Sunday, March 26, 2023

OMAR JATTA: the tale of a Gambian boxer turning heads in Austria


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By Sulayman Bah EXCLUSIVE: The mention of Badou Jack and Patrick Mendy would be theOMAR JATTA  Boxer almost immediate supplied answer to question over the Gambia’s current best known actors in the ring. One would be forgiven to think he’s a rising starlet just beginning to make name for himself despite an illustrious career spanning as far back twelve years ago.Based in Austria’s primary state Vienna with a bulging 1.794m population, Omar Jatta, despite a prepossessing boxing exploits, did not get a mention in the press back home until last week –thirty-five days after he reduced Turkish-born TurgayUzun, international German middle lightweight division champion, to a punching bag. That duel, staged in Hamburg against a man boasting 31 victories in 47 fights, secured him his first boxing silverware, crowning him the Global Boxing Council world middleweight champion –the first Gambian to reach such a feat. The GBC 160 belt is a prized asset any winner would enthusiastically flaunt and brag about but not Omar Jatta who, now at 36, audaciously dreams of claiming the ‘world champ’ title. In an exclusive with Foroyaa Sport from his Salzburg residence, the five feet, ten inch, on his latest achievement said: This is my first title and I stand a chance to the IBO title which is among the 5 top belts in the World’ Omar has stayed away for so long a time but such is his strong Gambian connection that flying back home tops his agenda –a country he has only fond memories of. ‘2015, here I am with the most important opportunity of my life -to represent Gambia on the world stage. And I’m bringing the belt home to celebrate the victory with the Gambian people. And I want to see more young Gambian boxers bringing more world titles.’ Born February 14th 1979,Jatta’s rise to prominence did not happen overnight. Landing in the sores of Europe, the super middle weight fighter would have been brandishing a rifle as a soldier perhaps in the confines of Gambia’s military barracks had he not chosen the ring. Like countless professionals in the rigours of the ring, he had his inspiration from Galveston Giant named Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion –son of former slaves who worked as dish-washers. He continued: ‘I was inspired by Jack Johnson who became the first African-American to win the world heavyweight title. If I wasn’t a boxer, I would have definitely been a Soldier because I wanted to serve my country in one way or the other. I came to Europe through boxing’ And, on December 12th 2004 the Gambian had his first taste of boxing in Austria against Romanian-born Alexandru Manea an opponent which to this day 8th March 2014 is still to find his first career win in a total of fifty-four fights. As hoped, Jatta effortlessly eased past Cruiserweight-ranked Manea aged 38 who, it’s reported, has the worst boxing record of losses in history. Omar followed up that easy ride with four more triumphs, three on knock-outs, before defeats crept in –first against CsabaGyorfi on points, the now 27-year-old Hungarian he later subjected to severe beatings in a revenge clash in 2007. Ululating on his then dwindling rate of wins, Omar told Foroyaa Sport: ‘Entering the ring for the first time wasn’t easy. It felt great and it got me a contract with a boxing agent in Vienna. But the contract came to an end and I didn’t want to renew it. No not at all (on whether he at any point got dispirited by the number of defeats). It made me picked up my gloves and hit the gym to train harder and become a better boxer that I am today…’ ‘The rematch did me good,’ he says on the Csaba combat, ‘because I had a chance to prove that I’m the better boxer and defeated him.’ Not much losses trailed his pathlater keeping an unblemished record of being unbeaten for one year three months -last getting spanked in 2013 against undefeated Lagos-born NuhaLawal. Sixteen wins, nine loses and draw on points is Omar current statistic. Unlike others, the Gambian is unattached to any promotion agency and instead does all arrangement of fights by himself. The reason? ‘It’s hard to find a manager who will help me build my career,’ he says. The new GBC champion is not your usual average sportsman andholds an opinion in worldly politics. ‘Send them your heart so they’ll know that someone cares. We are all a part of God’s great big family’ was his message to his 300-plus followers attached with a photo of a troubled-looking child clung to barbwires, in it, bearing these words ‘Freedom for Palestine Boycott Israel’. Lifting heavyweights of assorted shapes and sizes is certainly no child’s play and aware of the rigours and toils in the gym to the risk of being on the receiving end of a merciless all punching opponent; Omar knows there will come a moment to apply the breaks on his career. ‘My aim is to retire at the age of 40 but I’ll still be active in boxing as a promoter and trainer in The Gambia,’ he confidently concludes expressing gratitude to MOYS Alieu K Jammeh.]]>

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