The Sunday Mail
The countless hours of hard work on the mat and in the gym makes the reigning Kobudo World Champion, Wilfred Mashaya, a shining superstar and a smiling assassin.
The 37-year-old multiple award winner recently added to his accolades the coveted African Union Sports Council Region Five (Rasa) Sportsman of the Year award and a Hall of Fame induction in Serbia.
It was a night of firsts for Mashaya, as he became one of the first Zimbabwean winners to scoop the Rasa award. Sevens coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba received the same honour.
Mashaya was also the first African to receive the Serbian honour.
“l an extremely happy and humbled, that is all I can say,” said Mashaya.
“Two awards in one night is extremely overwhelming, but I want to thank God for it is through Him that all things are possible, “he said.
It has been an unforgettable year for the Mufakose-born martial arts weapon expert, who also won the Kobudo World Championships.
Mashaya views all the honours and accolades as fruits of the sweat, toil and sacrifice put into his craft.
“I never thought that one day I would be a multiple award winner and a Hall of Fame inductee. For that I am extremely grateful.
“I believe all the trials and tribulations have contributed to shaping me into the man I am today,” he said.
Mashaya’s journey began in 1990.
As an eight-year-old, he picked up his first nun-chucks after drawing inspiration from a Bruce Lee movie – a story best told in the own words.
“Actually, when I started my journey in Kobudo, I was a very impressionable eight-year-old, surrounded by so much lawlessness in Mufakose.
“My earliest memory in this journey are the many bruises that I sustained as I tried out the first nun-chunks that I had fashioned out of the pieces of wood I picked up and transformed into weapons.
“I did not have access to the internet or money to pay for lessons, so I had to teach myself what I saw in the movies.
“Acceptance was another problem I encountered. My parents did not see the value in martial arts and back then, karate was viewed as a hooligan sport.
“I remembered struggling to find money for lessons, a problem I solved by saving the little pocket money I got. I would sneak out of the house to attend lessons.
“I was one of the few Africans to try the craft and would be surrounded by a sea of white people during every lesson I attended. As a result, l experienced racism and discrimination for the first time.
“During my formative years, I told myself that I would do my best, that only the sky would be my limit. That has kept me going.”
The hard work is paying off.
Mashaya holds four Internationally Certified Black Belts in different Martial Arts Styles – a fourth Dan Black Belt in Self Defence, Master Degree Second Dan Black Belt in Kobudo, Second Dan Black Belt in Kyokushin and First Dan Black Belt in Ninjutsu.
He is an international ambassador for the country and continent through his works.