skilled Muchoki of Kenya would win light flyweight gold in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where the next World Amateur Boxing Championship was held. And this time Muchoki outpointed Jorge Hernández, the same opponent he had faced in the final of the same tournament four years earlier! Muchoki was scheduled to fight in the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal, but Kenya withdrew from the Olympics for political reasons, leaving the first round as a victory for Turkey’s Alican Az. Az was eliminated by Park Chan-Hee of Korea in the second round. Jorge Hernández from Cuba would eliminate Park Chan-Hee in the next round, and he would eventually become the gold medalist! The same Jorge Hernández who would later be Muchoki’s most remembered and international rival! Interestingly, James Odwori is not listed as scheduled to represent Uganda. By 1976, Amin’s regime was losing steam and was coming under intense scrutiny and international antagonism. Government attention to sports had similarly waned, with many of Uganda’s top boxers missing from the squad, had left the country, were preparing to turn professionals, or had become disillusioned due to inadequate training or care. The political and economic situation became unfavorable for the national sport, as in other areas. The Amin regime was overthrown in 1979.
The next African Amateur Boxing Championship was held in November 1974 in Kampala, Uganda; a territory familiar to countless Odwori enthusiasts and other Ugandan competitors. This time Odwori had moved on to the next weight division, flyweight (51 kg). In the final fight, Odwori outpointed Isaac Kuria Maina of Kenya. Once again, Uganda overwhelmingly displayed African dominance, gold medals also won by Ayub Kalule, Vitalis Bbege, Mohamed Muruli and Mustapha Wasajja. Meanwhile, Ugandans Ali Rojo and Jacob Odonga (who was months before in the preliminaries of the World Boxing Championship held in August, knocked out by Leon Spinks, who would win Olympic gold in 1976 in Montreal; two years later, Leon Spinks defeated Mohammed Ali in competing for the world heavyweight crown) settled for silver medals.
Based on his national and international appearances and victories, given his skill and style, James Odwori in the 1970s established an excellent amateur trail that has never been equaled by any other Ugandan boxer. James Odwori stands out significantly as Uganda’s most exciting and decorated amateur boxer, even after decades have passed.