TOP Zimbabwean karateka Tangai Mhlanga’s dream of representing Africa at the World Fighting Kyokushin Tournament (WKFO) in Russia last week went up in smoke after he was denied entry into that country by immigration officers.
BY GRACE CHIRANGANDE
Zimbabwe Karate Union technical director Sensei Kumbirai Musinami confirmed the unfortunate setback to NewsDay Sport, adding that Mhlanga’s hopes of competing in Russia had received a double whammy.
“Tangai had all his travelling documents in order, but he was denied access by a Russian official who said that when Zimbabweans get into Russia, they do not go back to their country.
“He had to fly back into the country on the same flight and this was a major setback to the country,” Musinami said.
Mhlanga earned the right to represent Africa at the World Fighting Kyokushin Tournament after winning the middleweight contest at the African World Fighting Kyokushin championships in South Africa at the beginning of the year.
The failure to enter Russia robbed Mhlanga an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of renowned Zimbabwean Karateka Samson Muripo who became the first African to win a world karate championship title.
Muripo won gold in 2009 at the inaugural International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan World Karate Tournament in Japan.
The award-winning Muripo blamed poor communication for Mhlanga’s plight.
“I think the organisers of the tournament did not properly communicate with their immigration officials as should be the
case when hosting such events,” Muripo said.
“I understand they came later to try and talk to the police about letting Mhlanga into their country, but it was too late as he was already on his flight back home.”
He described Mhlanga’s failure to get to the world championships as a huge blow.
“It was a major disadvantage as it would have been a good experience for Mhlanga who was in his first world-class tournament.’’
Mhlanga’s trip was catered for by the African Kyokushin Board.