In a world where excess weight often stands as a barrier to a fulfilling life, 17-year-old Dan Tumukunde has defied the odds by turning his weight loss journey into a triumphant ascent as a weightlifting athlete.
Tumukunde’s body insecurity coupled with financial hurdles became his motivation to a remarkable transformation that has seen him clinch medals in prestigious tournaments.
After his Uganda Certificate of Education, UCE final examinations, Tumukunde was unable to continue his education due to the inability to raise tuition.
His mother, struggling with limited resources, couldn’t afford to meet the dues for him and his siblings to carry on with school, forcing him to make a tough decision.
First, it was a journey to shed weight and boost his confidence around his mates after enduring body shaming episodes.
His fitness regimen included running, gym workouts at the renowned Kisugu Unified gym, known for producing elite weightlifting athletes including Tokyo 2020 misfit Julius Ssekitoleko.
However, after noticing his rare strength during bench presses, Coach Ivan Masakwe took a gamble on this young man when he introduced him to weightlifting, setting the stage for a sporting career.
“Dan came to the gym to lose weight, but as a coach, I saw potential in him as he progressed with the work out and suggested to him to join weight lifting as it would not only help him keep fit but also build a career since he was still young.” Coach Ivan Masakwe tells NBS Sport.
Weightlifting demands more than just raw strength. Tumukunde had to master flexibility and energy.
Undeterred, he honed his skills, achieving impressive feats such as a maximum clean and jerk of 220 kgs, a squat of 230 kgs, and a deadlift of 240 kgs and is still going.
“I had to learn the sport’s basics, including flexibility, and energy because weight lifting requires pure strength and mobility.” says the 17 year old.
At this tender age, Tumukunde has already left an indelible mark in the world of sports.
His achievements include winning the gold medal at the Uzani Games Power Weekend IV U23 in Nairobi in December 2022, seven medals at the 2023 Youth and Junior African Championships in Cairo, Egypt, including three gold in the youth category, three silver in the junior category to secure the second position in Africa, among others.
His coach affirms, “With the discipline to consistently follow the right training and guidance, this boy is destined for bigger success.
As an African Youth champion aspiring for the world youth championship, he is on track to become the next big thing,” he continues.
The teenager now aims to secure an Olympic gold medal and represent Uganda at the biggest stages.
However, like many young dreamers in Africa, his journey is dettered by heavy financial weights.
“I lack the funds for supplements, walking to the gym strains my knees since i have to do heavy squats. With no job, I train all day, can barely afford other gyms with equipment for muscle growth and different experience among others,” he painfully highlights.
His plea is simple but profound, he seeks a sponsor who shares a passion for sportsmanship, understands his journey, and is willing to support his basic needs.
This support, he believes, can help him scale heights.
Currently, Tumukunde is among the twelve Athletes In the contest for a slot on the Uganda weight lifting national team destined for the Africa Weightlifting Championship in Cairo, Egypt, in February 2024.