While a number of different athletes have gone through extremely difficult childhoods and had to overcome some huge adversity, there is perhaps no better example of this than Kassim Ouma.
Most people know Kassim Ouma as a former professional boxer who amassed an impressive 28-8 record and was the IBF Junior Middleweight Champion as well. His quick strikes and heart of a lion made him a favorite among boxing aficionados. But if you think being punched in the face by grown men was the hardest thing Kassim Ouma endured in his life, you’re not even close. In this article I will take you back to his childhood and explain the hardships he went through, and how he overcame them on his way to becoming one of boxing’s best.
Ouma was born into extreme poverty in Uganda on December 12th 1978. His young childhood was filled with struggle, but nothing compared to what happened when he was six years old. When Ouma was six years old, he was kidnapped and taken away from his family and forced to join the National Resistance Army. The National Resistance Army was a rebel army that engaged in a guerilla war (The Ugandan Bush War) against the government. As a result of this kidnapping and forced entry into the army as a child soldier, Ouma wouldn’t see his family for five years. During his time in the army he was exposed to unthinkable things and has even said that he did in fact kill numerous people. These experiences are something that no one should have to go through, especially someone who hasn’t even been alive for a decade.
Once the war ceased, Ouma returned home but wanted a better life for himself and his family. Ouma decided to take up boxing and was extremely talented at it. After working his way to a 62-3 amateur boxing record, Ouma was placed onto the Ugandan national boxing team and was actually slated to compete at the 1996 Olympic Games, but couldn’t do so due to financial reasons. However, on a trip to the USA with the Ugandan national team, a choice he was going to make would change Ouma’s life forever. During the trip, he decided to stay and pursue a boxing career. His career, though up and down at times, was a largely successful one and he competed in numerous high profile fights against some of the best in the world.
Unfortunately, the fact that he left the country and illegally snuck into the USA means that he will be labeled a deserter if he returns home and the punishment for that crime is death. There is a brilliant documentary on Kassim Ouma that is titled “Kassim the Dream” and it was featured at numerous film festivals and touches on the various hardships and triumphs in his life and also touches on how he would love to be able to return to his home country and visit. Ouma’s story is one of overcoming adversity in a major way and he should be an inspiration for everyone.