Harare - One of Africa’s most decorated karatekas, Shihan Samson Muripo of Zimbabwe, has often carried the continent’s hopes on his shoulders and has seldom disappointed.
Exactly a decade after shaking the world order, turning the odds upside down with his pin-point technique helping him to a World Cup Open Karate title in the middleweight category in Osaka, Japan, Muripo has gone on to carve his own niche into the sport’s Hall of Fame.
A serial Sportsperson of the Year in his native country, Muripo is not showing any signs of fizzling out on the mat as yet.
And the 5th Dan Blackbelt holder this weekend leads a contingent of So-Kyokushin athletes from this continent to the fifth edition of the International So-Kyokushin Karate Championships-Oyama Cup in Ahwaz, Iran, where defending his Over 40 years Open category title will be uppermost onhis mind.
The week-long kumite and kata contest begins this Saturday in the Asian country.
The annual tournament is held in honour of Sosai Masatatsu Oyama of Japan who is credited with having founded the increasingly popular style.
Muripo, who will be leading a team of budding fighters to the prestigious event including Admire Chingozhoro who has been improving with each outing, expressed satisfaction over the manner in which he has trained ahead of the tournament.
“Obviously, the way to go has always been training, training and training. We believe we have prepared ourselves for the big challenge. It’s going to be a big challenge but we remain confident we will come out tops,” said Muripo.
“Of course, I am the defending champion but well, it’s going to be tough. However, I fight to win and nothing else.
“I am confident that I will retain the title which I won in the 4th International So-Kyokushin Oyama Cup last year.
“I am also very much convinced my colleagues will win in their categories. This is not a small tournament. It’s a tournament to honour one of the founders of the style and by the way, I am always inspired by his achievements.
“I love winning and I am going to Iran to fight and try to win.”
The 40-year-old athlete, who is also the Africa Development Officer and Council Member in the International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan So-Kyokushin, believes there is a lot in untapped talent across the continent.
He said given adequate resources, African karatekas can conquer the world.
“Africa has a lot in raw untapped talent. I believe there is a lot we can do and once we shape up and polish the raw diamonds, we have in this sport code, we will go places.
“I believe the sport needs to be mastered right from a tender age and going forward everything will become easy.”
Immediately after the Oyama commemorative tournament, Kyokushin athletes are scheduled to converge in Klerksdorp, North West Province, South Africa for the eighth Matlosana Cup tournament.
The Matlosana championship will be staged from March 4-11 with a bumper attendance figures from across the globe projected.