Anthony Kettle with Regis Muyambo. Photo: Supplied

Anthony Kettle is a true gem in the combat sports arena.

The former Silverback Mixed Martial Arts gym owner has influenced so many human beings along the way, and has committed his life unselfishly toward growing individuals and the sport.

From boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing and more, he has guided so many world-class warriors to championships, as well as changed people’s lives for the better.

Anthony recently retired from all things combat sports –  business owner, manager, coach and trainer – leaving a gaping hole in the combat sports climate due to his love and care for his students and athletes.

Here, we give a handful of his athletes a platform to share just how big a role the man has played in their  their lives.

Themba Gorimbo (EFC welterweight champion):

“Anthony believed I will become a champion, and I did. He also helped many other people to become what they wanted.”

Alain Ilunga (EFC lightweight number one contender):

“Anthony, he was my first manager and coach in South Africa. He made me in this EFC world. He also helped me get a fight for the EFC Africa title in 2013.”

Fayyaadhah Gopi (student):

“It’s not easy explaining the impact a great mentor has on a person. I had just moved from my small home town to get a fresh start. I was unhealthy, both mentally and physically.

“I had started at his gym as a means to better myself. Taking one, one-hour class a week.

“He would greet me with genuine warmth and care. He wrapped my hands for me before each class for (the) first six months with a smile.

“His consistent passion for teaching this beautiful art was what kept me going back for two hours everyday of the week for the next five years.

“It didn’t take long for his devoted coaching, persistence and attention to help me lay the foundation that would help me become a better version of myself.

“I was thriving. He encouraged me to be comfortable in my body, my mental health was better than ever.

“Coach Anthony created a safe space without judgment or ego where people came together to learn and practice.

“The lessons I’ve learnt from him over the years are countless. Not only from what he has physically taught me, but also from watching how he is as a person.

“I could never express in words how grateful I am to have stumbled across him. The impact he has had on my life is inexplicable. He finds those of us who need a little extra and he nurtures and cares for us until we flourish.  

“His presence in my life has undoubtedly been one of the main factors in making me the person I am today.

“It is a rare and wonderful thing to find someone who is genuinely interested in trying to help, to teach and guide and care, with no hidden agenda. He won’t be teaching anymore, but still makes an effort to include me in his life.”

Juan Bezuidenhout (Current EFC heavyweight star and former kickboxing champion):

“Whenever you needed to talk to someone or needed help, he was always there. He is one of those coaches who is always there for his fighters. Sometimes we wondered if he had a family (laughs).”

Gabriella Drewery (under Anthony’s guidance, became a three-time kickboxing champion, attained provincial colours in Muay Thai, National colours in kickboxing and became a SA boxing champion):

“I remember Anthony always being the consistent trainer who made jokes and was friendly before training, and he was very focused during training.  He had a lot of patience and he knew my potential even when I never realised my own ... but he would not rush me.

“He would not separate me from girls, or children, but merge me with adults and every weight category at a young age ... this is how I developed to break the fear of fighting against girls, irrespective of their size.

“I had my first fight on SABC 1 and Anthony was there for me and my father, he was always shouting for me and understood my fears.

“Although I lost my fight, he took me back to training and started from scratch, always giving me his undivided attention, despite having a big class.

“He would always make a way to accommodate us, when we did not have money to pay for lessons he would still welcome us to train and provided the best coaching ever.

“His doors are always open , money is nothing, he just wanted to see me unlock my true potential and he also made sure I was emotionally and
mentally focused.

“I appreciate him for that and believe that nobody can be as
down-to-earth as Anthony Kettle.”

EFC star Sibusiso Mdoko:

“He was more than my manager. He was my stepfather too.

“He used to take care of me inside and outside the cage (hexagon) ... I wish I could work a little bit longer with him as my manager. There is a lot I can say about him, what a great man.

“I owe him, he deserves a bottle of Bells. All he has done for me, I will never forget it.”

Regis Muyambo (EFC star):

“Anthony was my coach as well as my mma training partner

“Everything (I) learned, he taught me.

“Great friendship, relationship and mentoring. He was like a dad to me, one fight after the next, I just fell more in love with combat sport and just got to see more and more all the amazing things that this guy is doing for other people.

“He made all the time for us.  

“All these top guys he trained, and all these guys came from across the world with a wealth of knowledge bringing people from all over the world.

“It’s been really awesome, anyone can tell you, he always makes time for you, not just in training, but in life too.

“He plays such a big role in developing athletes here in the Western Cape.”

IOL Sport