When a teenager im­presses his com­peti­tors on the track, you know he’s on the yel­low brick road to great­ness

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

Samke­liso “Sam Sam” Thubane comes across as a shy and la­conic young man – but not on the spin­ning track. “Eh, well, what can I say?” says the 18-year-old when asked how he feels about win­ning e.tv’s So You Think You Can Spin com­pe­ti­tion. Thubane’s re­served char­ac­ter be­lies an adren­a­line junkie who has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the car-spin­ning sport – made pop­u­lar by am­ag­intsa (gang­sters) over the past 35 years – since he was 12 years old in 2010.

He pock­eted a cool R250 000 last month af­ter his amaz­ing skills gath­ered him the most pub­lic votes ahead of 300 older con­tes­tants from all over the coun­try. But such a feat – and the fact that he is now the cham­pi­onship ti­tle­holder af­ter spin­ning be­came recog­nised as a na­tional sport by Mo­tor­sport South Africa in 2014 – has not made him boast­ful.

The teenager from Mahushu vil­lage out­side the sa­fari town of Hazyview in Mpumalanga is a house­hold name in his prov­ince.

He has been at­tract­ing crowds at spin­ning com­pe­ti­tions in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try be­cause of his age and mas­tery of a box BMW – pop­u­larly know as a gusheshe in town­ship slang.

“I en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion to win it,” said Thubane, “and I’ve al­ways told my­self that I must al­ways work hard, and bring some­thing new and spec­tac­u­lar in ev­ery event that I par­tic­i­pate in.

“I did all I could and left ev­ery­thing in the hands of the coun­try to vote and de­cide.”

Ernest Nkosi, the owner of com­pe­ti­tion rights holder Monar­chy Group which ran the com­pe­ti­tion, says Thubane won the com­pe­ti­tion for his spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance in episode 11 on home turf at Numbi Gate Spin City. The Numbi area is the epi­cen­tre of spin­ning in the prov­ince, so it is no sur­prise that the new­est cham­pion comes from that part of the world.

Thubane showed his mas­tery: he got out of his gusheshe and left it to spin on its own, and then got be­hind the wheel of an­other gusheshe which he then spun around the other one. He then re­turned to it and per­formed amaz­ing stunts – stand­ing on it and get­ting in and out of the car while it spun on its own.

Even his com­peti­tors could not hide their ad­mi­ra­tion, in­clud­ing Lim­popo’s Feroz Cas­sim, who said be­fore the Top 8 round: “My big­gest com­peti­tor is Sam Sam. He’s got the skill and knows what he’s do­ing.”

Thubane said he started his spin ca­reer play­ing with and spin­ning quad bikes. His fa­ther My­boet, who owns trans­port and con­struc­tion busi­nesses, was into spin­ning cars and the young man de­vel­oped an in­ter­est.

“I re­mem­ber the first time I tried to spin a car. I couldn’t con­trol it and I didn’t know where it was go­ing,” he said. Thubane then prac­tised some more un­der the guid­ance of ex­pe­ri­enced Team Numbi mem­bers. He at­tended his first event at Rocky’s Drift out­side White River in 2010.

“Even then ev­ery­body was waiting ex­pec­tantly to see me spin be­cause they had heard about the 12-year-old boy [who spins cars],” Thubane said.

Thubane is study­ing to­wards a Busi­ness Man­age­ment Diploma at Bos­ton Col­lege in Mbombela. His wish is to see the sport grow­ing and sponsors pump­ing in money.

Nkosi said that So You Think You Can Spin was the first tele­vised spin­ning com­pe­ti­tion. It at­tracted just un­der a mil­lion view­ers per episode be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber last year.

“It was a good six years in the mak­ing. From here we can only hope that we will se­cure more money and grow it.”

Thubane in­tends par­tic­i­pat­ing in “drift­ing” in future, be­cause it is more “in­ter­na­tional”.

Drift­ing dif­fers from spin­ning in that it fo­cuses on slid­ing the ve­hi­cle in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, in­stead of spin­ning it around.

But in the mean­time he will still fo­cus on spin­ning be­cause “I love the sport and do it for fun”.


SPIN DOC­TOR Samke­liso ‘Sam Sam’ Thubane got out of one spin­ning car, and got into a sec­ond car and spun it around the still spin­ning first car, win­ning the ad­mi­ra­tion of every­one watch­ing

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