His karate dream nearly ended when he moved to the United Kingdom (UK) to further his studies. After resurrecting his career last year karateka, Mbise Takobana has become the new England national champion and set his eyes on the 2020 Olympic games qualification. Takobana shares his journey with Mmegi Sports Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI
The 25-year-old has been based in Leicester for the past seven years where he completed a Master’s Degree in Combined Geology and Geophysics at the University of Leicester.
He had a promising start to his karate career that included a gold medal at the Junior Commonwealth Games in 2008 and a number of national team appearances from regional tournaments.
His career however, came to a standstill in 2012 when he moved to the UK as he could not find a trainer until 2015.
“The first two years, I was based in Cardiff, Wales where I did my A-level. I took a break from karate in those two years due to lack of any karate clubs nearby. However, I continued to stay active, playing football and training mixed martial arts at a local club. I later restarted my karate career when I got to the University of Leicester in 2015. However, the karate there was mostly traditional based so I didn’t get enough preparation for competitions,” he said.
Takobana made his debut in the UK karate a few months later at the annual British University Championships where he won a silver medal in the 67kg category.
He bagged two bronze medals at the championship in 2016 and 2017 respectively as he trained on his own.
His passion was reignited three years later when he met coach Michael Rankine of Team Rankine; a Leicester-based club and affiliate of the English Karate Federation (EKF).
The Tutume-born star won a gold medal in a local competition known as BIKO in October 2018 in the male 75kg category. A few weeks later, at the International Central England Karate Championship, he scooped gold in the male 75 kg, silver in the open weight category and a bronze in team kumite.
“I then attended the British Championships and became the British champion in Male 67kg last month. I went to the England Open Championships and bagged another gold medal in the 67kg, before another win in July this year at the Kaizen Open Cup,” he said.
“My biggest achievement remains a England National Championships where I won a gold medal to become the England National Champion two weeks ago.” Takobana has not been part of the national set up since 2011.
However, he hopes to secure a berth at next year’s Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan.
“I would love to be at the Olympics. However, I have missed out on many international competitions that would have given me a chance to qualify due to lack of funds mostly. Competitions such as the recent UFAK are the ones that could also give an athlete a chance to qualify and I missed that one too as I am based this side. Since I am going back home, I hope to get a chance to qualify,” he said.
“Here they take conditioning of athletes very serious, there is professionalism in training and diet planning. There is also massive unity amongst different karate styles (federations). If we can tune down the politics and put the interest of athletes and country before everything else. Karate is a sports code known for discipline, etiquette and other great values, but these values seem to mean nothing much nowadays,” Takobana shared his view on the differences between the local and UK karate scenes.
Full Name: Mbise Takobana
Date of Birth: September 19, 1993
Place of Birth: Tutume
Hobbies: Watching/reading MMA or boxing related news, either fight or documentaries on fighters. Going to gym, Teaching children, photography, film making and writing
Favourite food: Grilled chicken and beef, and braai with veggies
Favourite Pro fighter: Muhammad Ali (my biggest inspiration even to this day)
*Kaizen Cup Open - Gold Medallist
*BIKO Open - Gold Medallist
*Central England Championships -67 Kg Gold Medallist
*Central England International Open (Gold Individual Kumite -75 kg men, Silver Individual Kumite Open weight Category and Bronze Medal Team Kumite)
*England National Champion 2019 - Senior Men Open weight Category
*British Champion 2019
*8x southern African Champion (zone 6)
*9x national champion (Botswana)
*2x British University Championships Bronze medallist
*4x Botswana games gold medallist
*5x BISA Gold medallist
*Nottingham Trent Open (Gold Medallist individual Kumite and Silver team Kumite)
*Gabs Open Gold Medallist 2011.