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Simon Chilembo. Nesodden, 1989.

I’m going to talk about training by way of telling a partial story of my life.

I’ve had very specific reasons for wanting to train from my first school day in Lesotho in January 1965; then I was 4 ½ years old. That’s the first time I discovered rudely how physically small and vulnerable I was. I still have a vivid recollection of how these other bigger boys and girls were all over me, stroking my head and pulling at my clothes as if to undress me. Later on I learned that I was the only child wearing the finest clothes, was the cutest, and most charming of them all. Then I knew I wanted to be big and strong so that I could protect myself from those overly eager people. I couldn’t wait to be grown up so I could start weight lifting with the neighbourhood men who used to train in Thabong Hall, on the other side of the street from my home in Welkom.

I recall there often being a lot of hard and loud talk about tokoloho (freedom), boipuso (self-governance), makomonisi (communists), and manasi (Basotho National Party) at my homes in Welkom, South Africa, as well as Peka, Lesotho. Due to my grandmother’s romantic liaison with an influential Lesotho man, many top Lesotho politicians of the time used to hold their meetings at my homes. I guess this is probably where and how I became a loud mouth. The latter attribute would often get me into a lot of trouble (it still does!) because I could in time stand up against harassment using very hard verbal and body language talk like I would observe the politicians do. In physical fights I easily beat up my age-mates, having initially overwhelmed them with some serious hard-talk of course. When the bigger boys began to be more ruthless and mean, I realized I needed extra skills to defend myself. So, while waiting to be old enough to commence weight lifting, I started Boxing during school holidays till about age ten in 1970. At that time Thabong Boxing Club had a very generous policy of allowing children to come and train any time at their own convenience. The paradox is that I remember mostly from Boxing training the joys of running (road work) and skipping rope more than the fight training itself. However, the tough, warrior-fighting attitude of Boxing training I would later take with me to Karate.

1969 I recollect not so much for the moon landing or impending truly scary End of the World midnight of December 31 that year. It’s about this time something even more dramatic happens in my life. From being directly and physically hassled as a tiny smart-ass-guy who fought like a little tiger, I was now being ridiculed and called derogatorily Simon mafethe (Fatty Simon). When I started to look around more carefully I found that I was suddenly bigger and, indeed, fatter than my age mates. This went on till I was about 14 years old. In the interim, while physical fights were piece of cake and I won all the time, the emotional hurt of being mobbed as Simon mafethe was most devastating. By age 12/ 13 I was so big that older boys on the streets would torment me for my denying my, according to them, real age of 16!

Indirectly encouraged by my mother, I made a conscious choice to stop Boxing training at age 10 so I could devote more time to running (road work) and skipping rope with a very well thought out objective of losing and, subsequently, controlling my body weight and size; I didn’t need to fight any more. As time would unfold though, Chilembo Body Weight ManagementÒhas had to become a life-long personal preoccupation for me.

Simon Chilembo. Oslo Marathon 1994

I discovered James Bond in 1972, and with that what seemed to me to be finer and more sophisticated fighting skills. I first took up Karate training then in order to be cool and sophisticated like James Bond! Little did I know that this would mark a major turning point in my life; such that by 1974 up until beginning of 1975 when my family managed to leave then apartheid South Africa for Zambia, I was so smooth and collected, confident, neat, and sexy that I recall with a sardonic sweet sensation all over me how everyone who used to make life difficult for me all of a sudden began to revere me. The closest and oldest family friends in South Africa call me Morena, which means King in Sesotho. I still rule with Karate everywhere I go. The sport as a way of life has opened many doors in my life, some of which I think would never ever have opened otherwise.

ChilemboTopLevelFitnessÒis a synthesis of my all round training experience from early childhood to the present. While Karate training is at the core of what I do to be and stay healthy, strong, happy, productive, stressless, young, and attractive I have of course been exposed to many other fantastic training forms and sports. It’s not for me therefore to say what is the best form of training. My personal philosophy here is: What’s fun and works is fun and works fine, just do it! 

Simon Chilembo. Frognerparken, Oslo, 1993.

Apart from the general Health & Wellness aspects of active sport and training, the Social and Personal Development opportunities they present are awesome. Regardless of the sport or chosen form of training, probably the most valuable natural outcome in this regard is Communication Skills development arising from interacting with others in a controlled learning, sharing, or competition environment. I personally vouch for the postulation of sport and training being some of the most effective tools for bringing down cross-cultural understanding and interaction barriers. As a veteran sports and training personality, I conclude by suggesting to those immigrants having problems of finding and deciphering the Da Vinci Code of intergration or assimilation into the Norwegian society to experience, share, and develop sport and training with Norwegians, as well as others already well-established and functional in the country. Probably the most decisive factor would be, with or without expert help, to carefully identify your talents, skills, tastes and preferences. You can only shine and, therefore, receive recognition/ honour, respect, acceptance, and inclusion by doing exceptionally well things you are good at. This way you can walk with your head high, be anything you want to be in this land of opportunity, contributing in your own special way to making Norway a better place for all to live in with peace, harmony, and prosperity.

Simon Chilembo
6 Dan Black Belt Karate Master

August 26, 2011



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