Every kick and punch echoes through the gym in Observatory, Cape Town. You can feel the force of the blows reverberating through your body. And no wonder: the world’s No 2 kickboxer in an amateur lightweight division of Muay Thai is in training.
And no, he isn’t a visiting foreigner from the East; he’s South African Ncedo Gomba, who was born in the Eastern Cape and grew up on the streets of Cape Town. He’s barely 19 but over the past five years he’s left his mark on the international Thai kickboxing scene.
Ncedo’s opponents often have to concede defeat, sometimes in the first few minutes of a fight, but outside the ring you’d never say he’s such an accomplished fighter. He’s soft-spoken and gentle and although he smiles easily he turns stony-faced when asked about his childhood.
“My sport teaches me discipline and to get to know various types of people. When you’ve grown up rough on the streets it’s hard to trust anyone who doesn’t understand that way of life.”
Read more of this inspirational story by Pieter van Zyl in YOU 8 November 2012.