Last week a video emerged of a 15-year-old female boxer from Uganda being caned by her coach as punishment for losing a boxing match. In all my days as a coach and a coach developer, never have I heard of corporal punishment being used as a motivation for young athletes.
I often talk to coaches about the Big Mac attack being the way we improve an athlete’s performance. Imagine a Big Mac where the meat patty is feedback wrapped around a bun which is praise or positive reinforcement. We offer praise (there is always something in a performance that we can praise even if the outcome was not what we were looking for), provide feedback and then end with praise or encouragement.
The response of the Ugandan boxing coach this young female boxer losing her match is not good coaching it is simply ABUSE and has no place in sport full stop.
NTV Uganda reported … “Coach Herbert Kalungi is going through a whirlwind of problems, a week after he caught on camera whipping female boxer, Daphine Namitala after she lost a boxing match. The coach was arrested on Tuesday after a public outcry about how he had mistreated the boxer. Kalungi, who is out on police bond after he was released on Friday, as investigations continue. Now boxing coaches and players say this is not an isolated incident and many players have been flogged after poor performances.”
Sadly, in this case the child boxer has called for her coach to be released which either suggests that such conduct has been normalised or the girl was put under pressure to defend the coach who assaulted her.
The Uganda Boxing Federation has tasked their disciplinary committee to address this abuse. This would normally be done through a federation’s safeguarding policy and physical abuse should be a breach of a coach’s code of conduct. Whether this federation has safeguarding policies or codes of conduct in place is unknown but if not, this is something the Ministry of Sport and Education (Uganda), Uganda Olympic Committee and the International Boxing Federations should be addressing.