Mhlanga defies odds, lands African Champs

HARARE - Sensei Samson Muripo has hailed So-Kyokushin fighter Tangai Mhlanga for defying odds to be crowned the African Champion in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Mhlanga proved a force to reckon with at the inaugural WFKO Championships, winning the Championship belt that came with it an all-expensive-paid for trip to Russia to compete in the World Championships in April.

To reach Joburg, the Zimbabwean fighter got off a 23 hour-long bus trip to the South African capital to compete in the event.

Two hours later, he was on the mat competing and winning. He got back on the bus for the gruelling journey back home to Harare.

Mhlanga was not alone in triumph with his countryman Shadreck Chigombe finishing third after beating Thabo Mbatha in the third-place play off.

The pair was aided by a month-long taxing training regime under mentor Sensei Samson Muripo.

Muripo, a renowned fighter who was crowned the first African World Champion in 2009, was naturally delighted with his students’ achievement.

“I will continue to groom more fighters like them, I am so excited,” said Muripo.

Limping with pain and injuries from the fights but smiling for the victory, Mhlanga walked around with his Championship belt telling journalists it had been worth the fight.

“It was not easy, I didn't know what was going to happen. I owe this to my fellow fighters back home who were sending me messages on my way to the tournament. They believed in me and supported me all the way,” he said.

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