BY MELINDA KUSEMACHIBI RENOWNED Zimbabwean karateka and former Sportsperson of the Year, Wilfred Mashaya, is already a proud man for many reasons.
From being crowned the Kobudo world champion and being inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2021, he has won almost all accolades in his chosen sport.
Mashaya, however, beams with immense pride when he talks of the success of his son Wilfred (Jnr), who has taken the world of martial arts by storm since he introduced him to the sport last year.
The seven year-old has defied tender age to establish himself as one of the future stars in the sport, winning several accolades both locally and on the international scene.
His biggest crowning moment thus far came early last month when he became the youngest Zimbabwean and African to be inducted in this Rome-based Spartan Hall of Warriors in Italy.
Naturally the karate prodigy’s early success in the sport has been a source of immense pride for his father, who runs the Zim Ninja Academy in Harare.
“He used to imitate me when l did my training and that is when he started to develop an interest in karate,” Mashaya Snr said
“When l saw the interest he had for karate I decided to start training with him and he has not looked back ever since. He has won a total of 17 medals in Virtual International Tournaments since 2020. In those competitions he was specialising more in weapon fighting which is called Kobudo Martial Arts. Of the 17 medals, 13 are gold medals, one silver and three bronze. Five of the gold medals he won in 2022 alone,” added Mashaya Snr with a smile.
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Mashaya (Snr), however, bemoaned lack of funding to acquire uniforms and training equipment as a major challenge they are facing at their academy, which started from humble beginnings in Mufakose.
The Zim Ninja Academy has since opened another base at Raylton Sports Club.
“Lack of proper uniforms, training gear and training equipment are some of the major problems we are facing and most of the time l use my own resources. Wilfred Jnr was supposed to go and receive his Hall of Fame award in Rome in person, but because of lack of sponsorship he could not travel,” he said.
Young Mashaya has been invited to Poland to participate in the World Championships to be held in September, but his participation is still hanging in the balance due to financial constraints.
“Right now he has been invited to Poland to participate in the World Championship to be held in September but financial resources are a challenge in his career, but l hope the nation will support the talent in him so that he goes there as the youngest Zimbabwean to achieve this feat,” Mashaya (Snr)added.
Mashaya (Jnr) started his karate career at the age of four and in a space of three years he has already featured in various international competitions.
Two years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic, he participated in international virtual competitions in kobudo (a weaponry martial arts style) competitions held virtually by various countries such as India, Poland, and Malta.
Mashaya Jnr thrilled the capacity crowd at Barbourfields Stadium with his scintillating martial arts display on Independence Day under police displays where he was called to perform.
The young star has since earned the nickname “The Karate Kid” after the popular American martial arts drama franchise created by Robert Mark Kamen.