Meet the man who introduced blind football to Uganda
The former player known as King Kong, who led the country to a first-ever Super League title
By Andrew Mwileni
A young football fan from Northern Uganda watches a match involving Uganda’s All Stars. Photo: Emmanuel Mwakagala/AFP/Getty Images
Fifty years ago, King Kong was a poor boy from Southern Sudan who never dreamed of a life far from home, let alone one as a professional football player. Today, he is Uganda’s most famous footballer and a legend around the world.
But the road to where he is today was a very different one.
The son of a single mother, King Kong was born in 1941 on the very eve of the British conquest of Sudan and then the South Sudanese war of independence from Britain in 1956. He was just 23 years old when the fighting began, but by the time the war ended, he was already a professional footballer who had played for the army before leaving for football after attending boarding school.
“When I left the army, I left with a lot of my savings to support myself, to support my mother and pay for school,” King Kong said. “Without a doubt I was in debt but also without a doubt I was a very good footballer and I enjoyed playing. But, at that time, the most important thing for a footballer was to stay fit and remain physically fit, because the chance of earning money was also in your hands.”
King Kong would often return home to Sudan to find his mother, who had returned to the country with him, only to find that she had either been divorced or had died. He returned to the family home only to find that his childhood bedroom — which his mother had slept in — was now used as a storage room.
“It was kind of the worst time in my life, living alone in my own house and not having anybody to talk to,” King Kong remembered. “I was very young and I had to live for myself.”
When he returned home, he would play football and other games in the streets and, though his mother would often ask him to go back to school and he would promise to do so, in