Channelling Van Damme
Shane Higgins fell in love with martial arts watching JeanClaude van Damme movies as a youngster.
But the Bloemendal family man has come a long way since seeing the Muscles from Brussels on TV, and will enter the world of professional fighting at the weekend.
Higgins, 33, makes his professional MMA debut in Cape Town on Saturday when he faces the DRC’s Benjamin Mukendi at the Extreme Fighting Championship.
Higgins will be debuting on the preliminary fight card, while his teammate from the PE Submission Fighting Academy (Pesfa), Luthando “Shorty” Biko, will be competing for the interim bantamweight title in the co-main event of the night.
“It’s been a long and challenging road to get to this point, but fighting professionally has always been the goal.
“I have sacrificed a lot, but it will pay off come Saturday,” Higgins said.
The biggest challenge for the father of three has been balancing time with his family, training, and his job as a supervisor at a logistics company in the Port Elizabeth harbour.
But he and his wife Sergine provide a loving home for their two daughters, Tiara, 10, and Gemma, 4, and son Lamael, 2.
And with guidance from coach Chris Bright, they manage to build a training camp around his busy schedule.
“My family at home has sacrificed a lot to support my dream, and my team at the gym have put a lot of time and energy into getting me where I am today," Higgins said.
Since stepping into the MMA arena as an amateur six years ago, Higgins has managed 10 wins in 12 fights.
Five of those wins came earlier this year, and he even added an amateur boxing victory to his string of successes.
Now he hopes to put his slick striking and high-level grappling to the test on Africa’s biggest MMA stage against Mukendi, 19, who managed to choke his last opponent into submission when he debuted less than a month ago.