Cape Town – Siya Kolisi has become an increasingly popular figure in the global sports arena, but it’s a mixture of his “mistakes” and “good things” that made him believe that it was the right time for his autobiography, Rise, to be written during his playing career.
The Springbok captain arrived back in South Africa on Monday following the 31-29 Rugby Championship victory over the All Blacks in Gold Coast, Australia at the weekend.
His book – written with British author Boris Starling and published by HarperCollins UK – was released in South Africa this past Monday, and it gives insight to Kolisi’s life off the field as much as on it.
He grew up in Zwide township in Gqeberha, and received a bursary to attend the prestigious Grey High School after being spotted as a youngster at his primary school and at the African Bombers Rugby Club.
But life was tough growing up in Zwide, and Kolisi speaks openly about his experiences that made him the man he is today.
It is still unusual for a sports star to do an autobiography at the height of his career, though, and the 30-year-old loose forward explained his reasons for doing that during the adidas ‘Impossible is Nothing’ function at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday.
My story. My truth. In my words.— Siya Kolisi (@SiyaKolisi_Bear) October 4, 2021
Through my own rise, I hope I can show people in South Africa and around the world – of every colour, gender and spiritual belief – that anything is possible.https://t.co/NhmFnFz1nh#WeRISE pic.twitter.com/JOGY9f06lK
“Obviously there was the other book that was being written (an unauthorised biography), and I had a ‘FBI agent’ that was just fighting it! Rachel was fighting it, because I told the guy please don’t write the book – I’m not ready yet, I’m still young. And he did it anyway…” Kolisi said.
“And then the opportunity came that I could do my own book. I always wanted to do it after rugby, but at the same time, me and (wife) Rachel spoke, and I said actually, you know what, I’ve made so many mistakes and I’ve done so many good things…
“There are so many things, like me and my dad. He never shared or told me how he felt and all of that, and I was never able to tell Rachel how I feel about her, or tell her how much I love her and all that kind of stuff, because I didn’t know how to – because nobody told me that. All those things I share there.”
Kolisi has spoken often previously about the abuse that his mother and other female relatives had endured in Zwide, and it is an issue that he tackles head-on in the book.
“I also talk about gender-based violence, which is the biggest thing in our country. Like I said, 40 or 50 percent of the proceeds from the book are going to – 60, oh, it’s going higher and higher! Sixty percent of the proceeds, I’m donating to the Kolisi Foundation, with the projects that we are working with, because I don’t believe it’s my story alone,” he said.
“I believe a whole village raised me, and I believe so many South Africans have believed in me and my story. This (gender-based violence) is the biggest problem in South Africa and for me personally, because I’ve seen it first-hand, with people that I love.
“And Rachel has always encouraged me: ‘You always wanted to do something for your mother, but you were too young. But now you are in a position (to do so)’.
“When I was doing my book, I did the book and I was finished. Then… we went for six days and I took out almost half of the book, because that’s not… Every day you see things differently.
“I don’t think about my achievements, and all I think about mostly is what gets me going, and it’s the Foundation – that’s my biggest thing. Obviously I want to provide for my family at home, and my family back at home in PE (Gqeberha). But the biggest thing for me is the Foundation.”
* The book is available at all leading bookstores in South Africa and the UK and is available on Amazon online for order.