S.L.I.F.F. Review: ‘Kassim the Dream’
In the world of sports movies, there are good movies and there are great movies. Amidst the boxing movie pantheon are recognizable titles like ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Cinderella Man’ but how many of us stop to consider the documentary in this category? ‘When We Were Kings’ was an incredible movie about Mohammed Ali. ‘Shadow Boxers’ was a great movie about women’s professional boxing. ‘Kassim the Dream’ is perhaps the film that takes king of the hill status over all the rest.
This extremely well-made documentary follows Kassim “The Dream” Ouma as he rises quickly in the world of IBF professional boxing after deserting the military in Uganda to make a better life for himself in America.Ã‚ Kassim was kidnapped at the age ofÃ‚ six and forced to fight in the rebel army. While serving, Kassim found his true calling when he joined the army’s boxing team. Kassim made his brave escape from the military while on a trip to America with Uganda’s amateur boxing team, leaving his family behind. This would ultimately be the root from which all of Kassim’s future success and heartache stems.
‘Kassim the Dream’ allows us to witness his training and his personal life living in America. Kassim has a young son with a woman in America who is his pride and joy, but he also grieves over the fact that he’s left his other son in poverty back in Uganda where his beloved grandmother and sisters are raising him in his absence. Kassim yearns to return home and see his family and wishes to bring his other son to America so he can provide a better life for him. In addition, Kassim is burdened with a heavy sense of grief for his father’s death, who was killed by the army as a result of Kassim deserting the military. Kassim struggles with this throughout the film until he finally makes his journey home, visiting his father’s grave while there, resulting in an extremely emotional scene of Kassim fully coming to terms with his father’s loss and begging for forgiveness.
The film is not without some great documentation of Kassim’s boxing. We witness he aggressive and fast-paced domination of the light middleweight division at which he becomes world champion. Kassim is an offensive fighter, throwing well over 100 punches per round and usually devours his opponent, overwhelming them with speed and accuracy. After losing his title to a fighter some would say was inferior, Kassim trains to move into the middleweight division to challenge Jermaine Taylor for the world championship. Kassim has the disadvantage in height, weight and reach, but he is confident he can out-smart and out-box Taylor for the title, promising his homeland of Uganda a champion before returning home. Kassim fights brilliantly and shows he has a chin of steel taking several hard hits to the head, but holds his own for a decision. The outcome of this fight would alsoÃ‚ have a heavy emotional impact on Kassim.
Kassim is a testament to faith and hard work. He is humble and he remains true to his roots and his family and loyal to Uganda while living in America. Throughout the film, Kassim refrains from speaking negatively to or about anyone, even when Jermaine Taylor take a more aggressive negative approach to promoting their fight. The President of Uganda at the time was the man in charge of the original child soldier policy, at which time Kassim was kidnapped and trained to kill. Kassim struggled with this, but did as he was told in order to survive. Despite the wrong done to him, Kassim does not hold grudged against the President or anyone else but does ask forgiveness for the atrocities he committed as a child soldier. ‘Kassim the Dreamer’ is mandatory viewing, in my opinion, whether you’re a fan of the sport of boxing or not… this film is much more than that!
[Overall:Ã‚ 4.5 stars out of 5]
Festival Screening Date: Sunday, November 16 @ 7:15pm(Tivoli)