Skate­boarder flips his way to the top

SA pro­fes­sional Khule Ngubane, 23, is liv­ing the Cal­i­for­nian dream, writes TANYA WATERWORTH

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Cin­derella story of skate­board­ing. That’s how Dur­ban-born pro­fes­sional skate­boarder Khule Ngubane de­scribes his life. His grand­fa­ther bought him his first skate­board when he was 12. By 15, he had turned pro­fes­sional and now, at 23, has trav­elled the world and is friendly with the likes of US skate­board­ing leg­ends Tony Hawk and Rob Dyrdek.

This week, Ngubane spoke to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia about mak­ing it in the highly com­pet­i­tive US mar­ket, ex­pand­ing tra­di­tional per­cep­tions about ca­reers and vi­su­al­is­ing suc­cess.

“I grew up with my mom and grand­par­ents in Ch­ester­ville. For my 12th birth­day, my grandpa bought me my first skate­board,” he said.

“When I first saw skate­board­ing on tele­vi­sion, I knew it was some­thing I had to try.

“I took my new skate­board to the skate park at Pavil­ion and I was hooked,” said the for­mer Dur­ban High School pupil.

By 15, he was al­ready trav­el­ling around the world and com­pet­ing in skate­board­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

“There was a lot of pres­sure from my fam­ily not to choose skate­board­ing as a ca­reer, but once I started get­ting pay cheques, they were okay with it,” joked Ngubane.

He made his first Amer­i­can con­nec­tions when he com­peted in the Kim­ber­ley Di­a­mond Cup against some of the world’s best skate­board­ers.

“Then I went to Flor­ida where there are some of the best skate­board­ers on the planet and then on to Cal­i­for­nia.

“Now I spend a lot of time in Cal­i­for­nia, but have also been around Africa in­clud­ing Swazi­land, Mozam­bique, Nige­ria and Sene­gal.

“In Africa, skate­board­ing is a de­vel­op­ing sport and chal­lenges in­clude gravel roads, fenced-off ar­eas and few skate parks.

“I have learnt a lot in the last 11 years. We are in the tran­si­tion to a new gen­er­a­tion where we are mov­ing away from mak­ing money by tra­di­tional ways, such as be­com­ing a doc­tor or lawyer. I fin­ished ma­tric and started univer­sity, but then had to choose. I chose skate­board­ing and I have gone places that other peo­ple will never go to. If I had stayed in univer­sity, I would have been that av­er­age kid with a B.Comm de­gree look­ing for a job.

“Cal­i­for­nia is full of dream­ers where there are ways of mak­ing money if you are more artis­tic and we are liv­ing in an amaz­ing gen­er­a­tion, it’s okay to be a rebel,” said Ngubane.

His at­tributes his pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and con­fi­dent out­look to grow­ing up in a close knit fam­ily.

“My grand­par­ents are still in Ch­ester­ville and I was lucky to grow up in a lov­ing en­vi­ron­ment with good morals and spir­i­tual val­ues. I was the only kid in the town­ship who rode a skate­board and also had the stigma of hav­ing a ‘white’ ac­cent. I sup­pose I had some­thing to prove. I en­vi­sioned what I wanted to do when I was 12 years old, now I am liv­ing that re­al­ity,” he said.

Ngubane first met Tony Hawk when he was 15 and then again nine months ago.

“He helps po­ten­tial skate­board­ers and has also helped Tal­ent Biyela, an­other pro­fes­sional skate­boarder from here. I have also met Rob Dyrdek, who is awe­some,” he said.

He has a num­ber of Amer­i­can and South African spon­sors, in­clud­ing DC cloth­ing and shoes, Mon­ster En­ergy, El­e­ment skate­boards and Nixon watches.

“I will spend up to five hours a day skat­ing and fol­low a healthy diet to keep light. I am mainly veg­e­tar­ian, but still spoil my­self some­times with chicken or fish.

“I also med­i­tate and get on the right spir­i­tual path to keep in good spir­its and main­tain en­ergy. It works for me,” he said.

When back in Dur­ban, Ngubane can of­ten be found at the beach­front skate park where he helps young skate­board­ers.

He is also branch­ing out into the mu­sic in­dus­try and has recorded some hip-hop. He will re­turn to the US at the end of next month.

PIC­TURES: MOTSHWARI MO­FO­KENG

Dur­ban skate­boarder, Khule Ngubane, 23, who is mak­ing a name for him­self in­ter­na­tion­ally, skat­ing at a beach­front skate­board park.

Khule Ngubane has found his feet on the in­ter­na­tional skate­board­ing stage

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