His 1988 gold medal remains Kenya’s only Olympic gold medal in boxing.
In the championship bout, the hard punching boxer won by a Technical Knock Out (TKO) in the second round against Laurent Boundani of France, bringing him crashing down on the canvas with a powerful right hand blow.
His professional career started out on a high note with 12 consecutive wins before starting losing momentum, At one point, frustrated by his lack of continual success, he contemplated moving back to Kenya.
His 13th bout marked his first career loss and followed with three other losses during this period.
In July 1994 Wangila went up against David Gonzalez in a World Boxing Council bout scheduled for 10 rounds in Las Vegas.
Wangila had a good fight from the onset but as Gonzalez’s punches kept landing and taking a heavy toll on Wangila, the referee stopped the match in the 9th round and awarded Gonzalez the win.
Following the match, the Kenyan boxer seemed okay at first, and even walked back to the dressing room. A short time later, he started vomiting and subsequently collapsed into a coma.
He was quickly rushed to hospital where doctors discovered a blood clot on the right side of his head. He and died 36- hours later. He was just 26.
The brilliant rise, and tragic fall, of Robert Wangila remains a story of inspiration and caution for today’s African boxers. It is especially relevant at this period in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics where the nations of Africa are set to send a large boxing contingent hoping to emulate Wangila’s 1988 Olympic feat