The opening day of the 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships is in the books and what a day it has been for Namibia. The federation became a member in 2018 but didn’t enter a team into an IMMAF competition until now.
The team gathered themselves in the EFC PI as they prepared to make the walk for their first-ever IMMAF competition. Veja Hinda was in action first for Namibia, taking on DR Congo athlete Tresor Musampa. Veja showed his grappling ability early by taking the back of Musampa and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. The bout soon hit the mat, and just when Musampa thought he was out of danger, he found himself locked in a triangle choke which ultimately forced the tap.
Post-match, Veja explained how it was an honour for him to represent Namibia and showcase the talent on offer there.
‘It is an honour to represent Namibia on the international stage, knowing that MMA is still a growing sport in Africa and to finally put the World on notice to let them know that Namibia is up and coming. It’s a really good feeling, and I’m gonna carry that flag up high.’
‘Do I think we can take gold? Of course, we can. But we’re just taking this one step at a time, one fight at a time and trying not to get ahead of ourselves, but gold is in reach.’
The soon to be law school graduate was in an all-boys school and went searching for a sport that could help him defend himself when he came across MMA.
‘I was actually at an all-boys school, and I am not the biggest of guys out there, so everybody was much bigger, much heavier. And at an all-boys school, everybody wants to be the alpha male, so I felt like I had to do some sport or something to learn self-defence. So if anything ever comes my way, I’ll be able to defend myself.’
A familiar Irishman, Conor McGregor, was on the rise when Veja was researching the sport and it made him an instant fan.
‘I started doing some research, and at that time, Conor [McGregor] started peaking. That’s when I started following him.’
‘I was thinking, “who is this guy? he’s winning all his fights and talking so much,” and he was a featherweight at the time too.’
He reminisced on how he was inspired by watching McGregor fight.
‘I was like, “man, I’m more or less the same weight as this guy. I feel like I’m gonna do this. I can do this.”‘
Following his bout, teammate Geraldo Bok was in action not so long after taking on Mauritius representative Vedaman Canee. Before MMA, Geraldo was a Rugby player, however, he found MMA after falling out of love with Rugby in his school days.
‘Before [MMA], I was a pretty athletic guy, doing athletics throughout high school, playing rugby and soccer. Once I fell out of love with Rugby midway through high school, I was like, “let’s try this thing called MMA”, and I just got hooked. Ever since then, it’s been the only thing I’ve been focused on.’
His first International MMA bout did not get off to an exciting start, but both men made up for the lacklustre first round by pushing the pace in the second. Geraldo was backed up against the fence under pressure early when he dropped levels and the years of strength from Rugby showed as he drove his opponent to the mat.
He quickly transitioned to full mount in style and finished the bout with some relentless ground and pound. Following his bout, he shared similar feelings to his teammate on representing Namibia and believes they’ve helped shine a light on MMA in Namibia today.
‘It’s a huge honour to represent my country, one of the reasons why I wanted to represent my country was to make history. Namibia hasn’t been noticed in the MMA scene and today we’ve made that difference.’
Both men will be back competing tomorrow and will be joined by Jason Beukes, who will be competing in the Flyweight division. You can watch all of them all in action tomorrow live on immaf.tv.