Kassim Ouma Going Home

17.04.07 - After nine years of waiting and dreaming, the remarkable life story of Kassim Ouma takes another chapter when he returns home to his native Uganda this Saturday after receiving an official pardon for deserting the Ugandan Army. Oumaís team recently received written assurance from the Ugandan Embassy in Washington, D.C. that he had been pardoned and cleared to visit home..

Ouma was in the army from six-years-old until he was 19 when he entered the United States on an amateur boxing visa in 1998, and quickly found success in the professional game where he built his career with a series of fights on ESPN II, before capturing a world championship in 2005. He recently went up in weight in losing a spirited challenge to undisputed middleweight world champ Jermain Taylor.

"Uganda was always in my heart. That is why I always waved the Ugandan flag proudly when I had big fights," Ouma said. "America has been wonderful for me, allowing me to become champion and make a lot of money. It truly is the land of opportunity. Thatís why I want my kids to grow up here. But Uganda will always be special for me."

Oumaís success in the ring and child-soldier background have brought him international attention, including a feature-length documentary on his life now being completed with major Hollywood backing. After years of lobbying back home and in the United States Congress, Ouma has finally been forgiven for leaving the army without permission.

"I really want to thank the Ugandan Army and the President for letting my pardon go through," Ouma said. "What is in the past should be forgotten. I lost my childhood to the army, but now I have the chance to really do something representing the people of my country as a boxer in America. I want to be the first Ugandan boxer to regain a world championship. Hopefully, Iíll be fighting for the title again real soon."

Ouma plans to meet with military leaders to sign the final paperwork on the pardon, then meet with family members, especially an ailing grandmother who he has missed dearly. He will also look into non-profit charity projects that he has been involved in and hopefully meet some key business leaders.

"Iíll only be there for a short time and I have so many old friends Iíd like to see. My grandmother is tops on the list.," Ouma said. "Iím only going for a short visit before I start training for my next fight, which I hope will be a world title fight this July."

Article posted on 17.04.2007

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