Qaasim Coetzee fighting his way to fame
CAPE TOWN - Qaasim Coetzee has always been a bit of an enigma.
Whenever I attended combat sport events or visit gyms across Cape Town, there he is – be it as coach, trainer, sparring partner or mentor.
With an amateur mixed martial arts record of 13-2, I would always ask myself “when is this guy going to take the step to pro”, without actually asking the man himself.
No offence to other fighters, but I have seen less prepared fighters turn pro and step into the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) Hexagon.
I can appreciate fighters wanting to take their time to fine-tune their trade before going into the field – almost like a student aiming for a Master’s degree before entering the work field.
When I eventually got to ask the 23-year-old athlete about his plans regarding the transition to pro, his laser-sharp focus and low-profile demeanour respectfully brushed aside whatever obstacles or reasons may have been the cause.
“My main goal at this moment is to show off my skills in the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC),” said the fourth-stripe blue belt Jiu Jitsu practitioner, who has fought in an array of combat tournaments including Boxing, Muay Thai, K-1 (Kickboxing) and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu).
“My main focus is Mixed Martial Arts,” said Qaasim, who trained and trains MMA stars such as Faeez Jacobs, Don Madge and Justin Smith.
The Lentegeur-bred athlete alternated between staying with his mom, dad and grandparents, growing up. Things changed after he lost one of his most precious gifts – his grandpa and namesake, Qaasim.
“It was life-changing for me as that man taught me so many things in a short period of time,” acknowledges Qaasim of his late oupa.
“My grandmother and father became my biggest support,” he says.
After moving in permanently with his dad in Parklands, Qaasim discovered Panthers MMA Academy. That is where the fight game started for him.
“I met the owner of the gym, Anthony Kettle, and let me tell you… that man changed my life at that very moment I met him.”
Following that point, Qaasim found himself mixing it up with some of the best combat athletes, gyms and coaches across the Western Cape landscape, all of which have played a major role in making him the tactician he is today.
“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and train with great fighters, and I want to thank Anthony Kettle and Gary Barrett for starting me out from scratch with no skills. I also want to thank Don Madge and Matthew Leisching for making me the amazing fighter and trainer I am today.
“It’s amazing how I don’t realise it every single time I train, but going back in time, I can see how much I have improved every day as an MMA fighter,” Qaasim said with appreciation.
He has found a new home now at an awesome gym in Athlone – FutureFit. The infrastructure and set-up is something to behold, a real gem.
“I want to give all credit to Ish Kaskar (FutureFit owner) for standing by me and being a great support system,” said Qaasim who works and trains under the FutureFit brand.
While being under the FutureFit brand, Qaasim was also exposed to the Fight to Fame reality show – a new concept that is designed to create Hollywood movie stars out of real-life combat sports athletes.
With the FutureFit gym being one of the bases for the Fight to Fame brand, an opportunity was provided to Qaasim.
“I’ve been helping the production team involved in the Fight to Fame mini-series, showing them my journey and what it takes to become a fighter,” says Qaasim.
The mini-series has a storyline behind it, not only to hype the event, but to also encourage people from all walks of life to enter the show.
It is being rolled out to 200 countries, and will see fighters enter a reality television show where they will be subjected to 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.
“Fight to Fame has also given me the opportunity to become the star I wanted to be as a kid,” says Qaasim, who is a big fan of Hollywood combat star and athlete, Michael Jai White.
“I will consider registering for the show. It is a great opportunity, not just for fighters, but others who have a dream of becoming a superstar some day.
“It’s an opportunity not just for fighters to become actors, but for actors to also become fighters. South Africa has so much talent, but the opportunities are difficult to come by. That is why concepts such as Fight to Fame are so important for local fighters and citizens. Fight to Fame is definitely going to change that,” he said.
Who knows, it may not be this year (due to Covid-19) but perhaps in 2021 we’ll be seeing Qaasim fighting in the Hexagon and on the big screen.
* For more information on F2F, go to www.fighttofame.com