'Till the beast in me dies'

HARARE - The country’s finest sportsperson for 2017 — karateka Samson Muripo — has vowed to continue with his sweat and blood tatami sport until the beast in him departs from his soul.

With the latest international recognition and title bestowed on him in India in September following the successful completion of a test not for the faint-hearted, the belief was that the first ever African World karate champion will have to reschedule his programme to concentrate more on the developmental initiatives both locally and in the region.

Muripo was named Shihan, a Japanese term that is used in many Japanese martial arts as an honorific title for expert or senior instructors translated to mean “master instructor” during the five-day Iko World So Kyokushin grading event.

He holds a host of titles including Zimbabwe So Kyokusin chief instructor, a council member of the International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkain and is a firm believer of the Word also reminding that after life follows death and we ought to be in unison with the Creator.

After claiming the biggest local sports award at last week’s Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) dinner at a local hotel, Muripo disclosed to the Daily News that his best is yet to come and as long as his body wills and sponsorship as well as support from stakeholders across the whole spectrum is forthcoming, he will continue to fight and make the country proud.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: Congratulations for being crowned the finest sportsperson in the country. How do you feel about this recognition and what does it mean to you and the Zimbabwe Karate Union at large?

A: The feeling is indescribable and I want to thank God for this honour. I am deeply humbled by these achievements after having been highly recognised by our government.

It is quite motivating and encouraging. Glory be to God. It is motivational to Zimbabwe Karate as a whole, assuring every karateka that nothing is impossible as long as we do our best, keeping our heads low while our eyes are kept high.

By doing that, the sky will be the limit in our entire quest for excellence, all the days of our lives.

Karate, among other minority sports, has been overlooked for many years and we hope this award will draw the attention of government, corporates and other stakeholders to the sport.

Q: Is this something that you have always looked forward to at any stage of your career, scoring this big?

A: This, I can say, has the hand of God from the onset; too big to have ever dreamt about.

He led me through the fire of hard training in Kyokushin Karate and the experience thereof has developed me to an extent that I am prepared to move into uncharted waters without fear whatsoever. I have a strong mind and undeterred spirit.

However, this would be hard to achieve without the coming on board of gallant support from many people, in the likes of Innocent Guvuriro of I Guviriro Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Sempai David T. Gamanya, George Maposa, doctor Manson Mnaba who covered most of my 2017 international trips and So-Kyokushin Squad Training Drivers Sensei Bakari Jamali, Sensei Kumbirai Musinami and all karatekas at large for the motivational support during tough training sessions which have become my lifestyle.

Q: Where do you go from here after adding the Shihan title to your sporting CV, seems your competing days are numbered. Is this new feather likely to impact on your career in anyway?

A: For as long as the beast in me is still alive and if resources permit, nothing will stop me whilst in the predestined path set by the Maker, the sky will be resting place when I die not even my limit.

Q: Can you take us back to where it all started. How did you end up taking karate as a profession?

A: I started training Karate in 1993 at Ndima Government Secondary School in Chimanimani and later on enrolled at Body Fitness Centre late 1997, a martial art institution which was very progressive in town during those days under the stewardship of Sensei Tendayi Marange, the current number one Zimbabwe Branch Chief of Kyokushin-kan International.

It has been a tough journey but changed my life. God stretched and strengthened my mind, my physical being and the one inside me, my spirit.

I exhausted the little I had and God networked me with people that saw my fighting will, the likes of Stephen Charundura- the current Zimbabwe Karate Union secretary general, Shihan Bastiaan Lindert van Stenis who is like the Grandfather of Kyokushin Karate in Zimbabwe since 2003, standing with us through thick and thin, Givemore Sambadzi of Alcatraz who sponsored my maiden trips to Japan in 2006 and 2007, to mention but a few, and supported it until I fell into the presence of Hashi Diago Oishi, seeking for knowledge.

I attended his training camp and later on went through a one on one Kyokushin Karate developmental training programme with him that totally changed me. Thereafter, he personally said to me, ‘wherever you are going, you will be a champion,’ after seeing the fire which was burning inside me.

Q: Which achievement ranks high for you in all the success stories that you have recorded to date?

A: Gold Medal and best Technical Prize I scooped right in the home of Kyokushin Karate at the 1st World Cup Open Karate Tournament — Kyokushin Union in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2009.

It was special because that was the first time I proved to the pioneers of the sport that Africans will be the best in the world given the resources they have.

Q: Any local, regional and international karatekas you adore and for what reason?

A: Locally, we have old time fighters like Sensei Admire Chingozhoro, Sensei George Mutambu and Sensei Brian Chiringa to mention but a few.

Those karatekas have a down to earth character that I personally emulate and above all, their continued participation in local, regional and international events with a distinction.

Regionally, I have a long list of karatekas that inspired me to be where I am right now; names not necessary.

Q: As an administrator what achievements are you proud of, how do you rate the state of local karate and any changes you would want to see taking place if you are given a choice to run the affairs of the local association?

A: Zimbabwe Full Contact Karate has been growing very well and has become a force to reckon with in the region and globally.

After having inspired a lot of athletes, I hope to see unstoppable vertical acceleration of victories, locally, regionally and internationally.

My prayer is that government gives the same attention to Karate as a whole as they give to soccer and cricket.

This is the second time I have been named Sports Person of the year and I hope things will improve for all the other karatekas. I am already committed to the development of karate in Zimbabwe in my role as Africa branch chief for So-Kyokushin.

I am there to support the structures within our national association for the sport to keep growing.

Q: Your family; can you tell us a bit about your family background?

A: Kyokushin has become so much of my life that I have found family in karate. It is amazing how close we are and for me to talk of my family will take ages. I feel like a father to many and brother to a number of karatekas. Those very close to me have learnt to love karate and the support has been amazing.

Q: And life outside karate?

A: My life is Kyokushin Karate all the way, I can’t imagine doing any other business.

However, I have ideas to professionalise the sport in our country so that our young fighters benefit financially from it. I pray they will materialise in our new Zimbabwe.

Q: Your advice to upcoming and already established karatekas?

A: Nothing is impossible in all our diverse ways and responsibilities as long as we give it our best

Above all, the fear of the Lord remembering Him in our youth days before the dreadful day comes.