Sharif Bogere is a Ugandan-born boxer fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Sharif started punching for pay in 2008 after a successful amateur career in which he became a five-time African champion and was named captain of the Ugandan national team in 2006. After six years in the pro ranks, Sharif has a record of 25 wins, 17 by knockout, and only 1 defeat. Bogere’s unanimous decision victory over Raymundo Beltran in May of 2011 is his biggest win to date and earned him the NABO lightweight title. Fight fans will recall a rough-and-tumble battle which saw Bogere fight through a cut eyelid caused by a butt to take the close verdict over the always tough Beltran.
Bogere’s only defeat came when he dropped a decision to current WBA lightweight champion Richard Abril in a messy, foul-filled affair. Following that loss and after taking some time off to deal with a serious injury, “The Lion” has returned and with two more victories is currently looking to take another step up and challenge for a title again.
Known for his flamboyant ring entrances and aggressive fighting style, Bogere’s quick hands and fearless, if not reckless, approach makes him a dangerous opponent for any of the current lightweight champions. Bogere is in action again this coming Thursday night in a tune-up match on Fox Sports 1.
The Fight City: Let’s start with your title shot against Richard Abril. After that match you suffered a serious setback and took 13 months off due to an injury. Have you fully recovered?
Sharif Bogere: Yeah, I had an injury for that fight. Actually, I was supposed to fight in December of 2012 but my Achilles tendon bothered me so I took a month or two off to visit doctors and the leg felt much better. So we scheduled the Abril fight for March of 2013 and during the match my leg was a problem but I fought through the injury. That was a rough fight and after I had to get medical attention and therapy. It took me a long time to recover. I was in therapy for a year. The problem was my Achilles tendon.
Your Achilles! That’s always a tough injury, difficult to recover from.
Oh yeah, man!
In your recovery time were you looking to change strategies and tactics as well? Or was the time devoted strictly to rehab?
I kept training and boxing but I didn’t do too much. I couldn’t do much running. But I think people will see a different Sharif in my upcoming fights now that I am fully recovered.
Your first match back saw a step down in terms of quality of opposition when you faced Arturo Urena.
Yeah, that was a fight to get back in there. I had been out for more than a year so that was just to get back into the ring and get started, like a tune-up.
Most recently you fought Miguel Zamudio.
In that fight I got cut so I’ve been off because of that, but now we’re ready for any of the top guys out there. I’m ready for anyone.
On Twitter I saw you call out Yuriorkis Gamboa. You really want to take on someone like Gamboa?
Oh yeah, we want any of those guys. We want top guys, top dogs. We don’t want to fight up and coming guys. I’m ready to be in there with champions now and I’m ready to fight for a title. But Gamboa wants an easy match to bring him back on top. For me right now, I want one of those champions, like Abril or any champion.
So anyone, as long as it’s a top fighter?
Yeah, we want to fight for a title right now! We’re ready.
I want to change gears a bit and ask about your background. Can you describe what life was like back in Uganda?
Back home, it’s always a struggle. I made it out of there because of boxing. Life there is really tough and you have to do a lot of different things to survive. The places I grew up were tough, rough places. I had guidance in boxing and in school. What I did was school and boxing, school and boxing, until finally God brought me here. Amen! Life back home is very tough.
Does coming from that type of background give you an advantage over fighters from the USA? Do you have something extra that they don’t have?
Of course. When I go into the ring I go with anger but also I am proud of myself because I’ve come up from a hard, rough place. I’ve been there. I’ve lived a different kind of life. Now I don’t take nothing for granted. Having lived in Africa with that struggle and suffering, I mean, we didn’t even have punching gloves. People here take that for granted.
So as a kid you learned to box bare-fisted?
Yeah, man, no gloves, no shoes, no gym. We used to fight in the streets. Take off our shirts and wrap it around our hands and start sparring. Just wrap up your hands and start fighting someone on the street.
It’s fair to say most young boxers don’t have to go through that!
People here don’t know. Here you can buy gloves for maybe $15 but back home, they’re very expensive.
Can you describe the role that faith has in your life and your approach to boxing?
Islam has kept me humble. I look at people as we are: equal. I don’t see myself as superior. I treat everybody equally. Islam teaches us to love one another and respect people for who they are. It keeps me on a straight path. No one is perfect, but I try to stay as humble as I can.
Did you have a favorite boxer growing up?
Back home it was really hard to see boxing. I didn’t have television. We would hear about Shane Mosely, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather. As I started to advance in boxing I saw on tape Sugar Ray Leonard when he fought Duran, Hagler and all the tough guys back in the day. I liked Sugar Ray, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, but I didn’t really have a favorite because growing up we had no TV.
You know, back home we have good fighters, but they just don’t have the opportunity. We have great boxers who never had a chance to get on a plane to go somewhere and fight. The local boxers are good and they fight a lot back home. For example, 300 kids will show up for an amateur tournament and the tournament will last a week. I learned a lot back home and I fought in a lot of special contests. I grew up in a boxing gym where there were a lot of professionals.
Do you see yourself playing a role in helping to build the sport in Uganda and maybe helping some of these Ugandan boxers?
I can never forget where I come from. I know the roughness of the place and I’d like to help others to have a chance as long as God blesses me and things are good financially. I would like to help. There are a lot of different plans, not just for people back home, but for the whole world.
What can boxing fans look forward to in the near future?
Right now I am ready for anything. It’s up to Golden Boy Promotions. I’m waiting to hear from them. I’m ready. Everything comes from God and next thing you know I might be a world champion. If God wills it, I am ready for anyone.
— Emile Ferlisi