John Akii-Bua c. 1972
|Born||3 December 1949
|Died||20 June 1997 (aged 47)
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||77 kg (170 lb)|
|Event(s)||400 m, 400 m hurdles|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||400 m – 45.82 (1976)
400 mH – 47.82 (1972)
Akii-Bua was raised in a family of 43 children from one father and his eight wives. Akii-Bua started his athletic career as a short-distance hurdler, but failed to qualify for the 1968 Olympics. Coached by British-born athletics coach Malcolm Arnold, he was introduced to the 400 m hurdles. After finishing 4th in the 1970 Commonwealth Games and running the fastest season time in 1971, he was not a big favourite for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, having limited competition experience. Nevertheless he won the final there, setting a world record time of 47.82 seconds despite running on the inside lane. He missed the 1976 Olympics and a show down with American rival Edwin Moses due to a boycott by African nations including Uganda.
As a police officer, Akii-Bua was promoted by Ugandan president Idi Amin, and given a house, as a reward for his athletic prowess. When the Amin regime was collapsing, he fled to Kenya with his family, fearful that he would be seen as a collaborator; this was more likely because he was a member of the Langi tribe, many of whom were persecuted by Amin, whereas Akii-Bua was cited by Amin as an example of a Langi who was doing well. However, in Kenya he was put into a refugee camp. From there, he was freed by his shoe-manufacturer Puma and lived in Germany working for Puma for 3–4 years. He represented Uganda once again at the 1980 Summer Olympics. Later he returned to Uganda and became a coach.
Akii-Bua died a widower, at the age of 47, survived by 11 of his children. He was given a state funeral. His nephew is international footballer David Obua, and his brother Lawrence Ogwang competed in the long jump and triple jump at the 1956 Olympics.
The phrase "akii-buas" has come to colloquially mean "runs" in Uganda.
- "Personalities at Olympics: Akii-Bua the Best in Vest". The New York Times. 4 Sep 1972. pp. 10 Section: Sports.
He in one of a family of 43 children. His father had eight wives.
- John Akii-Bua. sports-reference.com
- IAAF, 5 June 2008: Inzikuru to return to action in Akii Bua CAA Grand Prix
- "John Akii-Bua, 47 Is Dead; Ugandan Won Olympic Gold". The New York Times. 25 June 1997. p. D20.
Amin was purging the Lango tribe, and Akii-Bua was Lango
- The John Akii-Bua Story: an African Tragedy, documentary by Dan Gordon, BBC2, 10 August 2008
- Tim Crothers (October 9, 2012). The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. Scribner. ISBN 9781451657814.
|Men's 400 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
1972 – 1973