Cape Town - The BIA (Brothers In Arms) team is a melting pot of cultures that include South African, Congolese and more athletes from different walks of life.
The mother tongue may not be the same, but they all speak the same language when it comes to BIA, and that is the language of camaraderie and unity.
The gym which was started by Extreme Fighting Championship veteran, athlete and coach Conrad Seabi, notoriously known as ‘Cage Wise’, has earned the respect of many as it slowly grows its stable.
The team consists of skilled athletes in the form of EFC welterweight champion Ziko Makengele, heavyweight contender Matunga Djikasa former EFC dangerman and multi-division contender Anicet Kanyeba - who now is at the top of the new
Omega Promotion’s welterweight division and lethal lightweight Cole Henning.
Coach Seabi has been biding his time and building a top-class stable, and on his way up is another one of his titans in the form of another heavyweight Sholto Luiters (1-0) who makes his second appearance in the hexagon on Saturday at EFC 94 after knocking out Simon Harle in the first round at EFC 90.
South Africa’s Luiters takes on experienced martial artist, Cameroon’s Nico Yamdjie (3-7) in Paulshof, Johannesburg in a bout that will see Luiters take another step closer to title contendership, should he do well. With the EFC building their divisions once again, it is the prime time for Luiters to take advantage of every opportunity and stake a claim for gold that his teammate, Djikasa lost out on at EFC 88 against Thabani Mndebele.
Luiters says that training out of the BIA gym has been nothing short of a beautiful experience and the family culture makes all the hard work worth it.
“We are a big family at BIA,” says Luiters.
“Everybody stands together, and it is nice to fight out of Brothers In Arms.”
BIA is known for its singing and cheering during events, it’s easy to spot the team even on television and the spirit is strong in the group. Even though the singing might be done in a different language, Luiters still feels the spirit and enjoys the moment with his BIA brothers and sisters.
“I don’t always know what the guys are singing, but I just take it in and enjoy the moment,” laughs Luiters when referring to when Kanyeba, Djikasa and the rest of the Congolese athletes who get into the rhythm ahead of fights or during training.
The chants and warcries done to warm up the team are usually done in Lingala, a language spoken in the north-west of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the northern half of the Republic of Congo and to a lesser degree in Angola and South Sudan.
The love that is portrayed by the BIA teammates truly embodies what a rainbow nation really is, and should be a beacon of hope for all going forward.
“As a young black coach, coming from where I came from, finally my dream has come true,” says Seabi.
The 42-year-old has done well to bring young, old, experienced, new, black, white and athletes from different nations together as one.
“I don’t expect to have the biggest building or best sponsors, I am just blessed to have BIA and its athletes. It's easy for me to grow the team because I know what it feels like to be inside that cage. I know what it feels like to go through the journey of fighting, to go through camps. I know the pain.”