CAPE TOWN – There are so many talented combat sport athletes in South Africa.
However, not all of them get the chance to find their true potential due to various issues.
It’s hard to contain one’s excitement when you see a hot prospect coming through the ranks, however, time has proven that – like in so many other sporting codes – up-and-coming athletes can get swallowed up so quickly either by fame, injury or lack of opportunity. And with that, often the athlete’s career is impacted.
So when you see an athlete with great promise, you almost hope and pray that he/she could be that ray of hope, and reach the peak of their sporting abilities.
This is what I felt when I first saw August Kayambala (3-2) fight.
I was impressed by the young man’s strength and belief he portrayed in the hexagon.
Fighting against fellow Featherweight, England’s Caleb Ridley (2-0) at EFC68 in 2018, I would hardly consider Kayambala's Extreme Fighting Championship debut loss to be a ‘bad day at the office’ because prior to the more experienced Ridley locking in a well-timed rear-naked choke in the second round, the DRC-born Kayambala was rag-dolling the former with some amazing Judo takedowns and escaping some good submissions just out of pure strength and some technique. Here, I thought, was someone who had great potential and could be a great athlete one day.
The man then went on to win his second bout against Warren King before having two fights cancelled against top-drawer names, Nerick Simeos (4-3 and 1 No Contest) and Roedie Roets (6-1) – At the time of going to print, It was unclear why the fights were cancelled.
More comfortable avoiding the featherweight cut, his next two fights were a bag of mixed results with one win and one loss respectively in the lightweight division before Kayambala then returned to featherweight this past weekend at EFC86.
And the man known as ‘The Barista’ seemed to have the recipe for cutting down to 65 kilograms comfortably down-packed as he looked super strong once again like he did three years ago.
Kayambala dominated his Durban-based opponent Warren Richards (1-5) with some good power slam takedowns and clinch work.
On the stand-up, he, too, threw some decent leather combos with bad intentions.
There were pockets of good work from Richards, but not enough as Kayambala finished the fight early in the second round via a tapout due to a front guillotine.
“This is serious now. I just needed a couple of years to understand the way to cut weight and put it all together and make it so easy like I did this past weekend,” Kayambala told Independent Media in an exclusive.
“Featherweight is where I want to stay. I don't see myself struggling with weight cuts now. I now have the experience to do it. So I will proceed with my career in the featherweight division and get a belt and then move into another division or look for other opportunities abroad, you know.”
Kayambala who started off with coach Mike Mouneimne from Pride Fighting Academy in Cape Town, recently went on a road trip across South Africa aiming to improve his skill set.
“I also travelled to Johannesburg and trained with (now interim lightweight champion) Alain Ilunga (13-5) also, he helped me. But I am based at Gina’s Den in Parklands, says the man who called Camp Fight in Sunningdale, Cape Town home once upon a time.
“I know most people will say ‘it's not good for you to change your perspective, but for me, I was just learning, you know," explains the man on training with different gyms.
"Gina’s Den is home now, I am working with really good guys, I am really blessed with good people and training partners around me. Everything is the way God wanted it to be,” says a very content Kayambala who loves hiking and enjoying the mountainous and winding landscapes of our beautiful country.
When Kayambala is not preparing for a bout or improving his cardio, he is busy formulating a mean cup of coffee – hence where the name “The Barista’ comes from.
“I do enjoy making coffee. I appreciate being able to show some love with the coffee I make and to serve people, that is a privilege for me,” adds Kayambala who also works as a salesman at Rowdy Bags/Luggage.