Synopsis by Mark Deming
Plenty of professional sports stars have had to overcome adversity to achieve success, but few have had to struggle against the harrowing circumstances that met Kassim "the Dream" Ouma in his childhood. Born in Uganda in 1978, Ouma was one of 13 siblings; he was born into poverty and sent to a boarding school where, at the age of six, he was abducted along with most of his classmates by rebel soldiers under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni. The soldiers taught Ouma how to kill, maim and torture others, and he was forced to inflict punishment under the threat of death. Museveni became Uganda's president in 1986 and Ouma was drafted into the military as soon as he came of age; while a soldier, he began taking boxing lessons. Ouma had a great natural talent as a fighter, and became a star on the army's boxing team. But Ouma dreamed of a better life, and when Uganda's national team traveled to compete in America, he defected, seeking asylum in the United States. Despite having no money and not speaking a word of English, 18-year-old Ouma was welcomed by Africans in the American boxing community, and manager Tom Moran took Ouma under his wing and into his home. Ouma went on to become Light Middleweight champion and a top middleweight contender in a professional career that saw him win 24 of his 29 fights. Filmmaker Kief Davidson tells Ouma's remarkable true story in the documentary Kassim the Dream, in which Ouma talks about his ravaged childhood, coming to America, his return to Uganda, and how boxing became his therapy as he deals with the demons of his past. Kassim the Dream was an official selection at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.
asylum [protection], boxing, defector, determination, kidnapping, poverty, rebel, soldier, Uganda