Bodybuilder flexes winning formula in face of challenges

By Leonard Solms Time of article published Feb 4, 2017

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THE tough streets of Elsies River are far from a conventional environment for a top national athlete. However, against all odds, Marvin Marinus, the 2016 South African Natural Bodybuilding Champion, has built an extraordinary career there.

Marinus, 30, has been an avid sportsman most of his life, taking part in athletics, soccer and cricket. Growing up, these games were often played on the streets because of a lack of amenities. “If you play soccer here, whether on the streets or a field, and a guy starts shooting guns, you lie down on the floor or you have to run. Even if we played a soccer tournament and we had sponsors, we'd have to leave the tournament.”

After matriculating from St Andrew’s High School, Marinus began doing electrical work, and worked at Electro Inductive Industries for nine years. In 2014 he took up natural bodybuilding.

The sport was recommended by a friend, Hoosain Bester, who is now both his coach and the president of the South African Natural Bodybuilding Association (SANBA). Marinus quickly found his niche, winning his first club competition at Tri-O-Lavians.

At the end of that year, he made the South African national team for the Union International de Bodybuilding Naturel (UIBBN) World Championships in Vicenza, Italy, where he finished eighth out of nine competitors in the senior men’s U80kg line-up.

Marinus was selected once again for the 2015 World Championships in Barcelona, however, he was unable to find the financial means to travel to the competition.

He supports his family, fianceé Lolene Lawrence, a natural bodybuilding judge, and son Lemar, who is in Grade 1. Despite being unemployed for most of last year, he did not abandon bodybuilding. Instead, Marinus responded by embarking on a rigorous training regime, including two gym sessions a day.

His hard work paid off when he won the 2016 Western Province Natural Bodybuilding Championships, followed by the grand prize, an overall victory at the SANBA Championships in Grahamstown in October.

Reflecting on his rise to the top, Marinus said he overcame his difficult circumstances by using negative comments from those close to him to spur him on. “In my neighbourhood, if you do bodybuilding, people laugh at you when you walk in the street and call you names.

“Even family of mine said 'you are wasting time and you're wasting money’, but I proved them wrong and that was actually my motivation. After that, I only came first in all my competitions.”

After his success in Grahamstown, it was announced that Marinus had made the national team for the World Championships for a third successive year. But, once again, he could not afford to travel. South Africa finished fifth out of 13 countries in his absence.

Marinus continues to train, and has now found a job in the electrical industry. He is trying to raise funds to travel to the UIBBN European Championships in Spain in June, and November’s World Championships in Guadeloupe.

Luke Lucas, his long-time training partner and fellow national natural bodybuilder, said: “(Marinus) is a humble, talented, hungry, gifted athlete, and I look up to him.”

National teammate Tommy Murphy echoed Lucas’s praise: “He is humble and a good example for younger athletes. (He is) always willing to help For our federation to have a champion of his calibre is an honour.”

Marinus wants to devote himself to attracting young people into sport and off the streets and drug abuse, saying: “One of my goals is to become a personal trainer, or even a coach, or to have my own gym one day It doesn’t matter if I’m in Elsies River. Wherever I go, I want to motivate children and show them that they can be something.”

Meanwhile, his ambition is to be a world champion by the end of the year.

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