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Taking the world on with a bang! - Muller

2023-09-21  Maurice Kambukwe

Taking the world on with a bang! - Muller

What inspired you to become a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, and how has the journey been so far?

Initially, my interest and spark for the sport came around when I was 13 or 14 years old. One of my current teammates opted for me to join him in MMA instead of playing rugby, as I did at the time. I preferred the oval ball, as I saw a future in being a rugby player. I did, however, always consider doing MMA for extra fitness or cardio during the rugby off-season and, of course, learn how to intelligently defend myself. Subsequently, it was only after high school that I got more invested in MMA, but as a student in Cape Town, the financials weren’t in place in order to join a MMA gym at the time, and once I came back from my studies, I initially started taking up boxing first.


Can you share some of the key values and principles that you believe are essential for success in martial arts?

Discipline, respect, sacrifice, commitment, and hard work. These are a few of the virtues that come with the territory of this sport and, frankly, any other sport, whether the goal is to eventually excel as a pro-athlete or to better yourself as an individual in MMA or any other respective sport. Those are the few key values to strive for.


Did you have any family members or mentors who were involved in martial arts and influenced your decision to pursue it as a career?

For the most part, my cousin (basically an older brother) was very tough on me growing up. He had a sound knowledge of the craft through occasional training and a lot of visual studies. However, he was also a rugby player and didn’t actually pursue combat sports. Nevertheless, he contributed to my spark in combat sports from a young age, and here we are now, but other than that, I didn’t specifically have any family members who do combat sports; it was all new to me once I started training.


You recently won International Mixed Martial Art Federation fight (IMMAF) against Angola’s Mufuano Mbunga, in Luanda, Angola. How would you describe that experience?

A massive learning curve, irrespective of being placed first in the competition, has now provided more grounds for improving my attributes and skills. It was a tough battle between both fights, especially the final, as Mufuano also understood that I was the only person standing between him and the gold medal. He was a true warrior and battled to the very end, which was inevitably to my benefit in terms of cage time and fighting experience.


Having won your first major medal at this year’s IMMAF Africa Championships, how do you plan on building on that success going forward?

It’s back to the drawing boards; the gold medal is great, and I am savouring the moment. However, this is merely the start of it all; there is plenty of room for improvement in all aspects, considering I have only been training for about two and a half years. Personally, I would like to work more on my striking skills and wrestling attributes before venturing into my next competition or fight. For now, we take it day by day.


As an emerging MMA talent, what do you believe are some of the most significant obstacles encountered by up-and-coming fighters such as yourself?

For the most part, I have to juggle life. It’s either work, studies, or side hustles that need attention in order to make ends meet while focusing on training at the same time. Not having financial aid/payment or sponsorship makes things way more difficult, specifically for MMA, as it is a growing sport in our country and the global community as a whole.


Could you pinpoint the most noteworthy milestone in your MMA career so far?

Undoubtedly, being placed first in my weight division in the African Championship is my greatest achievement to date in the sport of MMA.


You’ve become a martial arts star in your own right. What do you believe should be done to nurture and develop more talents in martial arts in Namibia and beyond?

There is a controversy around combat sports in general amongst the general population, which portrays the art as promoting ‘violence’ when in fact it instils discipline and massive respect amongst practitioners and within the combat sports community. So, changing the narrative is a start; this will hopefully, in turn, have more youth (as parents start to understand the complexity of the art with more depth) get involved so that the sport can grow from the foundation up. Generally, the MMA community is smaller even compared to boxing, so a general increase in the number of practitioners will help grow the sport by giant leaps.


What have been some of your career disappointments?

For the most part, I sustained injuries. I had a major setback with an elbow injury last year around mid-March through a competition we did in order to qualify for last year’s African championships, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. The injury left me out for about seven to eight months, and I had plenty of catch-up work to do once I came back to training. Essentially, it left me with five weeks to prepare for my first fight, which I lost to a split decision. It was disappointing, but I took it on the chin and went back to work, just as we are doing now after the win.


Namibia’s MMA scene is still relatively budding compared to the global stage. In your view, what steps should the country take to bridge the gap and align itself with the international MMA community?

In my opinion, I think we are on the right path with everything that we are doing right now in and around the sport of MMA. The involvement of IMMAF has stepped us in the right direction; now it’s just a matter of time, but of course we are also in need of more financial assistance and backing. So a respectable call on corporate giants and banks to step into their social responsibility in this regard is within our hopes!


How would you describe the current state of the MMA sport in Namibia?

A growing sport indeed! There has been moves made by my coach in earlier years in terms of taking some of his students to pro-levels. Of course, the amount of exposure back then was considerably less compared to our day and age. Humble beginnings, we are taking the world on with a bang!


Generally, what keeps you motivated as an athlete?

Personally, I don’t thrive on motivation that dies out really fast. What keeps me going is my discipline and will to become a better version of myself in correlation to being a competitor, setting an example for the youth, and putting my country on the map! Making sure the rest of the world knows not to mess with us!

2023-09-21  Maurice Kambukwe

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