PASCAL SIBOMANA: Aspiring for greater heights

Pascal Sibomana burst on to the boxing scene in spectacular fashion, capturing the limelight with his remarkable hand speed and ferocious punching power. He is also a flamboyant chap, some would say arrogant.

Name: Pascal Sibomana
Born: 20/11/83
Division: Bantam Category
Height: 1.75m
Weight: 54Kgs
Trainer: Jean Claude Gatorano
Club: No Limit Boxing club

Pascal Sibomana burst on to the boxing scene in spectacular fashion, capturing the limelight with his remarkable hand speed and ferocious punching power. He is also a flamboyant chap, some would say arrogant.

A national champion at Bantam weight, Sibomana is known for his flashy and arrogant style, colourful ring entrances and unorthodox southpaw style.

Known throughout the first half of his career for his abilities to land extremely powerful punches, to dodge opponents punches - and, conversely, in the latter half of his career, for his tendency to be caught by some very obvious ones too.

One account claims that the national team trainer, Gashugi Kananura, initially saw a pre-teen Sibomana through the lattice mesh of a schoolyard fence at St. Family primary school, fending off a gang of older boys who all seemed unable to land a blow on the fast-moving young boy.

He began boxing at the age of 15 when he had just finished his primary education level at St Family primary school.

At the age of 16 he was one of the top young amateur boxers in the city. Sibomana’s elusive, hands-down style was developed at Muhima boxing club, where he started developing his talent.

Sibomana changed his training base from Muhima to Remera club after being influenced by the national boxing team trainer, Gashugi.

In the same year, Sibomana raised his take in local boxing circles at feather weight (48kgs). He soon began rising throughout the ranks as he knocked out a series of opponents in the early rounds.

Aged 17, he was called for his national team debut to start making preparations for the 2000 Zone five qualifiers which were held in Egypt, a championship which would also grant Rwanda an Olympic Games qualification spot.

A year earlier, he had knocked out Peter Waigaba of Kampala City Council boxing club of Uganda during the regional Inter-cities championship. This championship was being used to select boxers who would represent their countries in the zonal championship in Cairo.

In Cairo, he lost to a Tunisian opponent in the preliminary round where Rwanda’s chances were lifted by Michel Gashumba who punched his way to the quarter finals hence missing out on an Olympic Games spot.

As Sibomana’s popularity grew, his unorthodox style winning a large fan base, and his arrogance was generating a large group of detractors.

The song Here Comes the Hot stepper has since become his trademark with his ring entrances.
After the Zonal games in Cairo, Sibomana participated in an international tournament which was held in Gabon where he won a silver medal at feather weight category.
One year later, he won bronze at the Third Kings’ Cup tournament which was held in Nairobi, Kenya and in 2003, was also selected on the national team to take part in the zone four championships which were held in Kigali.

After the Kigali event both Sibomana and Gashumba landed an expense-paid sponsorship for a three-moth training mission in Tunisia.

This training mission was meant to prepare the national boxers to prepare for the 2004 Olympics qualifiers on the African level which hosted in Morocco.

In addition, many of the speed and stamina-related hallmarks of his career, i.e. the prevalence of combination punching, ability to dodge opponent’s punches etcetera seem to have degraded somewhat and debate still rages on as to whether this is the result of increase in age, or of increasing quality of opponent, or both.

Both Sibomana and Gashumba were eliminated in the preliminary stages in the African championships which were held in Morocco. The former lost to a boxer from Equatorial Guinea but attributed the loss to unfair judging. “At that time there was poor judging and refereeing,” Sibomana said.

Rwanda’s chances of heading to Athens that year came to an end after both national boxers failed to clinch the final stages of the championship.

Since 2003, Sibomana missed several regional and African championships. It is reported that Sibomana was always under heavy punishments/sanctions from the local boxing governing body due to indiscipline cases cited on him in many previous national boxing tournaments as well as his personal attitude towards the local administrators.

Some of the high profiled championships he missed include; the 2006 African Championship which was held in Mauritius as well as Anoca Games which were held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Right now, the 24-year old is training harder to win a qualification for his country for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Sibomana employs a unique style which flummoxes opponents and this contributes to his tremendous popularity.

Sibomana clinches infrequently, primarily because he is not usually sufficiently fatigued to warrant such tactics. When in clinches he often throws jabs to opponents' heads.
He’s also known to clown around in the ring. When hit cleanly he would smile at opponents, make faces, shake his head, and shrug his shoulders to indicate that he is unhurt.

Sometimes, he dances way into the ring and usually enters by doing a flip over the ropes. His local opponents don’t generally respond to his taunts and horseplay.

Unfortunately, Sibomana was never the same without his first coach and mentor Gashugi. His unique style was understood by the Gashugi, who helped hone it, and Gatorano and others who trained his for his later bouts tried to introduce combination punching and other methods he was unused to.

In the eyes of hardened supporters and some observers in his style of fighting, Sibomana has earned a reputation of invulnerability.

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