All that glit­ters is not gold

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Ti­nashe Kusema

THE story of Wil­fred Mashaya (Pic­tured)is best un­der­stood as a cau­tion­ary tale of the old adage ‘all that glit­ters is not gold’.

Here is a young man who grew up in the dusty streets of Mu­fakose us­ing mar­tial arts as a form of es­capism.

He would of­ten re­treat into the imag­i­nary world of his he­roes Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to stay away from drugs and crime.

That pas­sion grew into ob­ses­sion and then into a ca­reer, and he now stands as one of the most dec­o­rated and recog­nis­able faces in Kobu­doka on the con­ti­nent.

“I grew up watch­ing Bruce Lee movies and was in awe of him, go­ing on to make my own chuckle sticks and im­i­tat­ing him,” said the 36-year-old.

“As I grew up, I re­alised that I had tal­ent in weapons and started train­ing my­self, ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent weapons.

“I met a few Asians who helped me per­fect my skills be­fore be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional in 2016 when I took part in my first in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

“I won sil­ver and bronze medals, and more im­por­tantly got graded to mas­ter de­gree sec­ond Dan black belt,” he said.

Kobu­doka is the tra­di­tional Ja­panese form of an­cient weaponry mar­tial arts, and while the 36-year-old ap­pears to be rel­a­tively new, odds are one is likely to have come across him dur­ing the ZRP’s pass-out pa­rades, his Agri­cul­tural Show per­for­mances or other pub­lic func­tions.

There, Mashaya goes by the moniker “Zim­babwe Ninja” and is usu­ally draped in a black ninja out­fit.

The year 2018 has been good for the Po­lice Sergeant; but then again, that could ar­guably be one of the big­gest un­der­state­ments of the year.

Mashaya is cur­rently the reign­ing world Kobudo cham­pion, was re­cently ap­pointed the Pres­i­dent of Zim­babwe Sport Nun­chaku by the World Nun­chaku As­so­ci­a­tion (WNA) based in the Nether­lands and won Mas­ter of the Year Award in Italy last week­end It was in Italy that his crow­ing mo­ment came when Mashaya was in­ducted as the first class of the Mar­tial He­roes Hall of

“This truly has been my big­gest year in mar­tial arts,” said Mashaya.

“I have a plethora of achieve­ments from tour­na­ment wins, my world cham­pi­onship crown­ing mo­ment and the ap­point­ment with the Zim­babwe Sport Nun­chaku As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I have met so many peo­ple and had great ex­pe­ri­ences along the way,” he said. Un­for­tu­nately, un­der­neath the ve­neer of crown­ing mo­ments, great achieve­ments and ex­pe­ri­ences, have been some dark days. Many dark days.

“There are so many chal­lenges that come with this sport,” said Mashaya.

“Firstly, spon­sor­ship is hard to come by and one of­ten has to con­tend with doors be­ing closed in their face, nu­mer­ous dis­ap­point­ments and swal­low­ing of one’s pride.

“Equip­ment is hard to come by and one can­not find any of the things I need lo­cally, never mind the travel and tour­na­ment ex­penses.

“Racism is an­other big is­sue and one has to have a thick skin.

“I re­mem­ber when I started com­pet­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, the Asians and a por­tion of the white com­mu­nity found it hard to ac­cept that a black African could com­pete at their level.

“I did not have any peo­ple to turn to given that I was and still am the only African com­pet­ing at this level. It was been very lonely on the road.

“I also had to con­tend with the stares and whis­pers, which re­ally af­fected my game. “I am glad that over the years, ac­cep­tance has grown and now I think about 75 per­cent of the in­ter­na­tional fight­ing com­mu­nity now see me as an equal,” he said.

It does help that the 36-year-old has all this suc­cess to cush­ion him from the chal­lenges.

“The ex­pe­ri­ences from this year alone have been awe in­spir­ing,” he said.

“I am also a bud­ding ac­tor and in the fu­ture l hope to ven­ture full-time into film.

I have had the time of my life this year meet­ing renowned ac­tors like Cyn­thia Rothrock, Grand­mas­ter Sifu Sa­muel Kwok, Ip­man 3 ac­tor Si­mon Kook and Sunny Singh.

“I grew up watch­ing some of th­ese peo­ple and be­ing able to mix, min­gle and have them know who I am was to­tally out of this world,” he said.

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