Amandla

Mazwi Mkhize is a Durban-based body builder who has just completed his degree in criminology and psychology at the University of KZN. A body builder to start off with, he became increasingly interested in powerlifting and, at the Nedbank Championships this year, won gold in his powerlifting weight category with a lift of 130kgs. Mazwi, who has a bright sporting future ahead, was never interested in sport and did not participate in any sports at all when he was at school. It was only when he went to university that he discovered the magic, of his chosen sport. I was going to the gym regularly, lifting weights, just to improve my fitness and stay healthy, and "one day a guy, Mlu, approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining the varsity bodybuilding team," he explains. Having never done body building before it was completely new to him, but his love of the sport grew quickly and he was soon competing.

From 2006 he competed for three years at varsity level and in 2009 he entered a provincial competition, despite there being no disability category. At the competition he was spotted by Marius Dohne, who is one of South Africa's most successful bodybuilders, having won numerous World Champion and Mr Universe titles. Following this Mazwi was also featured in the magazine, Muscle Evolution.

"Luckily for me, a year later a disability category was opened and recognised by Body Building South Africa,which is affiliated to the IFBB,which recognizes this category," says Mazwi. Last year he participated in 12 competitions, winning 10 titles and taking second place in two. He is one of a handful of bodybuilders with a disability in this country.

2010 was most definitely his year. He was awarded the University of KZN, Howard College, Sportsman of theYear; IFBBSA Champion; the KZN Champion, Van Der Mescht, GautengRegion, SA Novice and Millennium Gold Plate. More recently he took up powerlifting and, just as in bodybuilding, he quickly made his mark - in both able body and disability categories. At the 2011 Nedbank Champs he was still unaware of correct competition protocols. "I did not know the procedure so it was only at my second turn that these were explained to me. Then it was okay and I did really well and won the gold in my category."

Sadly though, he will not be representing South Africa at the Paralympics in London. He explains that, to compete internationally, he has to be ranked internationally. "This means I need to compete internationally in powerlifting and I have not been able to do this as I missed the World Championships this year." He is not a quitter though and is optimistic that his time will come. "I am making it my goal to qualify for the Paralympics in 2016 in Brazil,," he says cheerfully. So he is working hard to ensure he goes to the World Championships next year to get ranked and onto the world scene.

In the meantime the 25 year-old has completed his degree and is looking for work in the Durban area, "I come from a rural town on the South Coast, KwaLembe district in KZN, and it was there that I grew up and completed both my primary and high school. At school I was not interested in sports, instead I participated In debating - homing my skills to be a lawyer."

He originally wanted to study law, but then decided on criminology instead. Today he is happy about his choice because it leaves him lots of timeto concentrate on his sports. "I would like to pursue my sports full-time but Ido not have a sponsor or a coach. At least here in Durban, I am close to thegym."

Powerlifting is an interesting sport and it keeps you healthy. I love being involved in the sport and being an athlete. My degree is something to fall back on "sport is where I want to be!"

He also wants to use the sport to give back. "I want to be an inspiration to others. Having a disability does not mean you have to sit back and wait for something to come to you. Get out there and make an effort. Sport is a great motivator - and it does not have to bepowerlifting; it can be any sports."

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