Two Port Elizabeth mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters have done the country proud, proving that the sport is not only for the young.
Keith Nazer, 57, of St George’s Strand, and instructor Mervyn January, 58, took part in the World MMA International Sports Karate Association (Iska) tournament in Orlando, Florida, in June.
Nazer bagged three first place finishes, while coming second in the World Breaking Association competition.
He dominated his contests in fights in the 50 and below age group, as well as the 50 and above divisions.
January said: “The sport is divided into four categories – the novices [white and yellow belt], beginners [orange and green belt], intermediate [blue and purple] and advanced [brown and black belt].”
Nazer, holder of a purple belt, fought in the intermediate division.
“I’ll be graded at the end of the year for my second brown belt as I’ve already been ranked for a brown belt one,” he said.
January, the more experienced of the two, took part in the advanced division.
“I fought in the 40 to 49 division because in the other division I was supposed to fight in, there were only South Africans,” January said.
With fighters from 60 countries taking part in the competition, January finished eighth overall.
“I have also competed in Qatar where I finished fourth,” January said. He runs one of the four MMA gymnasiums in Port Elizabeth, the Xiao-Long Kickboxing Academy, in Gelvandale.
January said securing sponsorship was a battle.
“We had to pay large sums of money, out of our own pockets, to go to America because we face challenges in terms of finding sponsors,” he said.
“We appeal to anyone for donations.”
Any person or business wanting to make donations can contact January on 082-743-2416 or Nazer, 073-353-2090.