99FM – Your Inspiration Station

Fighting for Life

With one punching bag and a dream, Tobias Nashilongo went from poverty to founding the Soweto Boxing Club, where many of Namibia’s best past and current champions have trained.

Tobias share his story of self-sufficiency and hope…

“My father died when I was a small boy; I can’t even remember him. My mother died after Independence. So I went to Walvis Bay. I didn’t have family or a home or money – I just went.

It was so difficult, even just to live. I stayed in a compound where people who work in the factories stay. I used to take all the food people left on their plates and that would be my dinner. This is why I know how to explain to people what hunger is, what crime is and how you should behave. I never let myself go down.

In 1994 I went to Cuba and when I came back to Namibia in 2007, I opened the Soweto Boxing Club and Fitness Academy. I started with just one punching bag. After I got some money, I bought another one. It was difficult then for me to get customer because the boxers would come, see only two punching bags and just go away. But my slogan was always,

‘Never stay down.’

I worked hard until I could get five punching bags, and then the boxers came and stayed. Even Harry Simon joined me. Then people started to recognise my work and I also started to train kids. Some people thought I was mad because the kids couldn’t contribute, and I was doing all this hard work for free, but I was one hundred percent sure that those boys would represent this country in the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games one day.

“I’ve realised that it takes many people to make a champion.”

Little by little, people came and saw what we were doing and offered to help. One day I went to the UK for a fight and someone called me to say that there were people who had come to renovate the whole gym. I thought maybe it was a joke, but when I came home I found people working there. They said the owner of Orlando Swallows had sent them. Now every kid wanted to be there because it is the best gym, and we had so many kids we didn’t know how to accommodate them.

There was a problem kid that the social worker had failed to deal with, so they brought him to me. I never went to training for it but I am gifted with talking to people – that’s why I can help. I have even had parents call me to tell me that now their kid is with me, they are doing better at school.”

For coach Tobias Nashilongo’s full story listen to the full MYD Show by clicking here.