Q&A with Nashua boxer Jesse Batanda
Can you just imagine if he ever makes it, this Batanda from Uganda, who got into the fight game because of Evander?
The promotion opportunities could be limitless. Of course, that is light years away, but for now, Nashua’s Jesse Batanda is off to a flying start.
The 23-year-old, a native of the African nation of Uganda, won the New England Golden Gloves 178-pound open championship in Lowell on Thursday night, moving to 11-0 in his brief amateur career.
“I want to be one of the richest men in the world, that’s always been my goal,” said Batanda, who fights for coach Muhammad Brooks out of the Nashua PAL Boxing Club.
Don’t even think about doubting Batanda, considering the route
Back in February, he was fighting in the “novice” division at the Lowell (Central New England) Gloves. He was so good they pushed Batanda into the open competition for the New Englands.
And the rest, as they say …
Batanda took a post-championship break to talk about boxing, his favorite fighters and living out this dream in the United States.
So, the New England finals, you must have been a tremendous underdog, coming out of the novice ranks. How did you get it done?
“Everyone was counting me out in the finals because he was an open fighter. I was going to surprise him. We banged all night. I came out big. He was a tough dude, but I dropped him in the last three seconds of the third (final) round and got the
How does that feel? New England champ and heading to Nationals later this year?
“It’s great, I’m really excited, and a little nervous about Nationals. This was only my second time at the Golden Gloves. Last year, I won the novice Central New England and New England titles. But this year in the open, it was great.”
All right, so let’s get back to the beginning here. How did you get here?
“I am from Uganda. I came to the United States seven years ago. First I lived in Revere, Mass., and then Burlington and now Nashua.”
How and why did you come to this country?
“My mom was already here She was getting a better life and decided to bring us here, too. American is way different. Everything is right here for you. Life is hard in Africa no matter what. If you work here you can have everything you want. That’s why I will forever be grateful to my mother for bringing me here. I owe her everything. She’s worked so hard. I want to do everything I can to make her life easier.”
And that’s why you’ve chosen boxing?
“I started with MMA, but it wasn’t a very respectful sport. And then I tried out boxing. When you get in the ring, that feeling of getting hit, hitting someone right away. It’s incredible. You feel like you’re fighting for your life every night. It’s a feeling I don’t know how to describe. I want to be known as the best boxer in the world with the best jab in the business.”
What drew you to the sport, though?
“It started with (former heavyweight champ) Evander Hofyfield. He made me fall in love with boxing. He was 6-2 and fought at 178 pounds like me. That made me want to make history to be the greatest Ugandan fighter ever to come to America.”
Whoa, Jesse. Those of us who have followed the fight game for years would mention the name, John “The Beast” Mugabi, the greatest Ugandan fighter ever. That’s pretty elite company, right?
“I never met him, but my mom was friends with his promoter and she tells me stories. My coach tells me Mugabi was a bad dude.”
So when is this going to take place? When are you thinking about turning pro?
“I want to go pro within 2-3 years, and that’s my dream. That’s why I’m doing my best now to get as much experience as I can. We’ve talked about it. My coach wants me to go to nationals, win more titles and get as much experience as I can.”
It feels like the Nashua PAL Boxing Club is rolling now. You’re flying high. And Mike Fontanez is nationally ranked. What is so special about the club?
“They have a great program. It’s a close gym. I met my Mike, and we became friends and training partners right away. And we’re thinking that together we are going to take over.”
All right, Jesse. You’ve been great. Now finally, can you just talk about your style in the ring, and why you can make it big?
“I love everything about it and work with all of it. I can box, if I need to fight I’ll fight. If I need to do whatever, I will do it. Whatever it takes.”