John Mugabi

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John Mugabi
Real name John Mugabi
Nickname(s) The Beast
Rated at Light-Middleweight
Height 5'10
Nationality Uganda Ugandan
Born (1960-03-04) March 4, 1960 (age 55)
Kampala, Uganda
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 50
Wins 42
Wins by KO 39
Losses 7
Draws 1
No contests 0
Olympic medal record
Men's Boxing
Silver medal – second place 1980 Moscow Welterweight

John "The Beast" Mugabi (born March 4, 1960) is a Ugandan former boxer and world junior middleweight champion. He was part of an exceptionally talented early 1980s' junior middleweight and middleweight division era that included Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Wilfred Benítez, Davey Moore, and Roberto Durán - a time which many boxing fans rank as one of the most exciting ever in those weight classes.

Mugabi was born in Kampala, Uganda, where he started to box. He won a silver medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Professional career[edit]

Soon afterwards he started as a professional on December 5, 1980 by knocking out Oemer Karadenis in round one in Kampala. Soon after that win, Mugabi moved to London where he became acquainted with boxing promoter Mickey Duff, an expert in boxer marketing who landed Mugabi various fights in England and built his reputation there.

Mugabi won eight fights in Europe and then moved to the United States, setting up residence in Florida. Over time he became a favorite of American TV networks, scoring sensational knockouts of contenders such as Curtis Ramsey, Gary Guiden, former world champion Eddie Gazo, Curtis Parker, Frank The Animal Fletcher, Nino Gonzalez and Earl Hargrove. Because of his ability to fight both at junior middleweight and middleweight, fans began to talk of the possibility of him challenging either world light middleweight champion Hearns or world middleweight champion Hagler. Despite Mugabi being a mandatory contender for some time, a Hearns - Mugabi title match never materialised, as Hearns elected to move to Middleweight to challenge Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

On his way to becoming the number one contender for the middleweight title of each of the three major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, and IBF),[1] Mugabi ran roughshod over the division and finished each of his opponents inside the distance. Considering his streak and Hagler's tough battle with Hearns on April 15, 1985, some felt Mugabi had a shot at doing what eleven men before him could not: wresting Hagler's undisputed world middleweight title from him.

The fight between Hagler and Mugabi was set for November 14 of 1985. Due to injury, however, Hagler postponed the fight for four months.

The fight finally came up on March 10 of 1986, and it was the first fight televised by Showtime. Mugabi landed his share of blows to Hagler's head during the early rounds. The turning point came in the sixth round, when Hagler landed many heavy blows and staggered Mugabi. Mugabi fought back gamely but his early knockout wins left him ill-prepared for a long, tough fight. In the end it was Hagler who came out the victor, with a knockout in the eleventh round. Many boxing fans consider this to have been the toughest contest of Hagler's career. Sugar Ray Leonard's decision to come out of retirement and challenge Hagler for the Middleweight Championship was heavily influenced by Hagler's performance in the Mugabi fight.

After his first loss, Mugabi retired to Uganda and ballooned in weight to 190 lbs. In September 1986 he contacted Mickey Duff, stating that he was ready to fight again. Mugabi went down in weight and was given an opportunity by the WBC to win their world light middleweight title, vacated by Hearns. Once again many fans favored him, this time against Duane Thomas, on December 5 of '86. However, Mugabi suffered a broken eye socket, the consequence of a punch in round three and the fight had to be stopped. Mugabi underwent optical surgery the next day to repair his injury.

Discouraged by two consecutive losses, Mugabi gained weight and did not fight for nearly fourteen months. In January 1988, he came back to fight Bryan Grant on the undercard of Mike Tyson's title defence against Larry Holmes. Mugabi won by quick knockout and set off on another knockout winning streak. He became number one contender for the WBC 154 lb title in August 1988 but could not land a fight with then champion Donald Curry. After Curry lost his title in an upset in early 1989, Mugabi was given another opportunity to become world champion by the WBC. On July 8 of that year, Mugabi finally made his dream come true, knocking out Curry's successor Rene Jacquot in round one in Grenoble to become the WBC light middleweight champion.

After two first round knockout wins against Ricky Stackhouse and Carlos Antunes, Mugabi, who by this time was having difficulty making the weight limit of 154 lbs, put his title on the line against Terry Norris. When Norris downed the champion for the count with a right to the jaw, Mugabi received the dubious distinction as the second fighter, after Al Singer, to both win and lose a world title by first round knockout when he was defeated by Norris.

Showing resilience, Mugabi resurfaced with two more wins and once again found himself fighting for a world title, facing Gerald McClellan on November 20, 1991 in London for the vacant WBO middleweight championship. Mugabi looked a shadow of his former self by this time, and once again came out on the losing end, again by a first round knockout.

Mugabi then retired for 5 years and moved to Australia where he still resides and trains fighters. In 1996, he came back for the first of an eight fight comeback, but, apart from beating Jamie Wallace by a 12 round decision at the Gold Coast for the Australian Middleweight title, the comeback was undistinguished. After losing to Glenn Kelly by a knockout in eight on January 16 of 1999, Mugabi finally retired with a record of 42 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw, 39 wins by knockout.

His 26 fight knockout win streak stands as one of the longest knockout streaks ever in boxing.

In a comment posted on "The Sweet Science" blog in regard to the Antonio Tarver-Roy Jones Jr match in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mugabi wrote, "It's great to see that Tampa is still having boxing. I, John, am still sorry for letting my fans down that night. But all champions one day will get beaten. But one day I would love to come and watch some fights in the ring at Tampa. I might bring one of the fighters I train in Australia now."

Preceded by
Rene Jacquot
WBC Light Middleweight Champion
8 July 1989– 31 March 1990
Succeeded by
Terry Norris

Mugabi has a 20-year-old daughter, Mildred Prudence Mugabi who lives in Tampa, Florida and he has another daughter who still resides in Kampala, Uganda named Mourine Kabasemera Mugabi.

Amateur career[edit]

Representing Uganda, Mugabi was the Silver medalist at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, boxing in the Welterweight (67 kg) class. Mugabi lost to Andrés Aldama of Cuba in the final. . His results were:

He was also a silver medallist at the 1976 Junior World Championships, losing to Herol Graham.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]