CAPE TOWN – It is always a nice thing to hear athletes unpromptedly giving praise to their gyms and coaches.
It shows a sign of contentment, respect, loyalty and a solid foundation.
I may be completely wrong, and it may all be a big cover up … but I will take my chances and buy into it – especially when there is a trend of compliments and pleasantries surrounding places like the SBG (Straight Blast Gym) Cape Town Martial Arts branch.
“To me, SBG is very special because it allows me to be myself,” says Professional Fighting Championship Lightweight champion, Lewis Mataya.
“SBG international teaches its students the fundamentals of martial arts then allows them to be creative. This to me is gold because it allows me to be unorthodox and have solid fundamentals simultaneously.”
Lewis is one of many athletes who have spoken highly of the gym. Others include former and current students and Extreme Fighting Championship stars, Wade Kerspuy and Gary Joshua, respectively.
“Coach Steve Bazzea is a huge piece of the puzzle. Imagine your father being your coach, that’s what he is to me. That's like some Khabib and Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov stuff right there, and look what they've accomplished (RIP to the legend),” referencing the Mixed Martial Arts superstar and Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight champion (Khabib) who was trained by his late father and highly-respected MMA coach, Abdulmanap who tragically passed on due to Covid-19 complications this year.
“The rest of the SBG family, coach Matt Thornton, pro fighter Gary Joshua, and Jan-Hendrick Booysen, it's an honor to learn from then.”
Lewis (3-0) will take all the knowledge that was imparted to him from his SBG coaches, brothers and colleagues and put it on display on Saturday (24 October) when he defends his belt against Fighterz Inc’s Emmanuel Sita at PFC Amateur Fight Night.
Since the start of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, it will be the first MMA event in Cape Town which will take place at the Portuguese Club, Milnerton without any spectators.
It may not be the perfect setting for fight fans and fighters alike, but Lewis is grateful for the opportunity.
“This period of inactivity was very irritating but necessary. I feel grateful to be fighting again. Thank you PFC and Angelo Addinall for making this happen,” says Lewis who dominated PFC Featherweight champion, Patrick Mbokwe to earn the LW title at PFC14 in October last year.
Emmanuel Sita recently had the privilege of representing Western Province at the SA National Championships where he received a bronze medal after losing in the semi-final of the featherweight division. Both he and Lewis are set to go pro soon and this fight could do both of them the world of good.
“The Humble Warrior (Emmanuel) is a very good striker and is very strong. I respect the man and the trail of destruction he's left behind. He is a very interesting equation to solve,” says Lewis eloquently of the man who also has a strong Judoka background.
The Chimanimani, Zimbabwe-born Lewis is a purist and student of his trade, and in his holistic approach to life, he too believes in sharing positivity.
“Growth is the most important. Becoming the best version of myself. Being a better human in the world, a better student, a better family member, a better boyfriend someday (lol, yes ladies, I'm available, but after the fight, no distractions),” he quips.
“During my free time, I'm studying, trying to improve my thinking and my mindset. Sorry to be geeking out but that's the most important thing to me. Other than fighting, I enjoy making the world a better place by offering voluntary self-defense lessons or helping other students understand techniques,” he adds.
It is clear that Lewis knows the value of giving back, but he too understands the importance of good business decision-making in terms of longevity and prosperity for his career, so when he saw the new Fight to Fame reality show pull up in Cape Town, he lent a keen ear to hear what it was all about.
“I've done my research on Fight to Fame and it sounds cool. Coach Steve and I spoke about it and we think it's a great idea. If I'm to get a shot at that, I'd go for it. Two thumbs up to these promotions, I support them 100 percent,” says Lewis.
Fight to Fame is a new reality show designed to create Hollywood movie stars out of combat sport athletes. The show which is being rolled out to 200 countries - starting early 2021 in South Africa - will see fighters compete in several assessments including stunt work, acting training etc.
The winners from these shows will then have the opportunity to earn a role in a Hollywood movie production and open bigger doors than just that of the fight game. A much needed opportunity in the thriving and still growing mixed martial arts landscape of Africa.
“My fighting all started with a passion as a kid, I'd watch movies and practice any move I saw. “Also, like most fighters, being bullied, mentally and physically. Though I don't define myself with that, that's a phase that came and passed,” says Lewis who - according to some sources has been earmarked by the EFC for a contract soon.
“I also heard the EFC story and I'm keen. My coach said I should keep my focus solely on this fight and I'm with him on that. I have to stay focused. I'd love to tell you more but after this fight,” he adds.
Be sure to stay tuned to the PFC Promotions Facebook page for more details on this weekend’s fight card, and for more details on the reality show, visit fight2fame.com.